Image of Jeremy L. Gaddis, CCNA, CCNP (and Cortney, in case you were wondering)

CCNA Giveaway #1

by Jeremy L. Gaddis on September 16, 2011 · 27 comments

Post image for CCNA Giveaway #1

A while back, I had the idea for this site and finally got to work on it. The articles and lab exercises available now are only the beginning of what will eventually be the #1 site for lab exercises for those studying for the Cisco CCNA certification.

In the spirit of “kicking off” the site and because September is apparently “Shameless Promotion Month” (weird, huh?), I decided I’d give some things away and maybe draw a few people to the site. Hey, everybody loves free stuff, right!? Right.

Alright, Whatcha Got?

I know that’s what everybody wants to know, so I’ll skip right to it. Here’s the loot:

  • One copy of uCertify’s Cisco CCNA Prep Kit
  • The winner’s choice of one of two CCNA study guides
  • A total of five (count ‘em, 5!) 8-hour vRack sessions on IPExpert’s CCIE racks

uCertify Cisco CCNA Prep Kit

uCertify was gracious enough to donate a copy of their Cisco CCNA Prep Kit which fully covers the CCNA exam objectives. It contains a total of 871 review questions and 376 quizzes in addition to practice tests, articles, how-to’s, flash cards, study notes, and more. It normally sells for $169.99 USD, but they’ve been awesome enough to agree to give away a copy to the winner. There is one little stipulation, but I’ll cover that in a minute.

CCNA Study Books

When making the decision which book to buy to help you prepare for the CCNA test, it usually comes down to either Wendell Odom’s CCNA Official Exam Certification Library or Todd Lammle’s Cisco Certified Network Associate Study Guide. The main purpose of Free CCNA Labs is to help newcomers to the world of networking pass the CCNA certification exam, so I’m going to give one lucky person whichever of the two books they want. I’ll order it from Amazon and have it sent directly to you. There’s one small catch here too (see below).

IPExpert vRack sessions

While the prep kit and study guide are aimed at those preparing for the CCNA, here’s something everyone can use and appreciate. I’m going to give away a total of five IPExpert Routing & Switching vRack sessions, split up among three winners.

Each vRack session is good for eight hours of time (well, seven hours and 45 minutes, for you pedants) on IPExpert’s CCIE racks, consisting of Cisco 2800 & 3800 Integrated Services Routers and Cisco Catalyst 3550 and 3560 switches. There’s plenty of Frame-Relay, Serial, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet connections to experiment and study pretty much anything you want!

Just one of these sessions would set you back $35 USD, but I have sessions left over so I’m giving some away. One lucky winner will receive three vRack sessions and two other lucky winners will receive one vRack session each. You don’t even need to be studying for the CCNA to use these. You could be a triple CCIE and still make good use of ‘em!

Okay, So What’s the Catch?

Alright, here’s the catch. Well, two of ‘em actually.

If you win the uCertify Cisco CCNA Prep Kit, you agree that within 30 days you will write up an honest review of the product and send it to me so that I can post it here. There’s no minimum length but it should be long enough to give others an in-depth review of the product. You can describe the product, the quality of the review questions and practice tests, and whether or not you believe it’s worth the purchase price (and why). That’s easy enough, right?

Next, the winner of the CCNA book must be in the United States or Canada. Remember, I’m paying for the book and the shipping out of my own pocket. I don’t know what it costs to send a book to the Middle East or South Africa but, honestly, I don’t really want to find out. I know that’s going to exclude a lot of people from winning and I apologize, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Sorry, maybe next time.

There are no restrictions regarding the IPExpert vRack Sessions. If your name comes up, you win.

How To Enter

Each participant can receive up to three entries.

Entry #1: At the time the giveaway ends, each person who is listed as a “fan” of the Free CCNA Labs Facebook Page (e.g. you have clicked the “Like” button) receives one entry.

Entry #2: You can receive an entry by leaving a comment below on this post. If you are currently studying for the CCNA, you should answer the question “What are you struggling with?”. If you’re just starting out this might be subnetting or IP addressing. If you’re nearing the date of your exam, it may one of a number of things: spanning tree protocol, EIGRP metrics, and so on. Just let me know (and be as detailed as possible, please).

If you’ve already earned the CCNA certification, your comment should include a “tip” or otherwise useful information for those who aren’t there yet. Just be sure not to break any NDAs.

Entry #3: Lastly, you can receive a third entry by placing a link to Free CCNA Labs on your own blog or web site. Once you do that, send me an e-mail (jeremy AT freeccnalabs DOT com) with the URL. If I draw your name and there’s a link on your web site, you win.

How I’ll Pick The Winners

The details on how to enter are below, but I thought I’d better go ahead and explain how I’ll pick the winners. At the time the giveaway ends which is, tentatively 12:00 noon (1600 UTC) on 30 September, I’ll begin tallying up the entries.

  1. Everyone who is listed on the Facebook Page receives one entry.
  2. Everyone who has posted a comment on this post (meeting the conditions stated above) receives one entry.
  3. Everyone who has sent me an e-mail with the URL to their own web site which contains a link to Free CCNA Labs receives one entry.

I’ll begin at #1 and assign each entry a number which I’ll punch into a spreadsheet (or, more likely, a CSV file since that’s how I roll). Once that is done (sometime on the afternoon of the 30th), I’ll use the random number generator on to generate winning numbers from the list I’ve created. Winners will be contacted either via Facebook or e-mail (depending on how they entered) and will have 48 hours to “claim their prize”.

The prizes will be given away in this order: uCertify Cisco CCNA Prep Kit, 3 vRack Sessions, CCNA Book, 1 vRack Session, 1 vRack Session.

If I drew your name and you respond within 48 hours, you win. Easy, huh? Winners who don’t claim their prize within 48 hours automatically forfeit and I’ll draw another winner.

If you win, I prefer that you would let me publish your name here on the site, but I won’t require it. I’ll ask you about it when I contact you to notify you that you’ve won.

That’s It!

That’s all there is to it. I think that’s easy enough. If something isn’t clear or there are any questions (though, really, there shouldn’t be), leave a comment below (and no, that doesn’t get you an entry!)

NOTE: Privacy stuff… As you probably know, I hate spam. As part of the contest, I’ll probably end up with a lot of your e-mail addresses. They won’t be given away or sold or anything else, with one exception: whomever wins the uCertify Cisco CCNA Prep Kit allows me to give his or her e-mail address to uCertify, who will send a license key via e-mail.


One other thing… this is my giveaway. I made up these rules and I reserve the right to change them as I see fit. I can disqualify any entrants for any reason whatsoever or even cancel the whole thing if I feel like it. Of course, I wouldn’t do either without a damn good reason but I reserve that right. Just sayin’.

Now, let’s have some fun with this and give away some stuff.

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  • Chad

    For those studying, if you have trouble with subnetting, there are a few things to keep in mind:

    1) Make sure you can break an address and subnet mask down into binary.  Once you are comfortable with the binary, working in dotted-decimal format becomes much easier.  This will also help you understand addresses written in CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing) notation, which looks like this: .  The number after the “/” represents the number of bits in the subnet mask, which, in the case of 14, is

    2) Understand the different classes of network: A, B, C (D, E).  I find it helpful to understand a few basic rules of the binary address and “classful” subnet mask (the subnet mask that is standard for the address class):

    – The first bit of the first octet of a class A address will always be 0, and the classful subnet mask is

    – the first bits of the first octet of a class B address will always be 10, and the classful subnet mask is

    – the first bits of the first octet of a class C address will always be 110, and the classful subnet mask is

    (- the first bits of the first octet of a class D address will always be 1110 – class D is reserved for multicast

    – class E is reserved for experimental use)

    3) You may need to know reserved IP addresses and ranges, such as private IP addresses (often referred to as RFC1918 addresses, as this is the RFC in which they were defined).  They are:
    – may be subnetted however you like, but they may not be routed across public networks (i.e. the Internet). is reserved for loopback use, with usually being used to identify the local host.4) It is often taught that an IP address (IPv4) has two parts – the network or subnet address and the host address.  However, an IP address technically has 3 parts – the network address, the subnet address and the host address.  Though the network address and subnet address will be the same if the subnet mask is the classful subnet mask for the address.

    When breaking down IP addresses, write the subnet mask in binary, with a line under it, write the address(es) below that line, then draw a vertical line at the classful boundary (where the 1’s would end for the classful subnet mask), and another vertical line between the last 1 and the first 0 of the specified subnet mask.  This will help you see the network, subnet and host portions of the address, as well as making it easy to calculate what other host addresses  fall within the same network/subnet as well as other subnets available using the same mask.  This will also help you to see the patterns of network/subnet boundaries for the specified mask.

    I hope you find this helpful!

    Kind regards,

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely awesome, Chad. You’ve set the bar quite high, let’s see if others can match you.  =)  Thanks!

      • Chad

        You’re welcome Jeremy!  Thanks for the contest!  I do hope others contribute as well.  As I have time, I will be happy to contribute more.

  • Rex Choi

    What am I struggling with in my CCNA endeaver? 
    Finding the time  to studying and commit to scheduling the test to force myself to study..

  • Brian Christopher Raaen

    With subnetting remember the mask bit progressions 128, 192, 224, 240, 248, 252, 254, 255 for 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, and 8 bits.  Also remember the values of the bit positions from left to right and add them up to convert binary to decimal. 128, 64, 32, 16, 8, 4, 2, and 1.

    /24 =     11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000
    /25 = 11111111.11111111.11111111.10000000
    /26 =  11111111.11111111.11111111.11000000
    /27 = 11111111.11111111.11111111.11100000
    /28 = 11111111.11111111.11111111.11110000
    /29 = 11111111.11111111.11111111.11111000
    /30 = 11111111.11111111.11111111.11111100
    /31 =  11111111.11111111.11111111.11111110
    /32 =  11111111.11111111.11111111.11111111

    remember that the progress for wildcard mask is the opposite, and remember the powers of two series minus 1 for the pattern, 0, 1, 3, 7, 15, 31, 63, 127, 255

    /24 =    00000000.00000000.00000000.11111111
    /25 =    00000000.00000000.00000000.01111111
    /26 =      00000000.00000000.00000000.00111111
    /27 =      00000000.00000000.00000000.00011111
    /28 =      00000000.00000000.00000000.00001111
    /29 =        00000000.00000000.00000000.00000111
    /30 =        00000000.00000000.00000000.00000011
    /31 =        00000000.00000000.00000000.00000001
    /32 =        00000000.00000000.00000000.00000000

  • Dustin Dean

    I’m having a hard time being able to subnet quick in my head and STP mostly

    • Chad

      Work with it, especially in “real life.”  Set up labs for yourself with PacketTracer and/or GNS3.  The more you work with subnetting, the easier it will become.  Also, if you buy any of the Cisco Press stuff, they have a game that comes on the CD in the back that is a binary game to help you get quicker with converting between decimal and binary and with subnetting.

  • Dustin Dean

    also would it be possible to get an entry for giving it a +1 on Google I don’t have Facebook
    p.s I just gave it a +1 also

  • Jacopsaj

    ACL’s. There was ONE ACLE simulator question on my exam. I apparently didn’t get it exactly like they wanted so I got a 25% on that section which brought me right below the passing score.

    • Chad

      What help in particular do you need with ACLs?

  • Derek Newland

    Love the site! I’m currently studying for the CCNA and plan on taking it this fall. After that I’ll either start studying for the CCNP or perhaps study for a Juniper cert. The most difficult part of studying for the CCNA so far was getting my mind around the concept of subnetting. However, with a few hours of practice, I can to it with easy.

    I’m now concentrating on learning and testing the various routing protocols in PacketTracer. I contemplating building a virtual test network using GNS3, however. Recommendations? 

    • Chad


      If you have PacketTracer, you may be able to do a little more with regard to switching in that, though PacketTracer is just a simulator (you won’t have all commands available).  I highly recommend building a practice lab in GNS3.  Unfortunately, GNS3 does not emulate Cisco switches, so you will have to put a 16-port switch module in a router (which is a standard feature that GNS3 labels as a layer-3 switch now).  The only other downside is you will have to find a working copy of an IOS image to be able to play with GNS3.

  • Andrew

    Great site and a great idea.

    I got my CCNA a while back, but my best tip would be to read the exam blueprint and make sure you are learning everything on the exam. Too many people (including me) make the mistake of just reading the certification guide, and then finding that there are topics that have been added or that just aren’t covered very well in the book.

  • Dan

    Planning on taking my CCNA soon. Things I’m struggling with? Finding time to study is the big one, but also I generally struggle with pure memorization stuff – so memorizing things like timers, packet header layouts, and IEEE standard numbers.

    This site looks like a great resource, thanks!

    • Chad


      A lot of what seems like “pure memorization” up front, will not be when you work with it.  If you struggle with memorization, get a simulator (PacketTracer, Boson, etc) or an emulator (GNS3) and work with the technology.  You will find that, the more you work with it, the easier it is to remember.

      As to packet header layouts and IEEE standards, yeah, that is a lot of memorization.  However, with packet headers, you could either create a small network or use something like GNS3 and run Wireshark to sniff the traffic and look at the packets broken down.  Perhaps looking at actual packets, rather than just a header layout in a book, would help you get a better handle on the packet headers.

  • Rocket101

    I am hoping to take the CCNA test within the next few months. The most difficult part at this time is remembering routing protocols and keeping all the metrics, timers, holdowns, AD’s and on  straight. So much memorization.
    Tips for those starting out. Get Packet Tracer and find tracer Labs, do lots do them early.

    • Rocket101

      I don’t have a blog or a website but if I did I would link this for sure.
      Would linking this to my Linked in page count?

  • stubbyd

    Would love to win one of these products.

    Am currently in a rut with my studies and some fresh material would help put a fresh spin on the issue – thanks.

  • Xxl3ww

    I am just starting out my certification journey. I have been reading multiple blogs about different paths people have taken. I am wondering how important a home lab is and what others recommend buying for a home lab? Also, do most people get their CCENT and then their CCNA, or do they go straight to the CCNA?

  • EOT

    I have been working with Cisco tech for a little while now (6 years). I’ve had to learn as I go about layer 2 and 3, spanning tree, vlan’s. When I started out, I didn’t understand much about networking as I have always been mostly a server guy; with all the redundancy I work with on servers, I never saw the network as something I needed to worry about. However one of my Cisco friends pointed out (not so gently) that if the only router/switch/nic/etc were to go, where would my servers, with all their amazing “redundancy” be? So this put me on the road learning about networking. 

    I have hit a point with my learning that more for myself I would love to see if I have what it takes to get my CCNA. I already have the cisco exam and certification guides, but I’m definitely having issues with things I’ve never worked with, like WAN technologies, T1/T3, Frame Relay, HDLC, etc., and I can’t turn away the chance to obtain tools that will help me attain my CCNA (and beyond).


  • jesus illescas

    I’m studying for the ccna and maybe the most difficult skill for me was subnetting, but in summarization, to get the most efficient summarization for x.x.x.x network. Now I can do it easily, but sometimes I need to review my exercises, and that’s the key exercise, exercise, exercise.

  • Albert Ponic Ninyeh

    I have challenges with subnetting and that’s that’s what’s pulling me back now, because of that i don’t even know if am ready to take my final Exams and am very worried about this.I really need Help.

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  • RichD

    I have tried studying for the CCNA on two occasions. BGP and EIGRP always throws me for a loop

  • Bscottdrew

    Im in the middle of CCNA Prep and really appreciate your making the effort to provide this information.  thanks.

  • Gigi Mathew

    I missed your deadline for the entry. I’m preparing for my CCNA and I was looking on the net for something like this and came across your page and FB page…interesting to see that you are giving this free gift and I just miss the deadline.

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