How to Pass CCNP Exam: Your Ultimate Guide to Success

A CCNP certification is your gateway to demonstrate advanced knowledge and abilities in computer networking. Certified by a reputed company like Cisco indicates you've received the most effective training possible. 

Passing the CCNP exam makes you a seasoned IT specialist. The importance of security technologies and the need for skilled professionals increase as cyber threats have become more widespread. 

Overview of the CCNP Exam

Passing the CCNP examination provides a certification proving your skills with enterprise networking solutions. This certification also showcases your enterprise, virtualization, assurance, infrastructure, and automation knowledge. 

a. What is the CCNP Exam

The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) is a certification from Cisco. The company is world-famous for manufacturing and selling networking equipment. 

The CCNP is the next step after the CCNA, but you don't need to pass the CCNA to take the CCNP exam. 

b. Prerequisites and Eligibility Criteria

There aren’t any formal prerequisites for CCNP security. However, candidates are encouraged to have three to five years of experience implementing security solutions.

It’s best for professionals with a minimum experience of one year in networking. 

c. Exam Structure and Format

The CCNP exam has a series of multiple-choice questions and performance-based questions that assess your enterprise-level networking skills. The duration of the examination is 90 minutes. 

To obtain the CCNP, candidates must pass core and enterprise concentration exams out of six available CCNP choices. The concentration exams include: 

  1. 1

    Implementing Cisco Enterprise Advanced Routing and Services (ENARSI) Exam

    This exam assesses your expertise in advanced routing technologies such as EIGRP, OSPF, BGP, and MPLS, focusing on their implementation and troubleshooting.

  2. 2

    Implementing Cisco SD-WAN Solutions (ENSDWI) Exam

    This exam evaluates your knowledge of Cisco's SD-WAN solution, covering topics like SD-WAN architecture, controller and edge router deployment, security, multicast, management, and operation. 

  3. 3

    Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (ENSLD) Exam

    This exam tests your proficiency in enterprise network design, encompassing advanced addressing, routing solutions, campus networks, WAN, security, network services, and software-defined access (SDA). 

  4. 4

    Designing Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networks (ENWLSD) Exam 

    This exam assesses your knowledge of wireless network design, including site surveys, wired and wireless infrastructure, mobility, and high WLAN availability. 

  5. 5

    Implementing Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networks (ENWLSI) Exam

    This exam evaluates your skills in wireless network implementation, covering FlexConnect, QoS, multicast, advanced location services, monitoring, and device hardening. 

  6. 6

    Automating and Programming Cisco Enterprise Solutions (ENAUTO) Exam

    This exam tests your competence in implementing enterprise automation solutions, including programming concepts, Python programming, APIs, controllers, and automation tools. 

d. Recent Changes and Updates

Cisco is introducing a new CCNP Enterprise concentration exam: 300-440 ENCC Design and Implementing Cloud Connectivity. 

The testing for the new ENCC 300-40 concentration exam will begin on September 20, 2023, and other CNP concentration exams will be out as soon as next month. 

Mastering the Core Concepts

Grasping the core concepts in the CCNP examination helps enhance your knowledge of enhanced networking processes. The certification covers concepts in the following areas: 

1. In-depth knowledge of Networking Protocols

An in-depth knowledge is a set of established rules that teach you how to format, send, and receive data that a computer network endpoints and communicates. This includes many models, such as the TCP/IP model. 

2. Advanced Routing and Switching Techniques

Routing and switching are at the core of the network. In switching, you must consider technologies like VLANS, Q-in-Q, and Ether channels. You should also be aware of switching techniques in computer networks, such as circuit, packet, and message switching. 

3. Virtual LANs and Subnetting

VLAN is a virtual logical AN. Its purpose is to communicate with other devices on the same LAN. You should know about subnets, too, which are logical partitions of an IP network. 

4. Network Security Fundamentals

The network security fundamentals are a significant concept in the CCNP exam. Some central concepts include integrity, availability, and confidentiality, which you must be aware of. 

Deep Dive into CCNP Topics

The CCNP covers essential topics for networking concepts. Let’s take a look at them. 

  1. 1

    Implementing OSPF and EIGRP

    EIGRP (Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol) and OSPF (Open Shortest Path First) are two major Interior Gateway Protocols (IGP) that you need to be aware of when preparing for the examination. 

    The EIGRP calculates the metric using a combination of parameters, while the OSPF uses a metric to interface bandwidth. 

  2. 2

    BGP Configuration and Optimization

    The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is covered in the exam and is an important division. It focuses on configuration and optimization techniques and is crucial for managing large-scale networking and ensuring effective data exchange between autonomous systems. 

  3. 3

    Quality of Service (QoS) Implementation

    The QoS implementation starts with an enterprise identifying the types of traffic that are crucial for them. This is one of the major topics covered in the CCNP and includes concepts like high volumes of bandwidth, latency, and packet loss. 

  4. 4

    Network Automation and Programmability

    This topic revolves around helping professionals automate and understand tasks that involve managing, configuring, and operating network equipment, connectivity, services, and topologies. 

Preparing for the CCNP Exam

Preparing for the CCNP exam isn’t hard, provided you implement the right strategies and work smartly on the topics. Let’s look at some tips that can help you pass the examination. 

  • Setting Clear Study Goals

    CCNP is a comprehensive knowledge of what you may already know. However, you must have profound knowledge of all the concepts, so you must set clear study goals and see what topics to cover.

  • Creating a Study Schedule

    A study schedule will help you properly retain information and not just cram all the content at the end. This way, you can also practice exams. Stick to your study schedule and constantly assess how you’re improving. 

  • Gathering Study Resources

    Study resources from Cisco’s official website can help you prepare well. Gather adequate study resources. Here are some study resources you can choose: 

Best Resources for the CCNP Exam

a. Navigating Cisco's Learning Platform

Cisco | CCNP Preparation Library

This is an excellent self-study preparation book that you can use to study for the CCNP. It covers all the necessary topics you’ll be assessed for on the exam. 

b. Official Cisco Materials

Cisco | CCNP and CCIE Enterprise Core ENCOR 350-401 Official Cert Guide

The official CCNP enterprise book has an organized outline for test preparation. It also features many quizzes on each chapter to help you test your knowledge as you go.

c. Interactive Labs and Activities

CBT Nuggets | CCNP Labs: What is the Best Setup?  

This lab blog helps you gain overall in-depth knowledge of the labs. You gain insights on how to attempt labs. 

d. Best Online Courses

Udemy | CCNP All-in-1 Video Boot Camp With Chris Bryant

This course is an excellent and comprehensive video that encompasses all the vital topics in examining the major concepts. 

e. Helpful Practice Test

Udemy | Cisco CCNP Enterprise ENCOR (350-401) Practice Tests 2023

This contains strategic mock exams designed to test your knowledge according to the CCNP exam. 

f. Recommended Books

Amazon | CCNP and CCIE Enterprise Core ENCOR 350-401 Official Cert Guide

CCNP and CCIE guide is a great book that gives preparation insights, helps you identify weaknesses, and improves your hands-on skills and conceptual knowledge. 

Test-Taking Strategies

When taking the CCNP exam, you must understand key strategies to manage time and effectively answer different question types. 

  • Time Management Tips

    Read the question thoroughly and understand what it's asking. If you don't arrive at your answer, choose the answer that you think fits best, move to the next question. 

  • Answering Different Question Types

    Most Cisco exams contain MCQs in single-answer and multiple-answer, drag-and-drop questions, fill-in-the-blanks, etc. You must fully grasp the CCNP concepts to attempt the different question types. 

  • Using the Cisco Exam Interface

    Cisco has its exam interface that helps you take the CCNP exam online. You cannot return to a question once you attempt it, so ensure to give it your best, even if unsure. 

Review and Revision

Let’s look at how you should review the entire syllabus you’ve covered to ensure maximum retention. 

  • Regular Self-Assessment Quizzes

    Incorporating self-assessment quizzes into your CCNP preparation helps gauge your knowledge, ensuring readiness for the challenging exams by identifying areas needing improvement.

  • Tracking Progress and Areas for Improvement

    Monitoring your CCNP study progress through practice exams and quizzes aids in identifying weak points and guiding focused study efforts toward certification goals.

  • Modifying Study Plan Based on Performance

    Tailoring your CCNP study plan to address performance data helps optimize your preparation, ensuring you're well-prepared for the diverse topics covered in the certification.

  • Last-Minute Tips and Pointers

    In the final stages of CCNP exam readiness, focus on key concepts, manage stress, and follow proven test-taking strategies to maximize your chances of earning this prestigious certification.

The Exam Day

a. Pre-Exam Routine

  • The night before the exam, avoid studying anything. You’ve prepared well enough.

  • Focus on a good night’s sleep, and don’t worry about the exam.

  • Eat light meals to help you process information better. 

b. Dos and Don'ts for the Exam Day


  • Arrive on time at the test center and bring in everything you need 

  • Carefully read all instructions before attempting the questions 

  • Read each question thoroughly and answer to the best of your ability since you cannot travel back to a question once it is answered 


  • Don’t rush through the questions, but don’t spend a lot of time on a question you may not understand 

  • Don’t let nerves get the better of you, practice relaxation techniques if you get anxious 

  • Don’t panic if you encounter a question you don't the answer off, answer to the best of your knowledge 

Post-Exam Actions

Reviewing the Exam Experience:

After the CCNP exam, take a moment to relax and unwind. Review the test experience, noting challenging areas. Ensure you've submitted any required feedback on the exam's content.

What's Next: Certification Results and Beyond (CCNP):

Await your exam results, typically available shortly after. If you pass, celebrate your achievement. If not, evaluate areas for improvement and consider retaking the exam to work towards earning your CCNP certification. Beyond certification, apply your advanced networking knowledge to excel in your career or pursue further Cisco certifications.


If you’re looking to boost your career, then the CCNP examination from Cisco helps you head in the right direction to enhance your career in networking. 

It helps you lay the foundation for many professional paths, such as network engineer, network specialist, and more. 


How hard is the CCNP exam?

The difficulty of the CCNP exam varies depending on your experience and preparation; it's considered challenging and requires in-depth networking knowledge.

Can I take the CCNP exam online?

Yes, Cisco offers online proctoring options for the CCNP exams, allowing you to take them remotely.

How much time should I dedicate to daily preparation?

Dedicate at least 2-3 hours daily for focused study and practice to prepare effectively for CCNP exams.

Are official study materials sufficient, or should I use additional resources?

Official materials are comprehensive, but supplementing them with additional resources like practice exams and books can enhance your preparation.

What score do I need to pass the CCNP exam?

Passing score is 825 or above on a scale of 300 to 1000 points. 

How soon can I retake the exam if I don't pass?

You can retake the exam after a 5-day waiting period, with no limit on the total number of attempts.

Will CCNP certification help in my career advancement?

Yes, CCNP certification can significantly boost your career by validating your advanced networking skills, making you an attractive candidate for networking roles.

How does the new exam format differ from the old one?

The new CCNP exam format focuses more on specific technology tracks, allowing you to choose areas of specialization within the CCNP certification. The old format was more broad-based.

About the author


Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of

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