CCNA Content Changes and Your Reaction: Keep Studying!

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

Wow. Nine named CCNA certifications, plus CCDA – all being replaced by one CCNA certification come February 2020. Basically, Cisco morphed CCNA Routing and Switching (R&S) into the new CCNA.

So, what should you do, if you were headed towards CCNA R&S? This post takes a brief look at some of the major decision points as related to the content in the exams.

Quick Context

Were you pursuing CCNA R&S (or CCENT) when Cisco announced their sweeping redesign of Cisco career certifications on June 10, 2019? Then this post is for you. This post hits the big ideas, without too much detail, focusing on technology content in the old and new exams.

I will revisit all of these topics over the coming months!

Also, on announce day or the next, I’ll also post this post: Same gist but focused on program changes rather than exam content.

CCNA Program Changes and Your Reaction: Keep Studying!


Overview: What Topics Go Away

As with any transition from an old to a new exam, some topics leave, some topics arrive, some topics stick around as is, some topics stick around but with different depth and emphasis. I’ll explore these ideas here in the blog in some detail over the coming months – I’ve been heads-down writing about it all, so it’s fresh in my mind – but for announcement week, let me get the big ideas out for considerations.

Comparing the existing/old CCNA R&S 200-125 exam topics to the new CCNA 200-301 exam topics, the following are no longer mentioned:

  • OSI
  • VTP
  • RIP
  • eBGP
  • IOS licensing
  • IOS upgrades
  • Most WAN topics (serial, PPP, MPLS, Metro Ethernet)

Additionally, a fair number of topics that were listed with the verbs “configure and verify” are now listed with the verb “describe” or similar. Also, the word troubleshoot does not appear in the CCNA 200-301 blueprint.


Overview: What New Topics Appear

The new CCNA 200-301 exam blueprint includes some new topics. I’ve listed the number of chapters in my new books that cover each, for perspective. The larger new topics include:

  • Wireless LANs (perspective: 4 chapters in my new books)
  • Dynamic ARP Inspection and DHCP Snooping (1 Chapter)
  • Security Architectures (1 Chapter)
  • Overlay, Underlay, Fabric, DNA Center (1 chapter)
  • Ansible, Puppet, Chef (1 chapter)
  • JSON, structured data, REST (1 chapter)

That might seem like a lot of new content, but comparing past changes to the CCNA R&S exam, it’s not a lot of new content. For perspective, my existing CCNA Cert Guides have 64 chapters combined (short chapters to make it easy to get through one chapter in one study session.) The new books will have 48 Chapters (25% reduction in comparison). Of those, nine of the 48 cover the larger all-new content, with other smaller new topics spread around in the context of other chapters.


Changes in Content

Once we get closer to Feb 2020, I plan to create a blog post that tells you how to better study for the new CCNA if you use existing study materials. That said, there are two notable subtle changes to topics that remain but the focus changes:

Troubleshooting: The root word “troubleshoot” does not exist in the blueprint for the new exam. The current CCNA 200-125 blueprint uses that verb 28 times in the 66 exam topics that have verbs: yes, about 40% of the existing CCNA R&S exam topics used the verb “troubleshoot”. 0% for the new 200-301 exam blueprint. It will be interesting to see the effect of this change in the actual exam.

Describe vs. Config/Verify: A number of technologies have exam topics with verbs “configure and verify” in the old CCNA 200-125 blueprint, with the new blueprint listing the same technology but with a verb like “describe” or “compare and contrast”. Just to list a few off the top of my head: HSRP, SNMP, RSTP+.


Net: New CCNA is Smaller

By my estimation, the new CCNA 200-301 – with the exam availability in February 2020 – is about 25% smaller than the current CCNA 200-125 exam. That should be roughly true of the book page count when the dust settles, along with other measurements.

Your Decision Hinges on Your Motivations

You have decisions to make. Let me get us started on that conversation with a couple of examples, and we can chat about questions and variations here. I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic a few times during our 8.5-month transition.

First, ask yourself: Why are you pursuing a certification in the first place? Is it the certification? Is it the next certification, or the next? Is it some of the things you get by being certified – like a job interview, or landing a job? Is it more the skills and knowledge, or the things you get from having that skill/knowledge?

Your motivations will drive your path as to whether you keep going and pass the Cisco exams available through February 2020, or if you change course and plan to pass the new exams. Here are a few examples for people currently pursuing CCNA R&S to get us thinking and talking.


Motivation: Get CCNP R&S Certified? Keep Learning CCNA

If your primary interest in CCNA R&S was because it was a prerequisite for CCNP R&S, then don’t wait 8 months for the new certs! Keep learning.

Note that CCNP Routing and Switching (R&S) morphs into CCNP Enterprise with the program changes, or at least that’s the closest comparison.

To understand why I land on “keep learning”, you need to know some differences with what happened to CCNP. The closest new CCNP to the old CCNP R&S is the new CCNP Enterprise. All the new CCNP certifications require you to take one Core exam, plus one of several Concentration exams. If you look at the exams for CCNP Enterprise, the CCNP Enterprise Core, plus the CCNP Enterprise Advanced Routing exam, come the closest to matching the old CCNP R&S – just with less content to learn.

The reason I say “keep learning CCNA” is this: Your study for the current CCNA R&S prepares you for several topics in the CCNP Enterprise exams. Some support for that:

  • The new CCNA is smaller than the old CCNA R&S, and some of that moved to CCNP Enterprise. But for future CCNP Enterprise folks, the old CCNA covers topics you will need for CCNP – and you can study for those now.
  • I see about 11 chapters from my CCNA Cert Guides that apply directly to content in the CCNP Core, EG, some OSPF, STP/RSTP configuration and troubleshooting.
  • EIGRP does not make an appearance until the CCNP Enterprise Advanced Routing exam (you would go ahead and learn about EIGRP for the existing CCNA 200-125 exam).


Motivation: Certification (CCNA) Focused? 50/50

Now let’s consider the case in which you were pursuing CCNA R&S certification, you weren’t planning to do more with Cisco certs, and you did not care as much about the content as you did about the certification. Maybe you just wanted to round out your resume’, maybe you want certifications from several different technology areas, and so on. But your goal is the certification, and the skills are a bonus.

I would say this is a rare case in which you might consider waiting to take the new exam. (You can keep studying, but for the topics in the new exam.) I say that you might want to wait because there are other reasons to keep studying to pass the existing CCNA R&S exams. But here are some reasons to wait:

  • The new CCNA (based on exam 200-301) is smaller in the sheer volume of topics to learn.
  • The new CCNA adds some more modern and currently-useful technologies for today while removing two topics (RIP and VTP) that you will probably never use.

If you choose this path, consider a study plan that lets you wrap your study not long after the new exams come out in February 2020.

However, for you, I’d also consider passing the existing CCNA R&S 200-125 exam. Reasons:

  • You’re already half of the way finished studying for the existing CCNA, so it’s better to finish rather than to forget what you learned over these next 8.5 months.
  • Who knows, maybe you’ll decide to go for a CCNP Enterprise certification, so you may as well keep rolling.


Motivation: Skills (CCNA) Focused? Keep Studying

If your motivation to pursue CCNA R&S is more about getting the skills, with the certification being a nice side effect, then your path should be clear: keep studying. Here are some reasons why:

  • 8 months is a long time to wait for the new exams, so don’t lose your momentum – keep studying.
  • Of the topics you would have to learn for CCNA R&S but that you would not have to learn for the new CCNA, all are useful except a couple: RIP, and probably VTP. The rest are still useful things to know.
  • You can wrap your learning with the tools you already own, rather than buying new CCNA study products, so no need to spend more cash to buy new study tools for the new exams.


How about You?

I imagine this post will spark some thought and discussion. Fire away with your opinions, thoughts, questions, and so on. Note that I’m posting this while I’m at Cisco Live 2019, and it’s a busy week, but I’ll make sure and follow up as soon as I can to your comments – even if I don’t get to them until I’m on the plane coming home from the show.

CCNA Program Changes and Your Reaction: Keep Studying!
June/July Online Events for the New CCNA and CCNP Enterprise
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Thank you for the post and the potential breakdown between the old and new exam. As someone who is just starting this journey, I was concerned about the change and what to do. I’ve got 20+ years left and am trying to change careers. Talking with friends in IT, Networking seems to be a good option. At any rate, my goal was to have my CCENT by January of next year, so don’t know if I will be able to obtain my CCNA by the changeover deadline. Part of the issue is that I’ve just (barely) started and the time I have available to devote to studying isn’t as much as I would like due to work and family obligations. So, after sleeping on it, and now seeing this post I think the updates aren’t that bad. So now I’m looking at possibly waiting until the new exam is out to test. In the meantime, I will use what materials I have to study the topics that will be included in the new exam and then obtain new study material that covers the new topics as the become available. Does this sound like a good idea? Thanks!


Hello Wendell,
As usual, thanks for your insight.
I confess I am a bit divided at this point because I was studying for my CCNA Security with the objective of both increasing my knowledge and renewing my CCNA RS.
Now I don’t know what to do because my CCNA RS only expires in Jan 2021.

I look at the new CCNA and I see things I would like to get deeper into (foundation/knowledge wise), and I also look into the new CCNP Enterprise Core, and quite a few of those I am already fairly aware both because of my current CCNA RS and my Sec studies.

Honestly I think this is still fairly new and I need more time and info to make a decision. Lets see what other info Cisco releases.

By the way, will you be writing any CCNP books as well?


Wendell, Any idea about availability date for the Official Cert Guide for the new CCNA exam?


Hello Wendell, with the new changes I am kind of confused on what to do. I just passed my ICND1 exams two weeks ago and now studying for my ICND2.

My plan is get the ICND2 done and proceed to CCNP get a job while I proceed to my CCNP. I am excited about the changes but do I still proceed to seat for my ICND2 in first week in August 2019?

Best Regards
Emmanuel Christopher


Thanks for the post. As someone who has recently decided to change careers into networking and had barely started studying, I was a little taken aback by the change. But after sleeping on it, further thinking about it, and reading your post, I am OK with it and am modifying my plans. Due to some time constraints related to my current work schedule and family obligations, my original goal was to have my CCENT by December of this year. Now I am planning on using the materials I have to study what looks like will still be on the exam and then closer to the exam, study the new, additional CCNA material. What do you think?

Adam Snetiker

Hi Wendell. When will your new books be available?

The more I think about it, the more I want to go after the NEW CCNA because it sounds like it’s a better fit with my background. I’m a self-taught web developer, so I’ve already heard of Ansible, Chef and Puppet – I just never got far enough in my own studies to really learn them.

A year ago, I saw a banner on Cisco’s website that says “Learn C++ for IoT” so I started taking C++ courses and realized how valuable programming is even in the networking world. I’m actually happy to see it becoming a bigger part because I’m enjoying it and think having the new skills will set me apart if I have a strong foundation in the old.

Kevin Wallace’s learning path has a few things on that section but doesn’t mention the other 5 areas you mention above. I’m not in a rush, but I’d like to start learning that stuff. For now, I can keep going over fundamentals but the sooner I can get any of your content for 200-301 the better.

Thanks (and sorry for the really long comment).


I got my ccna rs this year then I began studying for my ccnp route, which is what I’ve been currently busy with. My question is, will the pre Feb 2020 CCNA rs still act as a prerequisite for the new ccnp’s?

Brex hit

There’s no prerequisite anymore. Was studying ROUTE too and will continue given ICND2 covers topics in CCNP ENTERPRISE anyway.

Aaron Shannon

Is it worth taking the exam for the ICND1 when I will be unable to take the ICND2 before the changes take place? Or should I just study for both but wait until after the changes are rolled out? Thank you.


Hi Wendell,
I plan to sit for my ICND2 exam next month, I have covered a lot of ground and won’t make sense to wait until Feb 2020 for the new exam. However I would like to lean some of the new material in the new exam.
So my question, will I need to buy both volumes, or is the new content mostly in Volume 2? –to save on $$–so that I don’t end up buying the two Vols and considering I already own both ICND1 and 2 books.



Hi Wendell,

As someone who is about to take ICND2 soon (and hopefully pass), I’ll be looking ahead to CCNP Enterprise. My plan was to spend interim learning about autoamtion/Python, as well as what I can of the existing CCNP exam objectives which feature in the new exam. Basically try and get aheaed so once the new Cisco Press books are out I can hit the ground running.

Your post got me thinking. I need to also learn the ‘new stuff’ in the CCNA which you’ve outlined above as well so I don’t get caught out with more advanced topics in the CCNP exams. Is it safe to assume that the majority of these (Wireless + security at least) topics would be taken from the present CCNA Wireless/Security tracks? I’m thinknig of ways to plug these gaps without buying a new OCG specifically for the new stuff.

Any advice?



I haven’t been able to find anything that covers the new Cisco certifications affecting 8570 compliance. Currently CCNA Security can be used for IAT Level I & II, and CSSP Analyst:

Since CCNA Security is effectively going away, are the options now to take Comptia’s Security+ or obtain CCNP Security? Or is there other information not accounted for in the Training and Certification FAQ:


Thank you!

Brad Jewell

Hi Wendell,

Unfortunately, I started a Cisco Network Academy course three weeks ago. It’s estimated that each course is 12 weeks long. So by our estimates, we should be completed this course in April 2020. Already, you’ve listed topics that are going away that I’m currently learning. I’ve spoken to my instructor who was also not informed of the big change and right now all they can say is keep going, these topics will be included….but they aren’t now. I would of liked Cisco to of notified the schools that are apart of the Academy to advise them to stop offering these courses if they will surpass February 2020. I like the academy cause it gives me a schedule to complete everything. But at this point, I feel that I would like to get my money back and just invest it into your books and the simulated labs. What are your thoughts?


Thank you so much for looking into this Wendell. I can understand that the Academy isn’t ready to roll this out just yet, (insert Monday Morning Quarterbacking) but they would of known that this was going to happen at Cisco Live and could of at least thought “Hey, instead of leaving some students high and dry and not have any answers for them or the institutions that provide them this class, lets tell them to just not offer to start any new students from this point on (Say January 2019) so that any new students won’t be starting in May and won’t complete the course in time to right the old CCNA”.

If they say that the new curriculum will be merged in and these students will be able to continue and the next 3 will focus on the new CCNA, great. But you make a big announcement and neither the Certification department, the Learning department and the Academy department are communicating and planning this out? For a company that’s supposed to be the best in the industry in networking, their communication skills kind of suck.

The institution I’m going through has not even responded back to my last emails cause they don’t know what’s even going on and the Dean of the department is at Cisco Live. I’ve contacted back Cisco Academy via Twitter and their FB account and all I’m getting is the same info that was on the press release. They aren’t getting back to me with any answers to my questions and concerns.

I’m currently unemployed and have all the time in the world to use your books (which are awesome) and the simulator to knock them out of the park. But the institution I’m going thru won’t refund us the money like this. At least not yet.

Sorry…now I’m just venting. You have bigger fish to fry and I appreciate the time you spent in looking into this for me. You are truly the voice of the voiceless. The “No Answer” response from them is just continuing to build my belief that I am merely a number to Cisco, when I do have a name.


I did get a response back from the Academy.

“”What will the impact be on the Networking Academy CCNA courses?
A. In November new CCNA courses that align to the new CCNA certification will be made available. These new courses will contain several enhancements including improved course layout, expanded use of learning tools emphasizing hands-on learning, improved assessment security, and new user experience with enhanced accessibility conformance. In the meantime, we encourage Networking Academy instructors to continue to offer current courses as these topics remain relevant to prepare students for a networking career. In addition, new certification preparation modules will be available in
November to help students who complete existing courses prepare for the new certifications. Translations of both courses and preparation modules will roll out during the first half of 2020.”

David Alon

Hi Wendell,
Does this mean it will still be possible to schedule current version of the exam till Feb 2020 ? (and even 6 months after that date for ICND2 v3 if you passed ICND1 v3, if what Cisco told is correct 🙂 )

David Paquet

ugh, all the $ spent on Cisco press. Motivation is Security and DevOps. However, not much out there in the way of material yet for DevOps. Will VIRL eventually be updated to reflect these changes?

Carlos D.

Hi Wendell,

I passed the ICND1 3 months ago and before the big news from Cisco I was planning to take the CCNA Security 210-260 in January 2020, however I have not started studying for it yet. What would you recommend me to do?

In one hand I have still time to prepare and take the exam before February 2020, however I would be studying from books and material published 3-4 years ago in contrast to the fresh CCNA material being published in a few months. Also, waiting for the new CCNA makes me feel like paying for the CCENT exam was a waste of time and money.

Carlos D.


Hi Carlos,
I would advise you start working on you CCNA security and get Certified by your Jan 2020 timeline, certificate is still valued and valid for the next 3 years…and aim for then new CCNP security after Feb 2020. If you feel the timeline is too tight, do your ICND2 before Feb2020 and get the New CCNA badge. Either way it’s a win win, get studying you have time.

Carlos D.

Thanks Kayvow, I will study for the ICND2 since I have better resources to study from and also to guarantee pass the test hehe.

Carlos D.

Thank you for answering me Wendell, I agree with everything you say. I am interested in the security, however I have better resources to study for the ICND2 and will pursue this cert. Also I have seen many comments that is recommended to get the CCNA R&S before the CCNA Sec.
I will keep checking your blog for your insights.

Ali Doski

usefull information about new ccna thanks Wendell


Hi Wendell – will you be writing the CCNP Enterprise books personally? I enjoyed the ICND1 and 2 books by yourself so was wondering.

Also thanks for fielding all these questions.

David Alon

thx for all your precious help sir 🙂

David Alon

Hi Wendell,
I passed ICDN1 today, with a score at 930 ! For sure, your blog played its part 🙂 Now ICDN2…

Sainty A. Thomas

Hi Wendell, I am currently studying for the CCNA and plan to write before end 2019. I am also planning to start the CCDA in January 2020 and thereafter start the CCDE.

My question is this:

What happened to the CCDA, CCDP and CCDE track? My aim was always designing and CCDE seem perfect for me but how do I approach it now with the new changes?




Hi Wendell !!
First of all thanks for your valuable time for answering all of the questions.

I work in network security and currently preparing for a security cert from another vendor but i have a CCNA (R&S) from Cisco which is going to expire in mid of August 2019.

Since i want to keep my Cisco cert, so from last 2 weeks i was trying to prepare for CCNA security so i can pass it before the expiration of my CCNA (R&S) but after this change i am a little confused as i want to keep the cert but don’t want to spend time and money on something which is going to finish soon i.e CCNA security.

My question is that for re-certification what should be my best option would be according to the above Scenario?



Really appreciate your response. What i have understood after your above explanation is that after transition i will have :
a new CCNA and a security badge till Aug 2022 (recertifiable).
I think other recert options will take more time as compared to CCNA Security at this time. So i think i will go with CCNA security then.

Thanks for your suggestions.This is my first post on your blog and found it really useful for future.
Would like to keep in touch.


Hi, what happened if someone who is not from programming background or have no idea anything about programming language as there are topics in New CCNA R&S which related to programming language, so my question is, is it mandatory to Learn programming language deeply although I am not from programming background. So kindly advise.


my question is this, For the sake of learning and staying up to date, will you release a “Lite” version of your book that goes over only the new material?

Is it recommended if we have current CCNA (or are studying to get it), that we also get the new one to display that our skills are current, or is this something we can handle after the certification expires and we get recertified?

fairly new here, but really enjoy and appreciate this blog…. do you recommend any other good blogs for this type of information?


Bela Szasz

I’m in a weird situation. I wanted to go back to IT sector after I had left it 10 years ago. In 2004 I did once a CCNA course without to get the certificate ( I could not afford it in that time). Now I’m really worrying about the new Cisco exam changes as I have just started the ICND100-105 (based on your book, but I paid for a course a couple of hundreds of pounds) which started in July , 2019 and will be finished in July, 2020). It was my fault of course that I did not check all the circumstances and got the news about the new Cisco exams after I had started my course. This course takes a lots of money for my family and I won’t be able to finish this (actually it will be a CCNA R&S exam in next July, not the separated ICND1 and ICND2 so I have to do both at same time) before 20th of February, 2020. I will finish your ICND1 book in October, 2019 and I’ll start the ICND2, so the earliest I can finish both books in April,2020 (as per my calculation). I checked your article and really worried about the changes announced by Cisco because I won’t be able to learn 10 new chapters from April till July, 2020. My only idea is if you could be so kind and advise me which chapters I must leave out from my studying plan from your old ICND1 and 2 books, so I could finish these earlier and I still have some time to study the new exam chapters.
I would not like to loose a whole year (I cannot afford it) to fail the CISCO CCNA R&S test and wasting the money and extend it to another year. I’m only a caretake & cleaner currently so you can imagine my wage currently.
My second question is: I saved some money to buy one of the Pearson Cisco simulator. It is quite cheap currently but I’m not sure which one would be the most suitable for me. Am I mistaken if I buy the CCNA 200-125 insted of the 100-105 and 200-105?
Could you please advise me on this as well?
Many Thanks, Kind Regards,

Bela Szasz

Thanks for your reply. It is very useful. Anyway I found your article about how I can use the existing books for preparing for the new exam and I’m not worrying that much now.
Possible I was not that clear as I should have been.
1) This is a course but it means they gave me access to knowledge tutorials and videos but I came to the decision it is better to use your brilliant books so I self-study at home and using the course portal for labing and doing mock exams.
2) I’m working so I have only a 2-4 hours a day to learn and unfortunately I’m perfectionist so I’m not only learning but practicing the previous chapters I had studied before (I made a quiz app for me for every chapters of your book but unfortunately I do not reach the 85% yet in every cases).
3) I’m a slow learner as I’m not that young so I really need time to understand the things (and the English is not my native language).
If you combine these 3 points you can see that I won’t be able to do my exam earlier than next July. (I do not think the organizer company would allow me to do the ICND1 first and then the ICND2 because we agreed to do both at same time as CCNA R&S)
So the study plan is now: I’m learning chapter 13 and 14 form the ICND1 book in this week so the best to finish this book is about endish of October (if I do not learn those 3 chapters you indicated with 0). I’ll start the second book then and following your learning instructions about that which chapters are important (3 or 2) or I can buy the new books (but which one? the volume 2?). So I can skip 10 chapters from your ICND2 book, so possible I’ll have enough time to check and learn the new books / chapter until April, 2020.
Thanks for the advise for the simulator.
Many Thanks,
Best Regards,

Lisa Carr

I have my CCNA and CCNP: R&S. They expire in 2021. I was planning to get CCNA: Wireless as wireless skills seem to be in demand where I live. If I take the Wireless exam a month from now, I will have CCNA Wireless (would still need to renew CCNP but haven’t decided if I’m going to sit SWITCH before 2/24/20 or just wait and pass the new exam). Since I already have CCNA R&S, getting a CCNA Enterprise is worthless as I’ll already be getting that from my R&S. Will I still be claim CCNA Wireless until 2023? Cisco is being extremely vague on this training badge stuff. Is it likely that I would get something added to my CCNA Enterprise indicating I was Wireless also?

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