When Will (Did) You Move on to CCNA 200-301?

 In News, Study Tips

Anyone who has been pursuing CCNA Routing and Switching (R&S) over the last several months has asked themselves a simple question: Should I move on to study for the new CCNA based on the 200-301 exam that arrives Feb 24, 2020, or pass the CCNA 200-125 exam by Feb 23rd? As of the dat of this post, that’s a mere seven weeks away. Some of you have moved on to study for CCNA 200-301, some will in the new few weeks, and some will pursue 200-125 til the last day – but many will need to mentally transition to thinking about the new exam. Today’s post begins a short series to help you along that path.

Where are You with CCNA?

First, let’s take an quick informal look at where we are. It’s reasonable to pursue passing the “old” CCNA based on exam 200-125 up until the very last day – Feb 23, 2020 (a Sunday, by the way – so check when you exam testing center is open.) And it’s reasonable to be preparing for the “new” CCNA based on exam 200-301. When will, or when did, you transition studying for the new CCNA?

Pursuing CCNA R&S (200-125)? Be Smart About What You Study When

Let me emphasize: pursuing CCNA Routing and Switching before it disappears Feb 24th 2020 is perfectly reasonable. Some of you feel like you are in great shape to finish – wonderful! But if you are honest with yourself and know you just may not get there, there’s nothing wrong with being smart about how you study and about what you study. To that end, consider these key observations:

  • The exam topics list for CCNA 200-301 is an updated version of the CCNA 200-125 exam topics.
  • As usual, Cisco removed some topics and added others.
  • In this case, the scope of the exam (again based on the exam topics) has shrunk.

To give you a sense of scale, by my estimates, the new CCNA 200-301 exam keeps roughly half the content/topics from the soon-to-retire CCNA R&S 200-125 exam, and adds back about 25% worth of topics compared to the old – making the new exam roughly 75% the size of the old CCNA R&S exam.

Armed with that knowledge, if you know you may have a 50/50 shot, or less, to learn enough about CCNA 200-125 before transition day, just be smart about what you study. Consider putting off studying the topics that disappear from CCNA come transition day – if you end up not being ready to pass CCNA 200-125, then you won’t have to spend that time. To that end, I already posted some detail about topics lists in this post:

CCNA Content Changes and Your Reaction…

Ready to Move On to CCNA 200-301 - But What's up with the New Books

You invested time and effort to pass CCNA 20-125, but you know you won’t complete the task before Feb 24th. You’re ready to move on. But what’s the best way to do that? Well, one way is to buy the new books and study with those.

From a book perspective, you could continue to use the pair of my books for CCNA 200-125, namely the ICND1 100-105 and ICND2 200-105 Official Cert Guides. They won’t cover all the topics in the new CCNA 200-301 exam, but as noted in the earlier figure in this post, they cover a lot. Then you can start looking at the CCNA 200-301 exam topics and try to fill in the rest of the information on your own.

However, if you want help learning about the new topics Cisco added to CCNA when creating the new CCNA 200-301 exam, you’ll want the new books. You can buy print or eBooks (and it’s always better to get the eBooks from the publisher!)

Also, you might be wondering… books? Multiple? Yep. The content for the CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide didn’t fit into one volume. So we put roughly half the content in one volume and the rest in the other volume. And as usual, you can buy the pair of books in a CCNA Library for a lower price – definitely the way to go.

As for getting the books, note that both Volumes and the Library are available from the publisher. It takes time to distribute the physical books worldwide, sometimes a few months, but I think the worldwide channels would be filled by sometime in March. You can buy the eBooks from the publisher directly and download the books immediately. And in the US, they’d typically ship same day.

Learn for the New CCNA w/ Wendell on O'Reilly Online

Also, I can make a brief pre-announcement at this point, with more details in a few weeks. I’ll be teaching a series of CCNA courses on O’Reilly Online (aka Safari) starting in February. The lineup begins with a Feb 4th/5th repeat of the popular IP Subnetting course, followed by a series of 4-hour courses about some of the more important CCNA topics that require hands-on skills. Those will roll out from February through April, and repeat a few times throughout the year.

You've Moved on to 200-301 - But How to Study Efficiently?

You invested time and effort to pass CCNA 20-125, and maybe you read half of the old books. Now you have these new books – CCNA 200-301 Cert Guide Volume 1 and Volume 2 – but the Chapter outline looks different. How should you approach the content? How can you identify chapters in the new book that you could totally ignore because you’ve read the equivalent in the old books? Which chapters may have a little new content? Which ones for sure have lots of new content?

I plan a more comprehensive post (next one in the series per plan.)  But remember: CCNA 200-301 is smaller, so there are lots of topics in the old books that are not in the new books! For this week, here are the big items to consider focusing on in the new books:

  • CCNA 200-301 Vol 1: Part 5 – Worth reading Chapter 17 (“IP Routing in the LAN”)
  • CCNA 200-301 Vol 1: Part 6 – Worth reading Chapter 21 (“OSPF Network Types and Neighbors”)
  • CCNA 200-301 Vol 1: Part 8 – Four Chapters on Wireless LANs – you should read them all
  • CCNA 200-301 Vol 2: Part 2 – Chapters 4 and 8 – Almost 100% new compared to the old books
  • CCNA 200-301 Vol 2: Part 5 – Automation – Worth reading all four chapters

Additionally, if you didn’t complete the old books, you’ll need to look at the new books for topics you just didn’t get to in the old books. That’s some of the detail I’ll make sure to include in the upcoming more detailed post.

What's on Your Mind?

I’m sure you have concerns and questions. So ask right here with the comments section of this blog! Note that I’ll need to approve your comment for your first few posts (part of a spam avoidance plugin), but after that your posts will appear immediately. I’ll keep a quick eye out for these months leading up to the release of the new exam. Fire away!

CCNA Deep Dive Round 1 (Early 2020) - Discussion and Feedback
How to Use My CCNA 200-301 Books if You Used My 200-125 Books
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david paquet

You were CORRECT about packet tracer, great little tool. Took a while to figure out how to add phones and power them on and adding modules to routers and switches. Had to power the device down first. Probably should have taken the online training first.

Doug Lemley

Hi Wendell. Thanks for the info. For clarification, if I purchase the OCG Library, that includes everything I need and there’s no need to purchase Volumes 1 & 2 also?


Hi Doug

Any idea when the new pearson vue sim labs are going to come out for 200-301? I’ve used the sim light version which is good, but it’s limited to only a few labs.




I was reading through the exam topics and the beginning of the 200-301 book and have a quick question.

You mention ( Describe, Identify, Explain, Compare/Contrast, configure, verify, troubleshoot) as in regards to how much you should know about a topic.

Where does “Determine” fit in on this scale? For example exam objective 3.2



Hi Doug
I am in the transition to the new version because I did not finish reading the two books of the previous version. And I started reading the new books. Do you advise me to take the test on February 24 if I finish preparing?


Hi Mr Wendell I wanted to ask from what perspective is easier the new ccna than the one that terminates in two days. Because of the missing protocols? Everybody says that now you can simply read the new exams with only the Packet tracer as software. Whats your opinion as the writer of all these books? Thanks!

wilferson cabreja

Hi Wendell!! I was wondering if there is an Apendix created with all the commands that are in the book for easy review. I was searching at the back of the book and also in the online materials but it seems that I does not exist. I thing it will be very handy for us studying and practicing on the labs. Sometimes you can forget a simple command. hope there is one that we can download.!!!

Thanks in advance



Luis Mario Fuentes Oberto

Hi Wendell
I just finished the ICND1 100-105 and I also have ICND2 200-105. I was wondering if it will be more advisable to purchased the new volumes CCNA 200-301 for the purpose of covering the new CCNA exam topics than use the next ICND2 OCG.
Thank you in advance.

Michiaki Raya Yamazaki

Hi Wendell,

How many months do you think one can study to finally be prepared for the exam for CCNA 200-301?

I am just starting again with the new CCNA, but read the previous library, couldn’t finished though.


Mohammad Hasan

Hi Wendell,

I am only studying CCNA 200-301 official Cert Guide for my prepration written by you.
Is it enough for the exam prep?
I purchased Vol 1 & 2 both.

Thank You.


Farhad Hasan.

Burton Amos

Hi Wendell,
I recently completed the Cisco Networking Academy CCNAv7 course and am now prepping for the 201-301 exam. In taking the Pearson test prep practice exams I occasionally find topics or content that was not in my Cisco Academy coursework. It appears your Official Cert Guide Volumes go into more detail than the Academy coursework. After mastering (hypothetically) all of the content of the Cisco academy I would hope to be fully prepared to pass the exam but the additional content in you Volumes seem to signal otherwise. Your thoughts?

Burton D Amos

Yes, that helps a lot! I’m not really complaining about additional content as it should hopefully make me better prepared for the real world. Thanks.

Che-Wei, Hsieh

Hi, Wendell,

Thank you for posting great materials on your blog. The Q&A sets series helps.


Wendell Odom

You’re quite welcome! Glad to be of service.

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