How to Study for the New CCNA Exam with Your Existing CCNA Books
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:
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:
- 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|
Here’s the list for the ICND2 200-105 Cert Guide.
|ICND2 Chapter||Study Priority?||Notes|
|1||0||Duplicate of ICND1 Chapter 11|
|3||1||STP/RSTP becomes a concept topic|
|4||1||Chapter is devoted to troubleshooting|
|9||0||EIGRP is not in the new CCNA blueprint|
|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|
|16||0||Duplicate of ICND1 Chapter 25|
|17||0||Duplicate of ICND1 Chapter 26|
|21||0||Duplicate of ICND1 Chapter 24|
|22||0||No IPv6 routing protocols listed in new CCNA Blueprint|
|25||0||No IPv6 ACLs listed in new CCNA Blueprint|
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 ciscopress.com. 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?