Subnetting Study Stages and Stage 1 (Learning)

 In 200-301 V1 CCC No Category on Purpose, CCENT-OLD, Study Tips

Want amazing results with subnetting on your #CCNA exam? What helps you achieve those results? To get the best results for the time invested, adjust how you study based on your current knowledge and skills – and that target moves quickly during your study progress. Today’s post reviews the big ideas and gets into some depth on the first study stage: the learning stage. I’ve written the posts on stage 2 (perfecting) and stage 3 (accelerating) and will post each of those in the next few days. Enjoy!

Before getting to the advice, let me briefly review the three learning stages, and the six subnetting topics I use in the IPv4 Subnetting course.


Review: Three Stages of Learning Subnetting

A natural sequence occurs when learning any math-related topic. By the end of the process, that particular bit of math becomes second nature – in fact, the math becomes so evident that you might even have a difficult time explaining the steps to someone else because it has become so natural for you. But what happens between the time when you first learn that bit of math until you master the process?

I see three stages of what happens when anyone learns subnetting, as shown here in Figure 1. Stage 4 is the finish line: you’ve mastered the topic. (For more detail, check out the previous post!)

Figure 1: Subnetting Learning Stages


Review: How Wendell Breaks CCNA Subnetting Into Six Topics

“Subnetting” includes a variety of individual topics, and people progress through learning stages 1, 2, 3, and 4 for each subnetting branch. My IPv4 Subnetting course on Safari breaks subnetting math into six main branches, as shown in Figure 2. You may have reached stage 4 for one part of subnetting, but still be at stage 1 for another.


Figure 2: Subnetting Learning Stages


Coaching to Help You Study with Stages in Mind

Now to the coaching part of the post. How can you learn subnetting better, more efficiently, and gain more confidence? How can awareness of these learning stages help? First, consider these two ideas together:

  • Your study activities should change based on your current learning stage (for a given subnetting branch).
  • Your learning stage can change quickly – from a few minutes to a few dozen minutes.

Figure 3: Primary Study Focus for Each Stage


Stage 1: Learning – Self-Evaluation

First, make a new habit to evaluate your current learning stage each time you practice subnetting. If you self-evaluate and decide you are in stage 1 – the learning stage – that means:

  • You are still learning or memorizing the related processes
  • Stated differently: If you cleared your desk of all notes, you could not find the answers and analyze that branch of subnetting.


Stage 1: Learning – Study Advice

What to do? When studying at stage 1 (Learning), you should be following this kind of an approach:

  1. Make a glossary of terms, especially of synonyms. Focus on their practical meaning, not a dictionary meaning.
  2. Study the concepts before practicing the math.
  3. Then transition to do practice problems on related math (e.g., convert mask to prefix notation mask /22.)
  4. When doing practice problems:
    1. After each and every practice problem, check your answer.
    2. If you get it wrong, stop and figure out why before doing more problems.
    3. Goal: Correct your thinking immediately.
  5. Once your understanding is complete, work on any related memorization, e.g., powers of 2).

All these steps lead you to a goal of complete understanding of the ideas and math, with progress towards memorizing all the details. Some of the memorizing will happen as a side effect, and some you may need to do as an end to itself.


Are You at Stage 1 (Learning) for Any of These?

I will ask you about your learning stage in each of the next few posts. To get the process started, are there any of the six subnetting branches that I use in my subnetting course (listed in the table below) for which you would consider yourself to be at stage 1? Post here or tweet me (@WendellOdom) with #IPSubnetting.

Subnetting Processes Described Shortname Stage 1?
Classful Networks: Find Key Facts Network Facts
Converting Subnet Mask Formats Convert Masks
From Address/Mask, Find Subnet ID, Broadcast Address, and Address Range Subnet Facts
Interpret Design Based on Mask to Predict # Subnets, # Hosts/Subnet Interpret Mask
Based on Design Criteria, Choose 1 Mask Choose Mask
For Network w/ 1 Mask, Find All Subnet IDs Find Subnets


Subnetting Study Stages
Subnetting Learning Stage 2: Perfecting
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

If you wanted more money why didn’t you just say that vs saying come here for help?

Wendell Odom

You appear to want help with subnetting. If you look at the menu items at the top of the page, you’ll find the Questions option. There are several categories of IP subnetting questions you can practice there, for free. Probably 70-80 practice questions there.
This post does mention an online course for a couple of reasons which I won’t bother listed here. But in regards to your complaint, this page does mention a paid course. This site is totally free, and has some references to paid services and products. But it has a large number of posts that CCNA candidates appear to find useful.
If you would like to use the site, be aware that some posts will mention paid content, none of which is required to use this site.


Hello Wendell,
The glossary of your book defines subnetting as “The process of subdividing a Class A, B, or C network into smaller groups called subnets.” Doesn’t this definition leave out IPv6 subnetting? IPv6 doesn’t have any A, B, or C network classes.
Thank you.

Wendell Odom

Yes, it does leave it out, but “IP subnetting” is intended for IPv4 only. Somewhere in the book I point out that convention, I believe. I thought it better to keep that convention, similar to Cisco’s convention in their documentation.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x