#CCNA Exam Topics – First 20 Years, and Next Steps

 In 200-301 V1 CCC No Category on Purpose, News

What’s on the #CCNA exam? What would like to see on the exam in the future? Continuing our look at 20 years of #CCNA, today I’ll ask a few questions about CCNA exam topics – topics in the past, and topics you’d like to see in the future. And as promised in the first post in this series, in this post I’ll also circle back to the polls from that first post in the series to answer a few questions posed there.

Roadmap for Today’s Post

Here’s a quick roadmap for today’s post:

  • Looking Back at Old Exam Topics
  • What You’d Like to See in Future CCNA R&S Exams
  • A Reprise of the Polls from the First Post in the Series

Let’s get on with it!


CCNA Topics Long Gone and Still There

The networking world has been going through a period of significant change over these last years. For example, in its early days, SDN promised to disrupt and replace traditional routers and switches. Over the last few years, SDN has become more of a change agent, with the focus shifting more towards programmability and automation. I’m sure that progression will continue, and networks 5-10 years from now will differ significantly from today.

At the same time, CCNA R&S has remained relatively static over its 20 years. Sure, each revision has included some changes due to changes in networking technology. For instance, the exam did not include IPv6 initially, but as IPv6 became more popular, Cisco added IPv6 to the CCNA blueprint. However, many of the changes to CCNA R&S had more to do with the movement of topics to and from the CCNP R&S track as well as the emerging CCNA specializations, notably CCNA Wireless and CCNA Security.

One general topic area for new topics comes from what Cisco calls “Evolving Technologies”. The CCIE written exams now include 10% of the topics from Evolving Technology topics. The current CCNA (200-125, released in 2016) was the first CCNA exam to cover some topics from the broader/deeper set of Evolving Technology topics from the CCIE track. I would expect to see the evolving technologies to continue to be some part of future exam releases over time.

Routing and switching basics still work much like they did 20 years ago. So, what has really changed in the CCNA R&S exam over time? What has stayed the same? We would probably all identify some obvious topics that have been around the entire 20 years, without even working too hard. For instance:

  • IP routing
  • Ethernet switching
  • Ethernet auto-negotiation
  • IP Addressing and Subnetting
  • HDLC
  • CLI mechanics


For Fun: What Topics Were on Which Exams – What Do You Think?

For this 20th anniversary, I took a few minutes to think back about the old exams look for some topics that have come and gone from the CCNA R&S exams. I used my old CCNA Official Cert Guides to remind myself about the topics on the older exams. I’ll toss out a few questions for you here and in Twitter, and then I’ll wrap the series with a few comments about topics over the years. I will use these rules to determine if an exam included a topic or not:

  • It has to have been included in my book for that exam, because I can’t look back at the old exams, but I do have copies of the old books.
  • The topic has to have been covered beyond a basic definition of the term to be considered to have been part of the exam.

In the next and final post in this anniversary series, I’ll reveal the answers based on my books, and close with some comments about the topics that have come and gone from CCNA over the years. Also, many of these questions ask about the old exams, so here’s a figure that shows the various exams and the years in which they were the CCNA R&S exam of choice:


The Questions:

  1. Which routing protocol (to a depth that included configuration) has been in the most CCNA Exam Blueprints among EIGRP, IGRP, OSPF, RIP? (Extra credit: In how many of the seven exams?)
  2. What was the last CCNA to include IPX?
  3. What was the last CCNA to include Frame Relay?
  4. What was the first CCNA to include RSTP (802.1w)?
  5. What was the first CCNA to include OSPF Configuration?
  6. What was the first CCNA to include VLANs?
  7. What was the first CCNA to include Metro Ethernet WANs?
  8. What was the first CCNA to include DMVPN?


You Get to Design the Next CCNA Exam’s Content!

To close the questioning for this post, let’s predict the future! What would you like to see more of in CCNA Routing and Switching? You can use this poll or post comments. You can pick as many topics as you like in the poll and choose “other” to add some other topic. What would you like to add to CCNA R&S?


Of course, to make room for those new topics, some others have to be removed. What would you remove from CCNA to make space for your favored new topics?



Poll 1 Reprise of the Polls from the First Anniversary Post – as Promised

Before closing for today, in the first post in this series, I promised to circle back to discuss the polls in that post, so let’s take a look!

The first poll was just for fun, to find out the first CCNA exam people had taken. There’s no need for an answer from me on this one, other than to say I took the first CCNA exam (640-407).


Poll 2 Reprise: Longest and Shortest Lived CCNA Exams

A brief look back at the timeline for CCNA R&S exam releases shows that Cisco has not released these exams on a regular cycle. That means we cannot necessarily predict when Cisco might release the next CCNA R&S exams. The figure shows the general idea, with CCNA Exam 640-802 being the longest-lived CCNA exam. This next list gives a more precise timeline, rounded to the nearest half-year:

640-407: 2 years

640-507: 2 years

640-607: 1.5 years

640-801: 4 years

640-802: 5.5 years (The Winner!)

200-120: 3 years

200-125: 2 years so far

Here’s the poll again. Note that the poll showed 35% of us chose the correct answer at the time I posted this post.


Managing the Transition Due to an Exam Revision

While we’re on the topic, if you’ve not yet gone through a Cisco exam revision that mattered to you, don’t let the fear of an exam change scare you too much. The transition is manageable. The process begins with an announcement of the new exams. Then there is a 3-to-6-month period in which both the old and new exams remain available. After the old exams go away, Cisco gives you a path to achieve certification with a combination of old and new exams, e.g., pass the old ICND1 and the new ICND2. So, although Cisco does not make statements like “we plan to rev CCNA R&S next year,” they do give people a useful migration path once announced.


Poll 3 Reprise: Exam Points by Percentage: Any Clue?

The current CCNA R&S Exam (200-125) has seven exam domains. Cisco allocates points in each person’s CCNA exam to match the point percentages, by domain, as published in the exam topics document. The next figure shows the names of those domains and their respective percentages.

I grouped those four domains as asked in the poll to separate the core routing and switching domains (the other three domains) from the four domains that drift away from core routing and switching. Of course, all of us would expect the CCNA Routing and Switching exam to be about Routing and Switching. The Fundamentals, Routing, and Switching domains examine the core of those subjects, with 59% of the point weighting. The four domains noted in the poll question – those with less weight per domain – may touch on routing and switching but are mostly not part of the core processes.

This base comparison shows how CCNA R&S covers a more significant number of smaller topics that edge away from routing and switching. CCNA has been growing and growing with the number of small topics you have to learn as part of your exam preparation. Be prepared to study more than routing and switching to do well on the CCNA R&S exam!






Wendell’s CCNA Timeline with: Learning@Cisco, CLUS, Cisco Press, & Wife
A Final Look at CCNA's 20th Anniversary
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Good stimulating blog. Thanks.

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