The clock is ticking. You've got five months. Well, five months as of this blog post. Because on February 24, 2020, Certpocalypse happens, when Cisco retires most of their certification exams and launches more than 30 new ones in a single day.
The study guide you bought last year still sits upon the shelf, unopened. You haven't launched Boson's NetSim to get any hands-on practice, nor have you taken a single Boson ExSim-Max practice exam. You've thought about buying the Boson Courseware, but you haven't pulled the trigger yet.
So why not just wait until after the Certpocalypse? Surely five months isn't enough time. Is it? Of course it is. And there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn't wait.
First, Cisco’s advice is to keep going. If you get certified before February 24, you'll receive the new version of the certification and any related training badges. If you apply yourself, you'll be able to do it.
Second, reliable study materials for the new exams will be scarce-to-nonexistent for some time after the changeover. Training providers are going to need time to develop new study guides and practice exams that are directly relevant to the new exams. So you might have to wait considerably longer than five months to take the new exams.
Third, most of the content you're learning now will be relevant to the new exams. Sure, there will be a few new technologies, but OSPF is still OSPF and VLANs are still VLANs. So even if something happens and you don't finish studying in time, your studying will not be for nothing.
Fourth, if you're going for the CCNA, the two-exam route of ICND1 + ICND2 is going to disappear. Most people prefer the two-exam route so they won't have to learn so much at once.
So how can you be ready to take the exam in five months? The most important thing you can do is to set a time every day or several times a week for studying. And after you set it, don't forget it! Study inertia is a real thing: the more you do it, the more you will continue doing it, and the more you cancel it, the more frequently you will want to cancel it. Remind yourself that the prize will be worth the long hours of studying.
Also, use practice exams, like Boson's ExSim-Max practice exams, to let you know when you're ready for the real thing. After you've taken an exam, read ALL the explanations, even for the questions you answered correctly. Know why the right answer is right AND why the wrong answers are wrong. Focus particularly on the areas where you are weakest, and if you need more information on a topic, use the references we provide with each explanation.
Don't delay your studies any longer. With the right tools, you can do this! Set your goal and stick to it. The clock is ticking... you've got five months.