How to Study for the New CCNA Exam with Your Existing CCNA Books

By certskills June 21, 2019 09:05

You can choose to pursue the existing CCNA Routing and Switching certification or pursue the new CCNA certification come Feb 2020. However, this post does not talk about the choice, but instead focuses on how to pursue option 2:

You looked at the changes, your situation, and are choosing to study for the new CCNA 200-301 exam that comes out late February 2020. What can you study now to prepare for the CCNA 200-301 exam?

Interested? Read on!

Not “You Should the New CCNA,” but “If You Do, Here’s How”

I’m posting this blog post about 8 months before the release of the CCNA 200-301 exam. This post does not tell you to pursue the new CCNA. That’s up to you, and I’ve got two earlier posts from last week that spell out some of the things to consider when making that choice:

CCNA Program Changes and Your Reaction: Keep Studying

CCNA Content Changes and Your Reaction: Keep Studying

If you choose to pursue the existing CCNA Routing and Switching certification now and complete it before Feb 24, 2020, great! However, the study path for the existing exam is clear, with plenty of study resources available. You may not need any guidance at all.

However, most everyone who chooses to pursue the new CCNA now could use a little advice. If you choose to pursue the new CCNA certification (that is, the only remaining CCNA as of Feb 24, 2020, which does not have any words after the “CCNA”), then you have a small problem today. Given how Cisco chose to release information about their certification changes, no one has study material or courses available as of the June 10, 2019 announcement.

This post is about how you can study for the new CCNA 200-301 exam with existing materials while you’re waiting on the new CCNA study products (like my books) to get to market.


Perspective: Compare the Old and New Blueprints

One way to study for the new exam now, with materials built for the old/existing 200-125 exam, is to use any material for the 200-125 exam but ignore topics removed from the exam topics (that is, the exam blueprint). You can do a line-by-line analysis for yourself, but of course, I’ve been deep into the blueprints while writing the new books. Here’s a list of the significant topics not found in the CCNA 200-301 exam (new) vs. the existing CCNA 200-125 exam:

  • OSI
  • VTP
  • RIP
  • eBGP
  • IOS licensing
  • IOS upgrades
  • Most WAN topics (serial, PPP, MPLS, Metro Ethernet)
  • IPv6 Routing protocols
  • IPv6 ACLs

The removal of the “troubleshoot” verbs from the new CCNA 200-301 blueprint creates another challenge when studying with existing materials. The CCNA 200-125 blueprint has 28 exam topics that use the verb “troubleshoot,” while the new blueprint has zero. Any existing material that you use should have significant troubleshooting content; you could save time and skip any materials that are specific to troubleshooting.

Finally, some topics in the blueprint formerly had verbs of “configure” and/or “verify,” but now how a conceptual-only verb, like “describe” or “compare.” In those cases, you could choose to skip any CLI Commands about those topics in your existing study material. The topics include:

  • New ET 2.5: Describe… RSTP (formerly configure, verify, troubleshoot)
  • New ET 3.5: Describe… First Hop Redundancy Protocols (formerly configure, verify, troubleshoot HSRP)
  • New ET 4.4: Explain… SNMP (formerly configure, verify)
  • New ET 5.5: Describe… VPNs (formerly configure, verify, troubleshoot GRE)

You could start analyzing the blueprints for yourself, and use my books, and make your own choices. However, if you have my books, read on – I have some more specific suggestions for you.


Useful Data about the Existing Cert Guides Vs. the New Exams

Another way to study now for the new CCNA 200-301 is to follow this study plan. I’ve listed the ICND1 100-105 and ICND2 200-105 chapters (the existing books), along with notes about whether you should study those chapters for the new exam or not.

Here’s what I did to make these recommendations. I looked at each chapter in the existing books and looked at my notes about how I’ve built the new books. (I’m about 75% done writing/revising to create the new books.) For each existing chapter, I scored it:

3: Most useful to study, because I kept most/all of that content in the new books. I might have split it up into multiple chapters, or combined into a new chapter, or ordered the chapters different (I reordered several chapters) but most of the content is in the new books, updated as needed.

2: Medium usefulness to study. If I kept some of the existing chapter in the new book, but not all of it, it gave it a 2.

1: Low usefulness to study. An existing chapter from which I kept any small topic for the new books gets a 1.

0: Zero use for studying for the topics in the new exam blueprint. EG, nothing in the exam blueprint lists or implies RIP or VTP. The existing books have chapters that cover only those topics – so those chapters get a 0.

Here’s the list for the ICND1 100-105 Cert Guide.

ICND1 Chapter Study Priority? Notes
1 3
2 3
3 2
4 3
5 3
6 3
7 3
8 3
9 3
10 2
11 3
12 2
13 3
14 3
15 3
16 3
17 3
18 3
19 0
20 2
21 1
22 1
23 3
24 1
25 3
26 3
27 3
28 3
29 3
30 3
31 1
32 3
33 2
34 2
35 0
36 0


Here’s the list for the ICND2 200-105 Cert Guide.

ICND2 Chapter Study Priority? Notes
1 0 Duplicate of ICND1 Chapter 11
2 3
3 1 STP/RSTP becomes a concept topic
4 1 Chapter is devoted to troubleshooting
5 0 VTP
6 2
7 3
8 3
9 0 EIGRP is not in the new CCNA blueprint
10 0
11 2 Chapter is devoted to troubleshooting, but I kept some in the new books anyway. 
12 0 eBGP is not in the new CCNA blueprint
13 1
14 2
15 2
16 0 Duplicate of ICND1 Chapter 25
17 0 Duplicate of ICND1 Chapter 26
18 3
19 3
20 2
21 0 Duplicate of ICND1 Chapter 24
22 0 No IPv6 routing protocols listed in new CCNA Blueprint
23 0
24 0
25 0 No IPv6 ACLs listed in new CCNA Blueprint
26 1
27 3
28 2



Study Plan: Read Sequentially, and Skip 0’s, Maybe 1’s, Maybe 2’s

Before my new books come out, you can study with the old books for the new exam. Just use them as usual, but for a subset of the chapters. That is, begin by reading the intro and “Your Study Plan” at the beginning of the book. Use all the review tools in the book and at Just skip some chapters.

Which chapters should you skip? Make your choice based on the ratings in the tables. If you think you only have time to finish the chapters with a “3” rating, just read those. If you have time to read the 2’s and 3’s, read those.

Also, take a close look at the table for ICND1, and the ratings for chapters 1 – 18 (the first half of the book). They’re mostly 3’s, with some 2’s – you could complete half of the ICND1 100-105 book before even slowing down to think about which chapters to skip!


Buying Existing Books? Consider Buying ICND1 Only

I wrote this post for those who already own the books, but if you’re considering buying the existing books now, to study for the new exam, follow the plan.

Buy the ICND1 100-105 book (and not the 2-book library), complete all the 2’s and 3’s chapters before my first new book comes out. It’s late June, and the new “CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide Vol 1” is due late September. That ICND1 100-105 book might be enough to keep you busy until September.

If you think you might go for the existing CCNA, you have time – 8 months with diligent study is attainable. Also, if you fall just a little short, you will have already learned at least half of what you need for the new CCNA. Here’s a link for the CCNA 200-125 library.


Is This You? Weigh In!

I am curious. If you’ve chosen to pursue the new CCNA, and are getting started studying now, what’s your plan? What will you study? Will you wait, or get started now?

June/July Online Events for the New CCNA and CCNP Enterprise
Cisco Cert Redesign: 3rd Set of 5 Facts
By certskills June 21, 2019 09:05
Write a comment


  1. Michael A Smith June 23, 13:53

    Hi Mr.Odom iam currently studying for my CCNA using your OCG icnd1 100-105 but iam half way through your book iam kinda stumped on whether to continue to get current before Feb 23 2020 or go new exam my thing is I have had to go back to refresh my mind on certain topics so I can retain it in memory which causes me to take more time what I mean to say is iam not sure I can pass two tests before the Feb 23rd due date.What should I do? I value your opinion on this matter.Thank You Sir.

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author June 23, 15:22

      I will make two suggestions. Take a few minutes, think, and visualize a path to passing the existing CCNA by Feb 23 (probably Feb 21, given the 23rd is a Sunday.) Now study with that timeline in mind for a month or two, give it a real try. Then re-evaluate.

      Why? Well, a lot of what you would study soon, on the current ICND1, will be in the new CCNA. So little time wasted – and even if you learn something that’s not on the exam, it may still be useful for your real job in other contexts. But think of you plan, write it down, visualize your success, work towards that goal. And if you need to pivot, and go for the new, so be it – but you’ll be that much closer.

      Alternatively, if you look at the timeline and just think “no way”, then study now for the new CCNA. I’ve given the beginnings of that plan in the latest post in this blog.

      Hope this helps,

      Reply to this comment
      • Elvin González June 23, 16:15

        Hello Mr. Odom
        My question is the next:
        Are we going to see DevNet topics the in the new CCNA book that you are releasing in September?

        Are you going to release new CCNP books with DevNet in order we can study?..

        Can we use IDEs like pycharm or eclipse to work with python for DevNet?

        Hope you answer as soon as possible..
        Thanks a lot…

        Reply to this comment
        • certskills Author June 25, 08:44

          Hi Elvin,
          Yes, my new books will cover all the topics in the new blueprint, including the “DevNet” topics. The blueprint lists most of those as “network automation and programmability”, but I get what you mean. 🙂

          As for books etc on the DevNet certs, I can’t promise any products personally, mainly because I can’t talk about future products. In fact, normally I can only talk about products once I’m finished with them. This time it’s weird – I’m still wrapping CCNA books after announcement. Short version, can’t really talk about the future, that’s up to the publisher. check for their announcements. Also, DevNet will likely start to post info about how to study for the new certs with their great content – watch for that!

          Sure, use all the IDEs you want – not a problem. I actually think those help you learn – I’m personally a big fan.

          I think that was all of your questions…

          Reply to this comment
          • Elvin González June 27, 10:21

            Thanks a lot Mr.Odom, all my questions were answered..
            Hope you have a great time..

  2. Hugues Mabille July 1, 06:55

    Dear Mister Odom Wendell,

    I’m Hugues, Belgium student -:) thank you for your books, they really help me to pass the ICND1 last week.
    And now I really don’t know what I need to do, study for the new CCNA exam, or studying for the ok ICND2.

    May be it will be easy to finish the ICND2(all my previous study cover some part of the labo of (routing protocols and troubleshoting), and study for the new exam next year (end of the year).
    Is that what I have to understand?

    I ll thank you very much for the time you take to respond to my question!


    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author July 2, 17:02

      Hi Hugues,
      I definitely think that you could complete your study for ICND2 before February 23, 2020. Of course it depends on time available, but because you have already passed ICND1, I would think you would need maybe 75, or 100 at most, hours to learn all of ICND2.

      Reply to this comment
      • Hugues Mabille July 3, 02:34

        Hello Wendell,

        Thank you very much for this clear response.

        Just a little small question again.
        What is the most important for the future, this certificataion (ICND1+2) , or the new CCNA?
        Do I need to study the new ccna after February to be up to date? or pass to something up (CCNA Data Center or Security or Wireless, IOT…?

        I’ll thank you already for the time you take to read,

        Have a Nice Day!


        Reply to this comment
        • certskills Author July 5, 14:57

          The key is to always be learning. Whether than leads to another certification or not does not matter as much. That said, I personally think that certifications are a good way to keep many people focused on continuing to learn. With that in mind, I’d ask you: what’s most interesting to you related to your career goals? What’s most interesting of all the projects you might work on in the next year or two in your current job? Use those questions to guide your choices of what to study.

          Reply to this comment
          • Hugues Mabille July 6, 05:31

            Hello Wendell,

            That’s the best response of ever.

            Every “students” have to remember it.
            Studying Continuing to study but never forget to focus of the goals of your study.

            Thank you,

            Wish you the best for your next books.


  3. Mansoor July 8, 09:28

    Hi Wendell,

    I got certified for CCNA in Dec 2018, had planned to do CCNP as well. Since cisco has revamped all cert levels, shall I go for the existing CCNP or wait till the exams are out in Feb 2020.

    One more thing I noticed is CCNA is no longer required for attaining CCNP ?. So in this way candidates can now go directly for CCNP ? 😃

    Reply to this comment
    • Mansoor July 8, 10:42

      Just read your other post, CCNA knowledge is required for CCNP Enterprise. However Cisco mentions not required I guess they made the CCNP level bit easy perhaps. I think it might help someone who would achieve the new CCNA. What are your thoughts on this Wendall ?.

      Reply to this comment
      • certskills Author July 9, 14:07

        Hi Mansoor,
        I’ll be talking about some of this next week on Safari – stop by if you’re part of that service.

        I do expect to blog a little more about those decisions, but a short answer… There’s lots to consider. I’m a big fan of passing ROUTE and SWITCH now – counts as the new CCNP Enterprise CORE – and then you have lots of options. But if you wait for CCNP Enterprise Core, no reason to wait to study – lots of overlap.

        On the CCNA as prereq thing, I don’t think they’ve made CCNP easier at all, and Cisco stressed that in their webinars and at Cisco Live. It’s a practical thing. Say you learned CCNA stuff on the job, want to pusue CCNP. Having to pass the exam is an unnecessary barrier – so they removed it. On the slip side, if you know nothing about networking, CCNA – both content and exam/cert – serve as a great guide and goal to learn the basics. But you can still choose whether to go for it all (knowlede/skills AND pass the exam) or just get the knowledge/skills, ignore the exam, and move straight on to CCNP.


        Reply to this comment
  4. JUSTIN C. July 10, 13:46

    I am just now starting to study for both exams for CCNA. How long would you give each test to study for before Feb 2020? 4 months for ICDN1 and 3 for #2 or what are your thoughts?

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author July 11, 11:31

      I’ve just gone through a more detailed analysis getting ready for a 2-hour Safari course next week about the new CCNA. I think it works better to also think about time per week that you will really do (not hope to do, but really do), and think about time needed. Some opinions:
      Ignoring geniouses and those with legit learning disablilities – that is, keeping it mainstream – I think CCNA takes 100-200 hours to achieve.
      It takes less if you:
      Are generally a fast learner
      Are generally good at math
      Are a fast reader/comprehender
      Willing to spend $ on tools (better tools = less time spent)
      Willing to study at least a little 5-6 days a week (more frequent study = more effective study)

      It takes you longer if it’s the opposite, of course.

      So, soul search, and give yourself an estimate of time required.

      Then, how much do you know already? I count 100-200 for someone knowing nothing going in. If you know 20%, you’re 20% less time to finish.

      Then do the math. How many weeks til Jan 31, 2020? roughly 28 at this point. If you can devote say 6 hours a week, 6*28=168. Did your estimate show you needing less than 168 hours? Then go for it!

      Why count weeks based on Jan 31, 2020? To give you 3 weeks to take (and retake) the existing exams.

      Sorry for the long answer. Short version: Plenty of time to start today, or even August, probably September for most people and still get CCNA R&S. Depends on your, and amount of time, etc.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Wilme Rosario July 12, 08:47

    I saw in ciscopress that you are going to release ccna volume 1 and ccna volume 2 for the new ccna certification.

    1- Is the volume2 an improved version of volume 1 or is it going to be the continuation of volume 1 to pass the new ccna certification?

    2- Can I pass the new ccna cert just studing the volume 1 book?

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author July 12, 09:52

      Thanks for asking.
      The volume of content won’t fit in one physical book, so we’re publishing it as two volumes. Once both are out, we’ll sell them as a 2-book set (for a little cheaper) called a “library”. (In publisher-speak, a library is a cardboard box with multiple products in it.) So if you were using the book(s) alone, yes, you would need both.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Matt July 28, 14:07

    Hi Wendell,

    As someone on the cusp of starting studying for their CCNA, this post is really helpful. Thank you for making it! I think I may wait and take the new certification but I will see how I go.

    Just out of curiosity, do you have an estimated time for when Vol 2. might be out of the new CCNA book (linking to Wilme’s question)? Do not feel you must answer if this is difficult, I’m just interested!

    Many thanks,


    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author July 29, 11:32

      Hey Matt,
      Glad the post is a help! Even if you start informally now, hope that you’ll at least get started – would definitely get you rolling once you choose a vector and get serious.

      Sure, on timing, Vol 2 is scheduled out by end of the calendar year. Vol 1 is due Sept 20th, but that’s still not set in stone – and then there’s the time to get it out to the various channels.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Eric. August 18, 19:45

    Hi Mr. Odom!

    Great article you have there.. my name is Eric and I am about to start my CCNA R/S using the Cisco NetAcad Curriculum and looking at how the structure is I might not be able to know enough to take the CCNA R/S.

    Would it be the best option to wait and for the new syllabus or use the current materials I have to self study

    — (I believe knowing stuff under CCNA 200-125 would still be a applicable on the job so why not?) —

    until there are materials on the new syllabus?

    I would really appreciate a response! Bless!

    Reply to this comment
    • certskills Author August 21, 11:18

      Hi Eric,
      I’m not quite following the specific question you’re asking, but I like your enthusiasm! Taking a crack at an answer:
      – Yes, there’s lots of overlap between CCNA 200-125 and CCNA 200-301, so studying for the existing 200-125 is good prep.
      – 200-301 is smaller in terms of volume of topics in my opinion, so for some topics studied for 200-125, you may already know more than you need to know! Which is good.
      – I wouldn’t expect an Acdemy course starting now to get to the end of the 200-125 curriculum before Feb 23, 2020, as many of those last 4 semesters. But if they use the material but in a compressed timeframe, sure there is still time to learn CCNA 200-125 material and pass the exam by Feb 23 2020!
      Hope this helps…

      Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment

Comment; Identify w/ Social Media or Email


Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.