One of the most frequently asked questions I see on social media is what time it should take to study for certification exams. It’s not as simple as you might think.
It is impossible to predict how long it will take you to prepare for a certification exam. Everybody is different. Some people learn quickly while others take their time. Some people need a lot of hands-on experience while others can learn it by simply reading a book. Some people have never used a router while others have been managing networks for years. Some people have multiple responsibilities (schools, spouses, children, jobs), while others have no responsibilities at any point. Some people can focus for hours and others need to learn in smaller chunks.
It could take you less time to study for an exam, but it could take more than a year. I think you’ll be somewhere in between.
You might over-prepare, or under-prepare if you set yourself an artificial deadline. If someone tells you that you must complete the task in three months, you may feel pressured to do it by then. This can lead to you trying before you are truly ready. If you feel ready after a month, you might wonder what details are missing, which could cause you to delay unnecessarily.
How do you know when your time is up? Practice exams, such as the Boson’s ExSim-Max exam practice exams, are useful for this purpose. Each structured practice exam should be taken as if it was the real thing. Take a practice exam and study all the explanations, even the ones you have correctly answered. Learn why the correct answer is right and why wrong answers are wrong. Use your study guides and linked references to strengthen your knowledge if you have any weaknesses.
Remember that practice exams can only accurately gauge your ability to answer questions once you have seen the entire batch. Once you have seen the questions one time, you will start to remember the answers. This can artificially increase your test score on the second practice exam. Don’t try to pass the exams repeatedly until you get 100%. It is important to understand the concepts and not just memorize the questions.
You should be doing better on the last structured practice test than you did the first, especially if your explanations were clear. Your progress should give confidence that you can tackle it.
How long should it take? It doesn’t matter how long it takes. You have this!

How do I know if I’m ready?