CCNA/CCNP/CCIE – how long should you learn for the exam?


I often come across questions like: „how much should I learn every day to prepare for the exam”, or, „is one year enough to prepare for exam X”. The thing is, this really depends on how much learning you can do every day without a serious burnout. I’ve passed about 15 exams so far and here are some of my thoughts about the process:

  • cisco press book are utterly boring. Do not attempt to read more than one chapter a day. In fact, if you do read one chapter a day, you’re a champ. Make sure you have a big cup of coffee handy.
  • videos (CBT, INE etc.) are good if you can focus and only if you make notes. What I’m doing at the moment is I watch the video once without making notes to make sure I focus 100% on comprehension, and then I rewatch the video to make notes.
  • the key to really remembering the topic is labbing, labbing and more labbing. The more commands you type in, the better. Always configure and verify. Try to analyze debugs but don’t spend hours and hours analyzing every line. It’s important to know what you can see if something goes wrong.
  • Do yourself a big favour and once you’ve mastered the core, then even if you’re not 100% sure if you can pass, just take the exam. If you do well in the labs but fail because of theory, the chances are you will get some of the questions you had last time. So make sure you memorize the questions you’re not sure about in the exam. If you fail, leave the building and jot some of them down. Then spend a week or two researching every topic you feel weak in. Then take the exam again, just don’t wait too long because cisco likes to add a few questions every now and again. Set yourself a timeline for your exams to make sure you don’t postpone things too many times. That said, do book the exam early – you can always postpone if you’re late with preparations.
  • Again, there’s no shame in failing. I’ve failed a few exams myself but the point is to be able to channel your anger such that you spend more time learning rather than sulking. Yes, some questions are ridiculously inane, some labs have bugs etc. Remember that CCNAs and CCNPs are just milestones on the way to a bigger goal.
  • Try to enjoy the learning experience. If you find that exams start to frustrate you, don’t take CCNA or CCNP. Spend a year or two learning and approach CCIE directly.



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