CCNA Updates August – October Timeframe… Each Year?
Cisco just released web pages and has begun discussing a new initiative called Cisco Certification Roadmaps. The short version: Cisco tells us the timing of potential updates to their exams. Yep. It’s a whole new approach, and Cisco is being quite transparent about it. Let’s take a look.
A Brief Look Backwards
In the past, Cisco would plan changes entire certification path’s exams as one large project, on average every 3-4 years. The public could only guess when Cisco was doing that work and for which technology tracks. Then Cisco would get mostly ready to release new exams and related learning products, and one day, they’d release web pages announcing an updated certification track.
Thankfully, Cisco gave plenty of time for those transitions between the announcement day and the last day you could take the old exam so that anyone working towards one exam had a chance to complete the exam. Additionally, for certifications comprised of multiple exams, Cisco gave a well-defined path in which you could pass some old and new exams to achieve a certification.
So, it worked reasonably well in the context of a large private development project, followed by announcement, release, and migration. However, it was a source of stress for many candidates, wondering when their exam would be replaced. With the traditional rules over these first 24 years of the Cisco career certifications (CCNA and CCNP), people would know the typical timeframe was 3-4 years, and the number of online posts and reader queries would shoot up starting at the three-year mark. Everyone wanted to know when the exam would change, whatever the exam.
A Whole New Transparent Rapid Exam Refresh Process
This is so cool! In short, the old is gone, the new is here. The big points:
- Cisco tells us by fiscal quarter which technology areas for which they will release new exam topics.
- Cisco tells us by fiscal quarter when they will release new exams that cover the content in the new exam topics.
- Cisco plans to consider changes to the entire portfolio by technology area annually.
- Each exam may have minor (<20%) or major (>20%) changes in a given year, or even zero changes, but Cisco will reveal that with exam topic release
Other than that summary, it’s best to let you read directly. Two links to start, but I’ll likely add more later as Cisco publishes more. I’m hopeful they will do a webinar or two.
- Post by Matt Saunders at the Cisco Learning Network, where you can ask questions
- The Cisco Certification Roadmap web page (cisco.com/go/certroadmap)
CCNA! CCNA? What about CCNA?
Yeah, I know most of you here at this site care most about CCNA. So what are the details for CCNA?
First, it’s an announcement. The announcement implies a ton of work by Cisco, and it’s a new rapid development process. So, we should give them a little slack if they miss a date or two. But if they make the timelines they’re suggesting, here’s what happens for CCNA.
- Overview: They review during fiscal 3rd quarter, publish new exam topics fiscal 4th quarter, and release the new exam in fiscal 1st quarter (the next quarter)
- Every year, during Cisco’s 3rd fiscal quarter (Feb/Mar/Apr), they evaluate CCNA.
- Every year, during Cisco’s 4th fiscal quarter (May/Jun/Jul), they announce new CCNA exam topics, whether the changes are minor, major, or even that they are not changing the exam topics that year.
- If the CCNA exam is changing:
- If there is a minor change, the exam releases during Cisco’s 1st fiscal quarter (Aug/Sep/Oct), basically +3 months after publishing the new exam topics.
- If there is a major change, the exam releases during Cisco’s 2nd fiscal quarter (Nov/Dec/Jan), basically +6 months after publishing the new exam topics.
Sitting here in December 2022, when I wrote this post, you could start studying for CCNA 200-301 and finish before the exam revises. Here in December 2022, we’re in Cisco’s 2nd fiscal quarter (2QFY23, Nov/Dec/Jan), and we’re two quarters away from Cisco publishing their plans for the next CCNA revision. You have time to start and finish CCNA 200-301 if you’re reading this post soon after I published it. And the earliest Cisco would replace the 200-301 exam is 1QFY24, somewhere in the Aug/Sep/Oct 2023 timeframe.
In short, for anyone currently studying for CCNA when Cisco announced these changes here in Decelber 2022, you should not need to adjust your plan at all.
However, there’s a lot to think about here, and the questions and wondering will change with Cisco’s first year of this new rapid transparent model. I’m sure I will publish more articles about it – still figuring out what – but I wanted to get the news out quickly. Stay tuned!!