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Hi all,

Just a friendly reminder that you should always check the latest exam topics before booking and writing an exam.

It is a pretty common complaint that Cisco expects CCNP (and to a lesser degree non R&S CCNA) candidates to do some research to make sure their study material covers all the topics for the exam. Hell some tracks don't even have OSGs.

You don't want to learn about a topic while writing your exam!


(warning - this is a wall of text)

I finally passed!

I took my CCNA on July 22 2015 so my CCNA would have expired in 2 days

I'm renewed!


First attempt: June 2017

Result: 667/1000

Study materials: OCG, CBT nuggets, and lab manual

In hindsight, I really didn't prepare enough for this one. I didn't take any notes. I watched the CBT nuggets series a couple of times, completed the labs from the official lab manual, read the OCG a couple of times.

Second attempt: July 2017

Result: 779/1000

Study materials: OCG, CBT nuggets, lab manual, INE, and Chris Bryant

I was really frustrated after this attempt. I missed the passing score (790) by a few marks and many questions required knowledge that was not present in the "official" books or in the online courses. I really buckled down for a month and studied at least 30 hours/week, created labs for every topics, and typed 55 pages of notes. Because of this, I was very frustrated and gave up on the networking field. I work as a sysadmin so I don't work with Cisco products every day. I figured I would focus more on sysadmin certifications.

After the failed attempt, I spent the next year studying for my MCSA on and off but I really couldn't get into it. I knew all of the topics and Microsoft exams are MUCH easier than Cisco's, but there was no passion.

Third attempt: July 2018

Result: 974/1000

Study materials: EVERYTHING (no, really)

OCG, CBT nuggets, lab manual, INE, Chris Bryant, Boson practice exams, FLG, 3750 configuration guide, CBT nuggets CCIE videos, and GOOGLE

In June, I was getting real frustrated with how my MCSA studies were going and I realized that my CCNA would expire on July 22nd. On June 14, I made the decision that I would give it one last try and I would really put in 120% of my effort. From that day on, I spent 10 hours studying every non-workday and at least 4 hours every work day (studying on the train and after work). I thought that I gave it my all during the second attempt but I think I found another gear haha!

What I studied

I read the following books cover to cover at least three times:

  • OCG
  • FLG
  • Chris Bryant (physical book)

I watched the CBT nuggets, INE, and Chris Bryant videos at least 4-5 times through I completed the INE bootcamp lab a few times and created my own lab scenarios for the topics that were not covered.

The 3750 configuration guide is really what did it for me. It is HUGE (1300 pages?) but once you parse through it and focus on what you really need to study, it is more like 600 or so pages. The configuration guide really covers how each technology interacts with Stackwise (since it is a 3750 guide after all) and honestly - you can skip that. As long as you know the basics of how StackWise (and VSS) works, you're golden.

I also watched the CCIE videos from CBT nuggets. These videos are quite old (in fact they're being archived in a few months) but I found it was a good balance. CBT nuggets is very approachable and I actually enjoy watching the videos - they're not dry like the INE and Chris Bryant videos. That being said, the CCNP videos from them do NOT dive deep enough to prepare you for the exam. Their CCIE videos (v5 so they're pretty old) actually cover a fair amount of material for the CCNP. The knowledge covered is almost comparable to the INE/Chris Bryant videos - but in an entertaining format. Honestly, if they renamed it and updated a few of the videos - this could really be a great study material. That being said, the courses are being archived in 6 months. Last week it said 80 days - maybe my activity did something to change their minds? Let's go with that ;)

Anyways! My approach with this attempt was to study from the perspective of a CCIE candidate - really dive into the material and study EVERYTHING. You really need to know the nitty-gritty details to pass this exam - I cannot emphasize this enough.

I took three day weekends for the past month and took vacation days for the past week so I really had a chance to focus on studying. I haven't gone out (other than going to work) in the past month so needless to say - I'm celebrating tonight! :)

Alright, so that's what I studied. To summarize:

  • READ THE CONFIGURATION GUIDE. It is free. It isn't an easy read but you could ace this exam if you know it cover to cover.
  • Get as many perspectives as you can (afford) and don't trust what the videos tell you. Try it out, build a lab. Double check what they tell you with the information in the configuration guide. There are mistakes in the online videos - it's inevitable. Having multiple sources will lower your chances of studying the wrong thing!

How I studied

Now: how did I study? The biggest thing that helped me study isn't something that can be taught - it's something you need to have. If you don't have it - you're going to have to try very hard. What I'm talking about is PASSION. When I studied for my MCSA, I didn't care about the topics. I LOATHE Windows. I work with it every day and the concepts are not that difficult to grasp, but I don't WANT to learn it. Every day that I would study - I could barely make it to 10 minutes before becoming (literally) bored to tears. The day that I decided to give networking another go - it was like night and day. I really WANT to know how it works.

Because of that, studying didn't feel like torture. I was genuinely interested and I had to hold myself back from going too deep into the topics!

Apart from that, I tend to have difficulty focusing so I used the Pomodoro technique. This is where you study for 25 minutes and take 5 minute breaks in between each 'session'. After 4 sessions, you take a long break (25 minutes). It seems simple (and it is!) but it made a big difference for me. When you're doing a study session, you need 100% focus. Phone away. Reddit closed. Zero distractions. When you take a break - walk away. No seriously. It's very important to make that distinction. I even used Philips Hue lights in my house to separate study time and break time.

  • Study = bright white lights
  • Break = dim warm white light

It's a small thing but it helped me subconsciously make that distinction and it helped me maintain that focus and stay in the 'study mode'

I also created an excel sheet to track my studying. This really helped me stick to what I needed to study.

For each topic in the exam blueprint, I created a row. The columns were (there's a lot of them): CBT, INE, Chris, OCG, FLG, CG, LAB, Exam, Describe, Configure, Troubleshoot

It is a HUGE sheet. I’ll attach a screenshot for one of the sections at the bottom of this post.

Here's what I did: For the study materials (CBT until Exam (which is completing practice exams)), I would type in the date I last studied it. I set up conditional formatting to fill in cells so that a topic/material combo studied in the past 7 days is in green. Past 2 weeks in yellow. Everything else is red. The idea is that I wanted to have studied EVERY source for EVERY topic within a week of my exam. This also helped me keep track of those topics we skip over often. You don’t need to read everything that close to the exam - in fact doing so might be detrimental. I did the best I could and covered about 90% of the material within 9 days of the exam.

For describe/configure/troubleshoot, I typed in my ability for each topic. Either YES, NO, or MAYBE. I also used conditional highlighting to emphasize this. I would only type in YES if I knew that topic like the back of my hand. Separating it into describe/configure/troubleshoot also helped me realize what knowledge I was lacking. For example, I find SPAN/RSPAN very easily to configure and troubleshoot - there's not much to it and the commands are intuitive (for me). But I had SO much trouble remembering which ports could do what. So the describe column was MAYBE and the others were YES I also used pie charts to assess how ready I was for each section. It’s OK if you don’t fill in YES for everything. But everything should at least be a MAYBE and there should only be a few of them.

Tracking my studies and being honest with myself made a big difference.

That's about it for my study techniques. Make sure you create labs for all of the topics (even the very very small ones - It makes a big difference on exam day when you know the answer with absolute certainty because you’ve SEEN it happen! Lab it up, tear it down, and do it all over again and again until the commands just roll off your fingertips! And take detailed notes! I wrote about 13,000 words in notes. If you can't explain something in your own words, YOU DO NOT KNOW IT! These topics need to be second nature and you should be capable of teaching it to someone if they asked you.

Ok, I think that's it! I know this post is a wall of text and it will take some time to parse through but if you're studying for your SWITCH exam, give it a read and question your study techniques.

This is NOT an easy exam and it shouldn't be! I'm grateful that it took me all of this time and effort to pass it because I really know the material and I'm sure that it will come in handy in the future.

Most importantly - please don't use brain dumps! You will NOT learn the material. It's cheating and when you cheat, you ruin the value of the certification for people like me who take it seriously.

I'm extremely proud of my result and I think it really reflects the effort that I put into it.

Good luck to anyone studying for this exam: you can do it and when you pass - oh how it feels good!



Study outline screenshot:


Failed switch today. Got 720/790. I was just wondering when I retake the exam will I get the exact same test or a different version of the test?


I've used Boson Ex-sim for my CCNA studies and it worked wonders, allowed me to pass on first attempts.
I was wondering if Boson is on par with the CCNP exam? Anyone with Boson experience for the switch exam?



I'm trying to get into the habit of labbing a lot; hopefully everyday. I've done the odd lab posted here, labs from CBTNuggets, and GNS3Vault. Is there another source with a good quantity of practice problems to solve?

1 comment

Just failed the exam! I received a score of 747 and required 790 to pass. I was confident on the labs. 33% on Network Principles.

Currently my title does not include any Networking. I'm trying to come up with a time frame of taking it again. Some people told me a month and some said ASAP. I'm going back to school to get my B.S. in September of this year. Thoughts?


So what do i need to know ?

What should i think about? any Gotchas ?

Thanks, i have done Route and Switch so this will be my last one :D


I just passed CCNA RS on July 2nd and was going to immediately dive into CCNP RS, while the material is fresh on my mind. So far I have made it through CBT Nugget video series on CCNP Route. Very informative and I feel it built well on the knowledge acquired from my CCNA studies. Today was my also my first day as a NOC Analyst (i've done sales the past 10 years), so excited to be able to expand on my knowledge and get started in the IT industry! If anyone has any tips on training materials/labs i'd appreciate it! Thanks!


I have a console server with model avocent 6048 in my company which needs to be connected to Netscalers (MPX8005) for console access. The issue is I am not able to get console access to their servers but I can console to other switches and routers with this ACS.

Troubleshooting I tried:

  • Baud rate changes
  • Verifying any loose connections
  • Bouncing console port

Also the issue is at two locations and I doubt it can be due to bad cables or any Layer 1 for that matter. Any other troubleshooting tips you can suggest for?

Thanks in advance.

Edit: SOLVED. Use a db9 converter to connect your Netscaler console to terminal server.


Is TSHOOT still the easiest?


I've just watched Keith Bogart's video on MST and it's pretty amazing but puzzles me a bit.

Firstly, it's an open standard similar to Cisco's PVST but more efficient. It allows for multiple spanning tree on a single switch by use of instances. Where instance 0 is native and doesn't carry an Mrecord and all manually created instances carry one each.

Secondly, configuring MST, 3 things must match:
revision number
Once configured on neighbour switches, MST will be running as the spanning tree mode.

Thirdly, there are 2 types of port? Boundary and internal? Where boundary is connected to a non MST switch and all instances assume port role of instance 0 and internal is when MST switch connects to MST switch and every instance has its own role?

Are my take away from MST correct? If not, what's wrong? Did I miss anything?

Thanks in advance!


For me personally, it has been nearly 2 years since I have done my CCNA R&S and just over 1 since SEC - Now I got the go ahead from work to do CCNP R&S, so I am ready to get cracking!

My material are going into this:

Chris B's All in 1 CCNP NetSim labs Lots of OCG books and videos from Safaribooksonline on all 3.

Don't have a timeframe this time to pass- but I would like to pass Switch by end of the year - I am quick learner and I love networking.

Anything else those who have passed it can suggest? :)


Failed it last week with a 726, but studied hard and pulled it out. My suggestion for study is to take the exam objectives and place them in a word doc or one note and literally go line by line documenting everything you can about the topic, then go lab and lab again. On to switch! Any advice on study material? I have Chris Bryant's videos and that's about it.. My score breakdown:

Network Principles: 50%

Layer 2 Technologies: 50%

Layer 3 Technologies: 93%

VPN Technologies: 83%

Infrastructure Security: 57%

Infrastructure Services: 69%

Edit: forgot the last one.


Hi all,

I passed my CCNA R&S exam last week and am wanting to move straight into the CCNP. I'm worried that I but all of the study materials and then the exam changes gets updated.

Should I just do it or go for something else e.g. CCDA while waiting?


Holy, this was a hard exam. I actually got half way through the exam thinking so many picky details and very specific questions except the labs. The labs were straight forward and didn't seem to run into any issues, I would like to think I got all the labs 100%.

After half way, I got a bit more confident but felt like I was going to fail because of the first half of the exam.

L2: 62% :(

Inf. Security: 92%

Inf. Services: 67%

I took route around October last year and it was so much easier than this exam. Had a little break and started studying for switch around 4 months ago but actually started taking it more seriously 2 months ago when I was about to book the exam. Booked the exam thinking it would be nice to pass a day before my birthday, while taking a week of work so I'm glad that turned out ok!

I used mainly Udemy, Boson, the 3750 configuration guide and skimmed through the OCG. I didn't actually get through the whole of the OCG but did read a lot of blogs online.

I'm sure this doesn't break NDA but you really need to know some objectives on the exam blueprint inside out like STP, FHRP's, VLANs, AAA etc...

I'm planning on booking tshoot on the 1st week of August and need to review loads of route topics but I'm looking forward to it!


My first attempt I scored a 834, falling 12 points short of a passing score. The next five days were mentally tough just waiting for another crack at the test.

During those five days I used the test experience to research as many things I could remember that I didn’t feel confident in my answers that I provided. I also reflected on some answers to realize I played into a couple of deceiving tricks.

I used the Cisco digital learning site and Boson in that order. If I didn’t experience Boson to get a feel for how the simulations were, this exam would have taken me 3 attempts. Boson prep was great, can’t speak highly enough about that program for the material related to this test.

For others looking to take this test, my biggest suggestion is to stay calm and if you find yourself thinking sporadically, mentally hit the “reset” button and work from the inside of the topology outwards or vica versa.

I found it to be a challenging and extremely fair exam.


Hi guys I need some help on this one.

I am asking this for a friend of mine who is considering a career change and looking into cyber security degrees/paths. He has been told its pretty easy to get in and make good money. However this was advised by a CC Advisor.

His position:

Zero IT/Helpdesk/Technology Experience of Any Kind. (Cannot assemble a computer)

4 Year Degree in Bible

25 Years Old

I am reading up on how to help advise him. I am under the impression that while cyber security is an awesome field, with many incredible paying paths, nearly all of them need a large amount of experience in technology related fields. He is expecting to make 50-60k out of school with a 2 year degree in "cyber security" alone. (Massachusetts)

Please advise and add thoughts. I am hoping to help direct him, either to encourage or shine a light on this potential career change.

He is a good friend, and I want whats best for him. I know literally nothing about this field and its many facets which is why I am coming to the source.

  • Sdknighted

About a year ago I decided to change my career paths to something I had more fun doing and wanted to do since childhood. I wanted to check up when my CCNA expired since it had been so long, well it expires end of July 2018. Even though I had changed paths, I didn't want all that work on getting my CCNA to be in vain, and the last thing I wanted to do was pull out the old stone slabs and refresh my knowledge on Frame-Relay if I ever wanted to do Networking again. So I did what any sane person would do and elected to take the CCNP Switch exam a few weeks before their CCNA expired.

It wouldn't have bothered me if I failed, and I wanted to pass, but I did want to at least try to go for the gusto. Well... it paid off, I took SWITCH and passed... with 798 points. There's nothing like sitting in that chair, reading "CONGRATULATIONS" Then a score that seems suspiciously low.

I pretty much exclusively use my networking knowledge for my home now, but I still love it.

Anyway, I used Chris Bryants CCNP Switch Udemy course, some quick lab work with my 4948, and my prior knowledge on what these tests really like you to know ;) If I had to do it again: P R A C T I C E TESTS.

Good luck to the rest of you, guess I'll have to try my hand at ROUTE next :D


hey guys and gals, i have a question. It's been a month since i've earned my CCNA RS and now it's time to follow through by starting my CCNP journey. The question being, should I watch videos first? or read the OCG then watch the videos? Video source: INE Keith Bogart and Text: OCG


Is it any good/worth while?



From what I understand MPLS and VPN like a site to site VPN gives the same solution. May I ask why would companies still use MPLS? if VPN is a free and secured solution


Finally passed the TSHOOT today on my second try. The first time I failed by 20 points.

I used the Boson ExamSim, that I'm sometimes very critical of, but they got this one absolutely right. I also used

The OCG INE Kevin Wallace videos PluralSight CLN And numerous random internet sites

Total study time was 2 weeks. The first time I studied for only 5 days, just to find out that this no longer the wash give me trivia free TSHOOT of the past. You will want to look at all aspects of the topology and do a deep dive into them. Some of the question were pretty ambiguous. The tickets however, with some practice under your belt and knowledge of the topology are a breeze. Finally got my CCNP. Onto the CCDP, wish me luck.

P.S. There are some tickets with different outputs depending on the commands, you're best best is to see which has the most evidence of causing the problem. I went against my gut feeling and missed one part of a ticket, giving me a 948. Be careful there is little room For error. Also I'm decently new to networking and completed it in around 40 mins if that gives you any ideas of the complexity of the tickets. KISS.


I must be missing the point or something. Why would you move to Multiple Spanning Tree instead of dividing the network at layer 3? As I understand it, the purpose of MST is when you have so many L2 connections, and so many vlans that it becomes necessary to aggregate your instances of STP, and segregate STP domains to prevent unnecessary re-convergence during remote topology changes.

Are there really networks with L2 domains big enough to needs this? Wouldn't an L2 domain large enough to need this already be inefficient?


Hi everyone! :)

Does anyone have a comparison table of SPAN source and destination ports (what can be a source and destination)? I'm surprised that I can't find this online or in Cisco documentation. I can certainly find description of what can be a source/destination, but I'm really looking for a YES/NO matrix of what port can be what (as a quick 'cheat sheet' while studying). I'm using this as a source: But reviewing a wall of text isn't the easiest (for me at least).

In the case that this matrix doesn't exist, I've started one (below). Is there anything that I'm missing?

Thanks in advance and happy studying! :)

Type Source Destination
Physical Interface YES YES
Multiple physical interfaces YES YES (depending on switch model)
Secondary PVLAN YES NO
PVLAN host/promiscuous port YES NO
Member of an Etherchannel YES (only monitors traffic travelling across that interface) YES (port is removed from Etherchannel while a destination port)
Entire Etherchannel YES NO
Port security interface YES NO
Routed interface YES NO
Switched virtual interface (SVI) NO NO


EDIT 2: Added multiple interfaces + SVI + PVLAN + PVLAN host/promiscuous ports


Recently failed ROUTE for the second time and I am struggling to make sense of the marks I achieved. These are my results:

FIRST EXAM (Overall score = 762. Needed 790 to pass)

NP: 50%

L2 Tech: 33%

L3 Tech: 63%

VPN: 67%

Infra Sec: 57%

Infra Serv: 31%

SECOND EXAM (overall score = 736)

NP: 67%

L2 Tech: 33%

L3 Tech: 74%

VPN: 50%

Infra Sec: 71%

Infra Serv: 54%

So on the second exam I increased scores in four of the six sections, score stayed same in one and dropped in one. But my overall score was 26 points less, despite improving in four sections. I am struggling to rationalise how that is possible and wondering if there has been an error in the score calculation.

Can anyone possibly explain how this is possible and if it is worth appealing?



Ahh I'm sad and mad, I got ~730 out of 790, ahhh I should have pushed a bit more on the studies.

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