Difficulty of CCNP vs. CCNA

JohnnyBigglesJohnnyBiggles Member Posts: 273
I'm currently working on my CCNA cert. I know, now, that the CCNA covers a ridiculous amount of information, eh hemm.. a broad range of topics for one certification. It requires a great deal of time and practice to have a solid understanding of it and even when you think you've got it, you don't... and that's proven by a difficult exam or some question or issue somewhere that stops you and makes you resort back to a book or video.

The CCNA gives you the option, however, to split the material. Although you can split it in two, each exam goes deeper into each subject matter it covers and each exam is just as long as the full exam, which makes the decision to do the 2-test option or the one-test option something else difficult to take into account when dealing with Cisco material. It's not really a relaxing choice, it's only slightly better to have the option IMHO. Both methods are really difficult.

That being said, and considering the CCNP is divided into 3 sections, per section, how are those courses/exams compared to the CCNA course(s)/exam(s)?

Is each portion of the CCNP more bearable than the CCNA as a whole? In other words (or graphics):

How I feel the CCNA is:
Composite |===========================|
ICND1 |================|
ICND2 |================|

How I feel the CCNP might be (or hope it would be):
Routing |==================|
Switching |==================|
TSHOOT |==================|
(*If you combined the bars, technically, the CCNP is longer and covers more than the CCNA composite)

Am I right? Or, Is EACH course/exam like [or as difficult as] taking a full CCNA course exam?? I guess I'm looking for degree of difficulty here.

Any recent CCNPs or soon-to-be CCNPs have an opinion on this?


  • CoolhandlukeCoolhandluke Member Posts: 118
    Hi Johnny,

    I can only speak for the CCNP Switch exam as that is my current topic of study. I find the content of a similar level of difficulty to the CCNA material (I took the 2 exam route, and would again given the risk of blowing it all in one go). I found the most difficult part of the CCNA the broad range of topics, once I got into the mindset of routing, switching concepts seemed foreign (and I work with switches every day!).

    Some people consider the CCNP Switch the more difficult exam as alot of the exam material has been poorly written but that seems to be improving.

    Hope some of this helps
  • shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    Passed CCNA 2nd try

    I took the old routing exam 3 times before I passed.
    Currently Reading

    CUCM SRND 9x/10, UCCX SRND 10x, QOS SRND, SIP Trunking Guide, anything contact center related
  • NOC-NinjaNOC-Ninja Member Posts: 1,403
    CCNA is a tough test because you are learning about the ocean with 5 inches deep. Also, you are learning the cisco way.

    CCNP - you have learned the cisco way through CCNA. ccnp is pretty much a ocean but 1000 feet deep. This is an in depth information about switches, routers, and troubleshooting.

    ROUTE - tough test if you dont deal with routers at work
    SWITCH - tough test if you dont deal with switches at work
    TSHOOT - tough test if you dont deal with switches, routers, design, and troubleshooting at work
  • Panzer919Panzer919 Member Posts: 462
    CCNA creates a small yet stable foundation for networking, CCNP takes that foundation and builds a small office building on top of it. CCIE creates a skyscraper. BUT if you get your foundations set correctly in the beginning, you will have a lot less problems expanding on your knowledge base.

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  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,161 Mod
    Think of it more like this:

    CCNA Composite Exam
    • Routing |====|
    • Switching |====|
    • Troublethooting |====|
    • Networking Theory |=======|
    • Other topics |====|
    (The ICND1 and ICND2 tests spread the information in these topics out and make them less daunting, like front-loading the networking theory primarily into ICND1.)

    CCNP Exams
    • ROUTE |================================|
    • SWITCH |================================|
    • TSHOOT |================================|
    It's difficult to think of the CCNP as one whole block, as you would with the CCNA, since the tests are specific to individual subjects. There are some other, related topics strewn in here and there - like wireless, security, etc. - but that's the basic breakdown. Each exam is focused, but incredibly detailed.

    As NOC-Ninja and Panzer919 mentioned, the CCNA covers a broad spectrum of topics and introduces the candidate to brand new information, (like TCP/IP theory, subnetting, etc.,) which is what makes it so difficult when you're at that stage of learning. The CCNP, and other professional-level Cisco certs, are difficult because you're taking several exams that cover more on each topic, in sheer volume and complexity, than all the CCNA material put together.

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  • JohnnyBigglesJohnnyBiggles Member Posts: 273
    This is good info. Keep the responses coming.
  • mikej412mikej412 Member Posts: 10,086 ■■■■■■■■■■
    The CCNP is probably 3x harder than the CCNA.

    But you are at least 2x smarter after having earned the CCNA. :D

    Step it up a notch for the CCNP and you'll be fine.
    :mike: Cisco Certifications -- Collect the Entire Set!
  • BroadcastStormBroadcastStorm Member Posts: 496
    The new CCNP switching exam to say the least is brutal, I can't even imagine how CCIE would be trying to cram so much information.

    Repetition and real world experience is the silver lining dealing with massive information in CCNP.
  • JohnnyBigglesJohnnyBiggles Member Posts: 273
    NOC-Ninja wrote: »
    CCNA is a tough test because you are learning about the ocean with 5 inches deep. Also, you are learning the cisco way.

    This is a great analogy! Just passed the ICND2 today and this makes sense!
  • techie2012techie2012 Member Posts: 150
    Do you have to pass all three exams to get your CCNP?
    (CCNP: Switch) Passed!
    (CCNP: Route) Goal: 11/15/12 Progress: 75%
    (CCNP: TShoot) Goal: 12/15/12 Progress: ​50%
    (Perl Scripting) Ongoing :study:
  • KelkinKelkin Member Posts: 261 ■■■□□□□□□□
    techie2012 wrote: »
    Do you have to pass all three exams to get your CCNP?

    Yes.. You have to pass all three..

    CCNP Certification - Cisco Systems
  • sieffsieff Member Posts: 276
    In my opinion the CCNA has a higher level of difficulty. There's such a broad range of topics to cover. I passed the one exam option (640-802) and I felt a huge sense of a accomplishment when I finally passed it. I equate the CCNA to being the first major hurdle to jump over. Once you pass it all the other exams, whether they be Partner specializations or CCXP certs, give a more defined path to focus on. The CCNP exams are more in depth, but your focus is only on one aspect. GNS3 and dynamips are excellent resources for really drilling into the CCNP, in addition to the Cisco Press books.

    Sidenote ... I used Sybex to study for the CCNA.
    "The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night." from the poem: The Ladder of St. Augustine, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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