How I Passed The CWNA Exam

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The CWNA Certification

CWNA LogoThe Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) certification is the foundation for all of CWNP’s WiFi certifications. It’s a requirement to have the CWNA before attempting the other CWNP certifications.

I started studying for the exam on June 6th, 2015 by taking notes on each chapter of the CWNA Study Guide. I finished reading the book on August 10th and began going into review mode.

After reading the book I took the practice exams on There are two banks of questions.

First, I started the first bank and based on my score, I would do more reviewing in my weak areas.

  • Don't look at the answers to the questions at first
  • Get at least 80% correct before moving on
  • Aim to truly understand the material rather than trying to pass an exam


is the passing score for the CWNA exam. But don’t shoot for that number. Aim to really understand the objectives and you will pass.

In addition to the CWNA Study Guide, I attended a CWNA bootcamp from Global Knowledge. While most people cannot afford to pay the $3000+ course out of pocket, try to have your employer fund it. I recommend doing a bootcamp after you have completed your studies and you are near your exam date. The bootcamp will often include the voucher.



  • Classroom training
  • Traditional education
  • Forces you to learn
  • Materials included


  • Expensive
  • Employer may not cover costs
  • Quality depends on instructor

Did you know, the average salary of a CWNA is $73,000?

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It took me a little over 5 months to go from studying for the CWNA to passing the exam. I have had about 3-4 years of wireless networking experience but the CWNA Study Guide really enforced the foundational knowledge of wireless networking.

I had access to equipment that helped me understand some of the concepts, such as the 802.11 State Machine.

I woke up extra early in the morning to get my studying in. Usually about 1-2 hours every day of reading. I reviewed my notes whenever I could using Evernote and Goconqr for my flash cards. I have fully moved to studying digitally because I am so mobile. I could be studying while in a line somewhere or while I am on my lunch break.

My CWNA Study Plan

  • Tell significant other about your goals
  • Make yourself accountable - tell others about your goal
  • Download the objectives and review them
  • Purchase the CWNA Official Study Guide
  • Read at least two chapters a week

Exam Time

I chose to have my exam on a Saturday. This was to have no worries about work. Bring earplugs! Nothing is more distracting than having someone in the testing area that is too noisy. The earplugs help you focus on your exam.

Make use of the dry erase pad. I used it to write down some math.

Bring two forms of identification with you, it’s required. Also be sure to use the bathroom before the exam so you don’t waste time stepping away from the computer.


If you are unsure if your training material is authorized, verify it with CertGuard.

Here’s an example of searching for a possible brain dump site which is a collection of questions and answers from the exam. Brain dumps are unauthorized training material.

Brain dump verification

What’s Next For Me?

I’m going to move on to studying for the CWAP. I received a lot of feedback from other’s who have passed before me and there were lots of recommendations to go with the CWAP before CWDP and CWSP.

The analysis portion does pique my interest the most so that’s where I’m headed. Wish me luck!

Free 18-Week Study Plan

Stay on track with my very own study plan to CWNA success.

CWNA Official Study Guide Book Review

CWNA Official Study Guide

THE CWNA Study Guide

You were tasked with deploying WiFi for the enterprise. To your surprise, it hasn’t been working well. People are complaining it’s slow and they can’t get work done. Getting a WiFi signal is easy but deploying it correctly is a process. You need the CWNA study guide.

The CWNA is a step forward in the right direction. It stands for Certified Wireless Network Administrator and is aimed at providing you with the foundations in wireless technologies.

The CWNA Certified Wireless Network Administrator Official Deluxe Study Guide is authored by David Coleman and David Westcott. Coleman is a Senior Mobility Leader at Aerohive Networks and is an expert in wireless. He is in fact CWNE #4. His co-author, Wescott, is a wireless trainer and consultant, CWNE #7.

I had both the physical copy of the CWNA Study Guide and the Safari Books version. Both useful depending on my mood of reading (either paper or digital.)

This review is of the Official Study Guide for exam CWNA-106, published by Sybex. The CWNA Official Study Guide is a good fundamental introduction to wireless networks. Among the topics you will gain a good foundation in are:

  • 802.11 standards
  • Radio Frequencies
  • RF measurements
  • RF signals and antennas
  • Spread spectrum
  • 802.11 medium access and MAC architecture
  • Wireless troubleshooting and design
  • Wireless security
  • Site surveys
  • 802.11n/ac

The book’s primary purpose is to prepare you for the CWNA-106 exam from CWNP. But if you take the exam out of the question, this makes an excellent resource to get a solid foundation in knowing how wireless works the way it works. The book is vendor neutral and more focused on the technology.

I began reading this book for two reasons:

  • To understand WiFi
  • To acquire CWNA certification

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Cisco Mobility Express – How To Deploy

Cisco has released Cisco Mobility Express aimed toward the SMB market. In a move that positions this solution in between Meraki and the enterprise controller-based models.

In going through the installation, it appears to be aimed at someone less technical or for the systems administrator that needs to quickly deploy a small wireless network.

In my lab, I have two Cisco 1832I access points which is required for Cisco Mobility Express. I will go through deploying Cisco Mobility Express in a network and demonstrate how easy it is to set up.

Keep in mind, wifi deployment involves proper planning. There is an assumption of some wifi and networking knowledge when configuring Cisco Mobility Express and as such, I highly recommend you read my previous posts on wireless planning and deployment.

What Encompasses Cisco Mobility Express?

There are only two types of controllers (Master APs), they are the Aironet 1850 and 1830. In my lab I have 1832I APs.

Supported APs in this model (subordinate APs) include the following Aironet models:

  • 700i
  • 700w
  • 1600
  • 1700
  • 1800
  • 2600
  • 2700
  • 3600
  • 3700

This network can pack quite the punch in terms of access point models. Especially, for external antenna needs I find this appealing. To include these access points in Cisco Mobility Express, you will have to download the correct image and install it on the access point.

What Are The Restrictions?

Currently, running version, you can only support up to 25 APs and 500 clients. Truly only supporting SMBs but the system is built with room to grow. When you need more capacity, these APs (meaning the 1800s) can be converted into lightweight APs to be joined to a controller.

Cisco Meraki or Cisco Mobility Express?

Probably the question on everyones mind right? It looks like Mobility Express competes with Meraki. In my opinion, they do. But they differ.

With Meraki, you get a controller in the cloud. Management is very simple. You pay for an AP and you pay for a license per AP for management. The dashboard is updated frequently with new features.

Mobility Express differs in that you are only paying for the AP. There is no license for the management portion. Some people like that. I even find that you have more control over the wireless network with Mobility Express, as we’ll see in this post and upcoming posts.


Configuring the Cisco 1800 access point is as easy as plugging it in and waiting for the SSID, CiscoAirProvision, to appear.

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