I passed the Cisco CCNP Enterprise Core test (350-401, Encor) yesterday. It closed a long period of studying and preparing. To help other candidates to find study resources I will in this article describe which one I used.
All my existing Cisco certifications expire this year and I had to do something to recertify. According to Cisco’s recertification policy, there are different methods for this and I choosed to try to pass the Encor test.
For me, it seemed to be the cheapest method and it was only one item to do.
The links in this blog are valid at the publish date for this article.
Cisco Official Study Guide (OCG) from Ciscopress.com is a must. There are a lot of options at Ciscopress.com. The 350-401 book is in different versions with different published dates. I used the book by Bradly Edgeworth, Ramiro Garza Rios, Jason Gooley, and David Hucaby. I bought both the library paper book (Encor and Enasi) and the eBook.
Will you pass the test just by reading and understanding that book, I doubt it.
I have read it thoroughly twice and later used it as a reference. And each time I open it I learned something new.
There are several video courses online. I used this ones. None of them are totally complete courses
- David Bombal offers a video course taught by Kevin Wallace. Complete CCNP Encor Master Class
The cost is $19.99.
This course has approximately the same width and depth as the OCG
- Neil Anderson at flackbox.com is in production with an Encor course. It is not on his website yet but is possible to enroll it through this link to encor course at flackbox.
If you use this link the cost is $49.
Here you get access to what Neil has produced til now. The content is a lot deeper than the OCG and has a lot of configuration examples.
If you want to learn Encor well, this is a great resource. If I later will go for the ENARSI test I think this video course will be a good friend.
- Both those video courses can be linked to teachable.com so they are reachable from there.
- There are other video courses online too, like Jeremy’s IT Lab, Boson, Kevin Wallace, Udemy, Cisco Learning Network, and so on
Videos on YouTube playlists
There are a lot of free videos and playlists on YouTube. I used these ones
- KishSquared (Jeff Kish) has an Encor Study group playlist. Link. From this, I learned a lot SD-WAN and SD-Access
- Jeremy’s IT LAB (Jeremy McDowell) Encor playlist. Link. A lot of videos are into topics like SSO, ICMP, ARP, CEF, Traceroute, and so on. Excellent videos to learn the more special features you should now.
- Practical Networking (Ed Harmoush) has an excellent deep dive playlist into OSPF, Practical OSPF. Link
- David Bombal Encor course. I looked especially at the videos regarding Automation, chapter 6 from the exam topic list. Link
One method of study is to do Practice exams. There are a lot of options
- Practice Exam that follows the Cisco Official Study guide
- Practice Exam in the David Bombal offered video course with Kevin Wallace
- Free Practice Exams from learncisco by David Pertwee. Link
Those give you only the correct answers with no explanation.
- Boson Encor Practice Exam. I think this is the best one. Great and difficult questions, and the best part is the thorough explanation of each question. Not only explaining the correct answer but also explaining why the wrong alternative is wrong.
Another great feature of this practice exam is that the configuration setup is the same as the real exam, so when I came to the configuration questions on the real exam it was a known environment.
You need to learn configuration and I used GNS3. I often copied the topology Neil Anderson used and replicated his examples.
Rev Up to Recert
Cisco has a “Learn and earn Continuing Education credits” program. In addition to earning CE points, there is also a lot to learn during these programs
I did a home-based exam and it worked very well. Since I’m a non-native English-speaking person I had 150 min for the exam and I needed all those minutes. The last question was done with 1 min to go.
It was an exam I had to work hard and think thoroughly through a lot of questions.
- Do the system test early, the day before. The system test examines your test client and discovers applications it wants you to close, like Teams and Slack. It is important that you are able to close those applications in Task Manager (Windows).
- Use an external monitor. I used my laptop and the writing/text was often too small for me.
- Use a keyboard you are used to.
- Be prepared for sitting on your chair for 3 hours, including the registration period.
- Read the question well and use elimination to sort out the answers you know are wrong.
My overall experience with CCNP Encor
The exam topic list is big, four pdf pages. There are a lot of topics to cover and a lot to learn. The challenge is how deeply you should learn each topic. I used a lot of hours over 4 months for reading and listening. In some periods I drive a lot alone by car and each time I listened to videos, both from video courses and YouTube.
It was a heavy study and I had to set other interests (WiFi) on pause. And I’m very glad I passed on the first try.
Should you do it?
Absolutely, you will learn a lot. But do CCNA first.
What next for me, maybe ENARSI since the theory from Encor is still fresh in my mind
2 thoughts on “My Journey to Pass the Cisco CCNP Encor test”
Did you have to do any labs for the Encor exam?
Yes, there are lab tasks in the ENCOR exam. Configuration tasks.
Doing the Boson ENCOR Practice exam is good preparation. The same setup as the exam.
One of the challenges is that the Task-list and the Topology are in different windows and not possible to have both open simultaneously