A Detailed Breakdown of the New CCNA Exam

On Monday June 10, 2019 Cisco announced an unprecedented revamp of their certification program. This post dives into one of the major updates, the new CCNA certification. (We’ll have a future blog post with updates on the CCNP changes.)

First, if you’re currently preparing for your CCNA R/S (or any other CCNA for that matter), don’t panic. You have until February 24, 2020 to complete your certification, at which time you’ll be given the new CCNA certification, plus a “badge” indicating your area of specialization (based on which CCNA you earned). So, Cisco recommends you “keep going” if you’re working towards any CCNA certification. 

Even if you’re just thinking about going after a CCNA cert, personally, I would do it now before the February deadline hits.

 However, just having a current CCENT certification won’t help. You’ll need a full CCNA to be granted the new CCNA certification. So, if you do just have your CCENT, you’ll need to pass the ICND2 exam, to be grandfathered into the new CCNA certification.

However, if you do want to challenge yourself with the new composite CCNA exam (or maybe you’re just curious about what’s on it), let’s break it down.

You can download a comprehensive list of topics by clicking HERE.

At a super high level, the topic categories break down like this: 

  • Network Fundamentals: 20 percent
  • Network Access: 20 percent
  • IP Connectivity: 25 percent
  • IP Services: 10 percent
  • Security Fundamentals: 15 percent
  • Automation and Programmability: 10 percent 

Now, let’s delve into each of those categories:

Network Fundamentals: 

Here, you’ll need to know some basics, such as the role of routers and switches in a network, the different types of topologies out there, copper/fiber cabling information, troubleshooting cabling issues, comparing TCP and UDP, IPv4 and IPv6 addressing, verifying IP address parameters in various operating systems, wireless basics, and switch operations. 

Network Access:

In this area, you’ll need to know about VLANs, trunking, and EtherChannel, and wireless networking concepts.

IP Connectivity: 

Then, you’ll review how routing works, focusing on static routes and OSPFv2. (Note the absence of RIP, EIGRP, and GP). Also, you’ll need to know some theory of HSRP, VRRP, and GLBP.

IP Services:

In this category, you’ll explore various IP services such as: NTP, DHCP, SNMP, and QoS.

Security Fundamentals:

This section introduces you to security fundamentals along with a discussion of some specific security mechanisms, including VPNs, Layer 2 security mechanisms, and wireless network security.

Automation and Programmability:

This is the big one! Moving away from the CLI, this category gets into controller-based SDN, Cisco DNA Center, REST APIs, Puppet, Chef, and JSON-encoded data.

I’ll definitely be coming out with training for the new CCNA, but I’ve got to emphasize: you’ve still got 7 months to earn the current CCNA R/S, which is what I would personally do. 

To accelerate your learning, regardless of what you decide to do, pursue a current CCNA track or start studying for the new CCNA, one thing you need is a solid understanding of networking fundamentals. And, since Cisco dramatically changed the state of play this morning, I want to help you master the fundamentals.

Specifically, I’m going to be doing a 3-day LIVE and online training course for FREE called CCNA Foundations, beginning June 25th. Check out the details here: https://kwtrain.com/ccna-foundations

Stay tuned for more information on this morning’s big announcement.

Take good care,



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