Five Impressions for the new CCNP R&S

By certskills July 29, 2014 13:27

#CCNP is an obvious next-step for many who pass #CCNA. Today’s post diverts from our usual CCNA study focus to look at Cisco’s announcements for the new revision to CCNP R&S. I’ll toss out a survey about your likely plans as well, and give some general impressions about what Cisco has done with their CCNP announcement.

Survey First!

What will you do, or did you do, right after finishing CCNA R/S? Seems like a good time to ask, given the changes to CCNP R&S. Join in this completely unscientific poll!



Leave a comment here at the blog if you checked “some other cert” or “some other CCNA”!


The Basics of the new CCNP R&S

Let me spell out the basics, and the basics only. You can read all the details at to your heart’s content.

  • The structure stays the same: ROUTE, SWITCH, and TSHOOT, with new exam numbers.
  • The name officially changes from “CCNP” to “CCNP Routing and Switching”.
  • The new exams start with “300”.
  • Each exam retains their major topics!
  • Cisco gives the usual 6-month transition: last date to test with the old exams is Jan 29, 2015.
  • You can get CCNP R&S certified with any mix or match of old and new exams
  • The exam topic documents are much more detailed (hooray), and worth a thorough read!



Cisco Press will be announcing their new products in the coming days. That said, no, I won’t be updating the CCNP ROUTE Cert Guide. It’s in good hands, though – updated by one of my favorite authors. But I’ll let him and Cisco Press do the announcing. I promise to Facebook/Tweet/LinkedIn more when CiscoPress pops some info!

Impression 1: ROUTE is Poppa Bear; Switch is Baby Bear

ROUTE was the beast of the bunch before today. Now it’s an even bigger. Gone are a few odds and ends. Added are a bunch of smaller topics, plus an overall larger emphasis on IPv6 (no surprise there). Just rambling about a few I’ve noticed that are new:

  • TCP and UDP operations
  • EVN
  • SNMP
  • Frame Relay
  • RIP. Yes, RIP.

Switch, however, while it adds a few topics, remains a smaller test in terms of topics. SWITCH was noticeably smaller with the old exams, and the majority of the volume of the new content is in ROUTE. In my opinion, SWITCH has a shorter prep time by far.

For instance, look at the ROUTE and SWITCH exam topics. Look at the PDF versions of the exam topics. Then mentally remove the couple of introductory paragraphs from each. You end up with just a tad over 1 PDF page of SWITCH exam topics, and around 4 times that for ROUTE! (I’ll be curious how long the various books and courses will be!)

Impression 2: Exam Topics are Detailed (Hooray)

The previous CCNP exam topics were woefully sparse. The new ones follow Cisco’s trend towards listing more detail. Check them out by navigating from the main page! The exam topics also list weightings for the topics, another helpful trend. So we should know much more about exactly what to study.

Impression 3: TSHOOT is Weighted towards ROUTE

TSHOOT continues to be a test about troubleshooting what ROUTE and SWITCH cover. In fact, the TSHOOT exam topics mirror the core of the ROUTE and SWITCH exam topics. Take the ROUTE and SWITCH exam topics, side by side with TSHOOT, and you’ll see entire sections in TSHOOT that substantively mirror ROUTE and SWITCH – just with verbs that imply troubleshooting rather than implementation.

The new TSHOOT takes the largest one section of both the SWITCH and ROUTE exams’ exam topics, and gives each a 40% weighting in the TSHOOT exam – making 80% of TSHOOT about the core of the ROUTE and SWITCH topics. Of course, the TSHOOT exam assesses your ability to troubleshoot those topics. Then, TSHOOT includes three other smaller topics from ROUTE, plus a little about the troubleshooting as an end to itself, as shown in this Figure.


Impression 4: Alignment Decreases Gaps between Levels

In the CCNP intro video at Cisco’s CCNP R&S web page, Ramesh mentions that the new CCNP aligns with CCNA and CCIE. At first, you might think that’s just marketing fluff. Instead, you can see that directly in the exam topics.

For example, when Cisco revised CCNA R&S in 2013, they added some IP services topics not formerly included in CCNA: NetFlow, Syslog, and SNMP. CCIE R&S had long included IP services as a part of the blueprint. Now CCNP R&S aligns better, with these same three topics added to the ROUTE blueprint.

Hopefully, this alignment will close the gaps that have existed. It used to be that there was a sizeable gap between CCNP and CCIE R&S, and a smaller gap from CCNA R&S and CCNP R&S. The effort to align will hopefully make it easier to march through the R&S track.

Impression 5: Start with SWITCH Instead of ROUTE? For Everyone?

In the old days, I used to tell people to start with either ROUTE or SWITCH based on which they knew best. That is, if you knew routing better, start with ROUTE. TSHOOT, because you are troubleshoot both routing and switching, makes sense as the final ex

However, I wonder if the order ought to be SWITCH – ROUTE – TSHOOT for everyone now.

I personally believe that you should start with the easiest-to-complete exam for a multi-exam cert. Once I see the books, hear some scuttlebutt, and maybe even go take the tests, I’ll have a better idea. But for now, ROUTE is just a lot more study than SWITCH. As of now, I’d at least tell a routing-focused person to consider taking SWITCH first.

Your Impressions?

Fire away!

If I find a few minutes, I’ll try and give a little more detail on the exam topic breakdown.





STP Vs. RSTP – Answer 4
Config Museum: OSPFv2 Single-area
By certskills July 29, 2014 13:27
Write a comment


  1. Bojan Landekic July 29, 14:00

    Great info Wendell! I am doing my CCNA R&S this September and then moving to CCNA Security before going for CCNP R&S. Do you think this is a wise track to do for someone interested in network support?

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author July 29, 16:11

      Hi Bojan,
      I’m a fan of security as a long-term skill for any networker. I think the question comes in how deep you go, whether you want to be a networker who can do some security, or a security worker who can do some networking. They intertwine to a large degree. Your more challenging question may be after CCNP R&S: go for CCNP Sec, or CCIE R&S? Should be a fun journey!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Ben Story @ntwrk80 July 29, 14:05

    My next cert was actually CCDA and then CCSP, but that was before the CCNA sub genres.

    Reply to this comment
  3. DhaR July 29, 14:10

    Thanks for the info. I think you got a mistype for the last date to test, it should be Jan 29, 2015.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Jair México July 29, 14:34

    Thanks by opinion. Currently Im prepearing to these exams. I Hope finish soon.
    Only I think that the New date is wrong. Must be 29 Jan 2015.

    Reply to this comment
  5. certskills Author July 29, 16:08

    Hi ya’ll – fixed the typo on the last date! Thanks for the heads up.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Yunas July 29, 23:47

    Do you know if Cisco has a plan to upgrade CCDP course too?
    I think it’s reasonable to change CCDP because two of the exams (Route and Switch) is related to CCDP.

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author August 5, 12:16

      Hi Yunas,
      Couldn’t say about CCDP. I try not to speak about any Cisco cert changes until Cisco’s announced them, for obvious reasons. Just keep an eye out?!?!

      Reply to this comment
  7. Jack July 30, 04:57

    I have a question about what test to start with. I thought routing would be better so you understand layer 3 switching better when you come to it. Not looking at the tests I’m not sure what’s in there to be tested on. so maybe this isn’t in there. so question would be would it be better to understand routing for layer 3 switching or would the layer 3 switching help you better understand routing.

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author August 5, 12:23

      Hi Jack,
      I think CCNA has enough IP routing so that you can start with SWITCH as far as the layer 3 switching goes. You can still do ROUTE first, but I don’t think you’ll need it to be able to do the L3 stuff in SWITCH. Just my $.02.

      Reply to this comment
  8. Bill @stilgar July 30, 15:37

    I had been preparing for the CCNP R/S but work and family had really eaten into my time. With this announcement, it’s time to buckle down and finish it off before the end of the year.

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author August 5, 12:17

      Hey Bill – yes, buckle down now! But I get it about the family… it’s a hard choice to work the normal job a little extra, and then go hide to study. Hope you find the right balance!

      Reply to this comment
  9. bettsy583 August 1, 17:41

    Just passed CCNA Data Center, and now moving on to CCNP DC! It is closer related to my primary focus which is infrastructure!

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author August 5, 12:29

      DC is a whole other beast, that’s for sure. CCNP DC is 50/50 for networking and computing. Looks like fun – it’s on my own radar, long term at least. Enjoy!

      Reply to this comment
  10. Guezouri Mohammed August 4, 06:17

    I can pass the new CCNP R&S now ? or wait until january when the old exam finish

    Reply to this comment
  11. Jeremi August 4, 10:05

    Thanks for the guidelines Wendell.
    So, my personal conundrum is that I have just finalized my CCNA Security and was just about to kick start my CCNP track with a personal goal to have the exams completed by end of summer 2015… But now with the exams being updated its placed a brake on that.
    So, my question is – how long before we start seeing the study books/material from you and other authors?
    Personally, while the new CCNP track is being released, I will head on over to Juniper and get my (gasp!) JNCIA. Yes, there are other companies besides Cisco out there. 😉 Then I will get back with Cisco sometime mid-2015 once the dust has settled with the CCNP changes.


    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author August 5, 12:28

      Sound reasonable to me! I heard that the dates for the new Cisco Press books should be on the web site by now, and that they’re all in CY14. If you had already bought some books for CCNP, I’m sure you could start reading – a lot of it didn’t change – but taking a side trip for another cert sounds good too!

      Reply to this comment
  12. certskills Author August 5, 12:30

    Sorry it took some says to post – I usually react to emails that say I’ve received comments, but they’ve been getting spam filtered….


    Reply to this comment
  13. tito August 18, 08:10

    Hi Wendell,

    Wonder when will your book on CCNA Data Center will come out? I was about to start on CCNP R and S but stop due to the new changes. I am awaiting for the new books and video tutorials to be available. Instead, i opted to pursue CCNA Data Center, is this a good choice?



    Reply to this comment
  14. certskills Author August 29, 12:39

    Hey Tito,
    First – sorry it took so long for me to notice your comment. Just distracted!

    I love the Data Center track as an option for folks getting into networking. Data Center networking is pretty different than the Enterprise-wide view of networking with CCNP R/S. I think it’s well worth the time. And if you just passed CCNA R/S, then passing the first of the two CCNA DC exams should be a relatively easy effort – there’s a ton of overlap between DCICN exam and ICND1 (with a little ICND2 thrown in). The challenge: getting hands-on for the CCNP DC track.

    As for the book, the in-stock date (first date it would be in the warehouse) is around Nov 7th, and that’s still a little squishy. If it changed, it’d be later than Nov 7th. I think you could count on Dec 1st at this point. Sounds like that’s not timely enough – wish it would be out sooner!

    Reply to this comment
  15. Vivek September 8, 09:59

    Hey Wendell,
    I am really grateful to you, for making this post. Initially to begin with, when I was preparing for CCNA R&S (boom), the new version came along. It was like, we are gonna be screwed but fortunately new got certified in the newer version of CCNA R&S. Similarly, we expected that this would happen CCNPv2, so my doubt is that by the time when we pass CCNPv2 R&S, will CCIE R&S be revised to a newer version?
    And I would also be pleased to know when will the Cisco press releases the CCNPv2 R&S, so that I could pursue on the preparation.
    Further, what would be your advise for me towards CCNPv2 R&S? I am planning to get certified within Dec 2016.
    Thank you very much.

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author September 8, 12:24

      Hi Vivek,
      Let’s see…
      I generally don’t comment about future cert changes, but we can all guess. CCIE R/S revved to V5 during 2014. With past history, it’ll be years before it revs. Cisco is rolling out the new CCNP this year as well – we’re in the middle of the transition now, with the new exams and the old exams available right now. If past history is any indication, you’ve got 3-4 years before either revs again. But that’s just a prediction based on their past behavior – no way to know.
      Cisco Press should have their new cert guides out by November (I think). Maybe acts on Facebook or Twitter – @ciscopress.
      As for advice, CCNP still benefits from spending more than a little time labbing. Watch for updates about VIRL and CML, but think about how to get plenty of lab time on the ROUTE and SWITCH features.
      Hope this helps!

      Reply to this comment
  16. Joe September 8, 10:44

    Great article Wendell,

    I have been studying for the ccnp R&S for a couple months now. I started with the old route material (pre-announcement) and have just made it through BGP. Things are progressing slower than hoped but I really want to go for the new exam, as it appears more relevant to my work.

    My question is what does cisco mean by Identify in the blue print? Example: Identify Cisco Express Forwarding Concepts.


    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author September 8, 12:26

      Hey Joe,
      Boy, did you hit the nail on the head. Cisco says nothing publicly about the meaning of “identify” or any of the verbs. So, while having exam topics that include verbs may be helpful, it’s up to us to guess their meaning.
      Personally – this is just opinion – I would treat identify the same as “configure” and “verify”, but maybe with a slightly lower requirement on memorizing the config and show commands. Of course, CEF doesn’t include a lot of CLI commands, but I think of “identify” more as understand, interpret what you’re shown, that kind of thing. On the other hand, for a “configure” topic, I’d expect you to remember all the config commands so that you could configure from scratch if needed.

      Reply to this comment
  17. bankole temi September 17, 12:44

    I completed my ccna r&s exams some couples of month back.I want to ask what is the advantage ccnp security have over ccnp r& considering which one to go into and which one pay’s at the end.thanks

    Reply to this comment
  18. Dan October 31, 18:53

    I would like to know if a network simulator similar to your excellent 200-120 version will ever be released for the new ccnp. I would also like to ask if you recommend I obtain your old route and kevins tshoot books to supplement the new book series.I ask this because I have been using your ccna books and am comfortable with your style of presentation. I have also used kevins book for net+.

    Reply to this comment
  19. certskills Author November 3, 09:10

    Hi Dan,
    Pearson hasn’t created a CCNP Sim. As to whether/if, that’s really a question for Pearson. While my name is on the cover of the CCNA Sim, it’s actually a rather large piece of software, and my role was limited to the design of the networking features, and writing/editing a large number of the first edition labs. So, I get my name on the cover. 🙂 But there’s a lot of people on that project, and it’s a much larger (and more expensive to create) product than a book. Maybe reach out to them at, or on Twitter or Facebook, and add one more voice to the input – they do listen.

    As for the CCNP books, thanks – glad you like my style. However, I think you’ll be ok with the new ROUTE book (although I’ve not seen it). Couple of reasons. First, Kevin Wallace revised the book for this latest edition, and he’s a great writer. Second, he used some of the material I had in the previous edition, so you’ll still get some of the Wendell-style passages in it. However, just a suggestion… look for any free trial with You often see those in the back of the ciscopress books. When the ROUTE book is out, start your safari subscription, and look at the ROUTE book there. Then you can decide whether you’d like to get the new one or not.
    Hope this helps!

    Reply to this comment
  20. Alen Trklja December 17, 06:30

    Greetings Wendell.
    First of all, thank you for great CCNA PDF’s, sure helped me a lot to pass that exam with 1000 points 🙂
    Now, my question..
    Is it better investment/option to enroll into CCNA Security and then after that to go for CCNP R&S, or just go straight for CCNP R&S?
    I’m short on money, so I really don’t want to make any bad decisions.

    Best Regards,

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author December 17, 11:34

      Hi Alen,
      You’re very welcome!
      On your question, unfortunately, there’s no simple answer between the two. The answer depends on some things you control, and many things you don’t. I’d suggest looking closely at local job market info – historical job listings in particular. Job markets often have local biases about what’s hot and what’s not. That said, in the US, I believe that R/S and security are still in pretty high demand.

      Maybe the one piece of good advice I can give is that if you goal is to get a better job, more $, and if you want to pick one technology area, then plan to get through to CCNP. For example, don’t compare CCNA Security to CCNP R/S, but rather CCNP Security to CCNP R/S. If you want to be a specialist, CCNP level skill is where you need to be. If you want to be more of a generalist, then multiple CCNAs is reasonable.

      Sorry it’s not so objective, but I hope this helps…

      Reply to this comment
      • Alen Trklja December 18, 05:18

        Thank you man!
        Your advice help me a lot, because here in Bosnia, if you want a reasonable job/paycheck and so on…, you need the highest degree of education possible.
        I would like to finish all CCNA’s and then all CCNP’s, but A LOT of money is needed, and no jobs can be found here even with all CCNA’s.

        So, I will go straight for CCNP R,S and TSHOOT 🙂
        I just hop I find more of your books, because they are the simplest and the best ones I ever found when preparing for CCNA exam.

        Thanx a lot! 🙂

        Reply to this comment
  21. Herbert Davis December 20, 06:57

    Yes its really a helpful and good trend that exam topics list weightings for the topics but for this the knowledge about your study program must be complete ..

    Reply to this comment
  22. prabhu January 1, 15:55

    hi sir! this is prabhu.I completed my bachelors in I’m enquering about ccna course.I don’t about this course and if I go with that means how my future will be?so,please clear my doubts.

    thanking you sir,

    Reply to this comment
  23. prabhu January 1, 16:04

    hi sir! this is prabhu.I completed my bachelors in I’m enquiring about ccna course.I don’t about this course and if I go with that means how my future will be?so,please clear my doubts.

    thanking you sir,

    Reply to this comment
  24. Rana Irfan January 6, 15:47

    Hi, i did my ccna 21may2014, now i wish to pass my ccnp R&S route paper. please suggest me is it my right decision to do that or this is quite early for me. Because i am now guy in networking field.

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author January 12, 09:14

      Hi Rana,
      Thanks for the question. Well, it’s not a matter of right and wrong without any other considerations – it’s what’s right and wrong for you. And that answer depends on you, your goals, and your interests.

      I’m starting a series over in the blog today about creating a career development plan. Part of that series will talk about planning your career goals. The answer to your question flows in part from those goals, and also from your interests.

      Congrats on CCNA, by the way – that’s a big step. Now ask yourself – what do you want to be when you grow up? Then think about your CCNP R/S cert (or not) question again.

      Reply to this comment
      • Rana Irfan January 21, 08:13

        Let me explain one thing, is it possible that my friend who is in Saudi Arabia can pay my ccnp exam fee through credit card but i am in Pakistan……????

        Reply to this comment
  25. certskills Author January 12, 09:10

    Hi Prabhu,
    Wow, the answer to that question is long. however, let me offer two perspectives.

    Let’s say you’re interested in a career that includes computer networking. What should you learn? If you pursue a degree program at university, they tell you what courses to take, and what to learn. However, if you don’t pursue an additional degree, but want to learn networking, what do you need to learn? Well, certifications do a great job of mapping out a kind of curriculum, or at least a set of topics and skills to learn. So for many who aren’t in school, certifications guide their study plan.

    If you choose networking, without pursuing a degree, what certifications should you pursue? You can choose Network+, which is more basic, or Cisco’s certifications, which are more rigorous. Cisco’s start with CCENT, which is basically the first half of CCNA Routing and Switching, and then you can move on to CCNA Routing and Switching, or CCNA Voice, or CCNA Security, and several others.
    Hope this helps!
    Wendell Odom

    Reply to this comment
  26. FranCisco January 21, 16:04

    Thank you for the valuable advice, Mr Odom!
    Your CCNA books helped me a lot to really understand what I was doing at my work, and get my CCNA R/S!
    I’m going now to CCNP, I already bought the new books (it looks really hard when I compared the old and new versions) but seems to be more interesting!
    Thanks a lot!

    Reply to this comment
  27. Shahi August 28, 11:32

    Dear Mr. Wendell Odom ,

    First of all thank you so very much for the great book and the advice you provide us. I am going to take CCNP-Switch paper, would you like to tell me the Fees for CCNP-Switch Exam, currently i am based here in Saudi Arabia please also tell me can i have to pay for CCNP Switch\Route & T-Shoot separately or as a whole. Looking for your prompt reply. Thanks in advance.

    Kind Regards,


    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author September 2, 06:24

      Hi Shahi,
      Thanks for the post! You’re welcome, and glad you like the books and blogs.
      On the fees – I do not know. I looked around, and I couldn’t find the answer either. So, how to find the answer? Well, the folks at Cisco Learning Network ( can often point to the right place to get program questions answered, because they work in the same organization that builds Cisco’s training and exams. I’d suggest searching there, and if you don’t find an answer, posting a question. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful in this case!

      Reply to this comment
  28. October 5, 08:14

    Great Post !

    Reply to this comment
  29. Marcus Hansen November 26, 13:22

    Hello, Wendell!

    I’m a CCNA thanks to your priceless contribution to the Cisco Press publications. I have planned to obtain the certification, CCNP R&S. I am, however, also wrapping up my Associates Degree in Software Development, and of course pursue the Bachelors.

    What is your perspective on the intermingling of Software Development, and the future of Networking Infrastructure, most notably “SDN”


    Reply to this comment
  30. certskills Author December 1, 10:19

    Hi Marcus,
    Wow, that’s a big question!
    Well, I’ve written a few thoughts at one of my other blogs: Shorter version appropriate for here, networking is going through a transformation, no matter the label you put on it. It’s easily the biggest transformation since the introduction of IP as the primary L3 protocol used in businesses coupled with the advent of the commercial Internet. It’s driven by software, but how much will be software that automates and controls (think northbound) vs direct control of the devices. Still to be determined. It’s a fantastic era in which to be where you are in your studies.

    Reply to this comment
  31. Noah December 27, 17:15

    Hello Odom,

    Thanks for all the great work you did on the icnd1 and 2 books. it had to be a looot of work to gather all this relevant information. Much respect.

    I am finishing my CCNA, and start wondering what i am going to do after that, so i decided to go for the CCNP R&S.

    Day to Day i work with routers with basics configurations like static routes, floating static routes, dhcp server, ROAS…

    But i don’t know which one to take first the SWITCH or ROUTE..

    Can you please help me ?

    Best Regards,

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author January 8, 09:57

      Hi Noah,
      Ask 100 experienced networkers who have been through CCNP R&S, and most will give this bit of advice as their #1 criteria:

      Choose Route or Switch as your first test, based on which you are strongest with when beginning your study.

      That’s it. So if you are stronger on switch, start there, and focus. Stronger on routing, start there. If it’s a toss up, you can flip a coin, but my personal tiebreaker is to go for switching if you’re equally prepared for both ROUTE and SWITCH. Route’s just more to consume.

      Hope this helps,

      Reply to this comment
      • Noah January 9, 13:24

        Thanks for your answer.

        Just passed ICND2 today!!

        I’ll go straight on ROUTE since my work is 90% Routing and 10% Switching.

        Thanks again !

        Reply to this comment
  32. Jexter Fabriga August 15, 01:20


    I am a CCNA certified already and working as part of a Firewall team but I am still confuse if I should take first CCNA Security or pursue the CCNP R&S track.

    May I have your thoughts please?

    Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author September 4, 08:53

      Hi Dexter,
      I think both tracks would be of use. I’d think in medium-term length of career – call it 5 years. Then ask: would you prefer to work in security all those years? Then I’d go ahead and move into security certs, and CCNA security is a good next step. However, if you’re thinking more broadly, then getting deep on R/S makes good sense. Going deeper with R/S will help you somewhat in your daily job, most likely, but also prep you for the one or two job role changes over that 5 year span. Just my own thoughts. Hope they’re helpful. Sorry for the delay.

      Reply to this comment
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