A comprehensive ENARSI exam review

Hello, everyone!

I would like to inform you that I’ve passed my ENARSI exam on 25/01/2024. I’ve decided to create this post as a more detailed review of it. For those who are interested, I’ll be talking about what resources I’ve used to study for it, how long I’ve been studying for, what is my recommended study strategy, and how NetworkLessons really helped me in my CCNP journey so far.

Study Resources

I’ve started studying for ENARSI in May 2023, so I’ve been studying for around 7-8 months at this point which is longer than I originally expected it to be. I’ve spent around 710 hours of studying in total.

My initial primary resources were the OCG for ENARSI and Kevin Wallace’s ENARSI course. I got Boson ExSim later which I’ll talk about soon.

OCG for ENARSI - This book covers the entire exam blueprint. It’s a decent resource out there you can get regardless of whether you’re studying for the CCNA or CCNP. However, I don’t think it was as good as the CCNA one. There’s nothing wrong with the material coverage or information presented there but it felt a little boring or dry sometimes and I struggled to understand a lot of explanations there at first. The organization of the content also felt a little bit off. For example, they first explain BGP Path Selection which requires manipulation using route maps and then explain route maps a chapter later :smiley: They also explain the BGP path attribute categories before even saying what path attributes there are.

Kevin Wallace’s ENARSI Course - It’s a good study resource but it’s far from enough if you want to pass the exam. It’s good for a high level overview but that’s about it.

I’ve been using these two resources until I hit BGP. BGP was one hell of a topic, I’ve never seen a topic so hard as BGP and it took me a month to nail it down.

BGP raised a lot of questions and uncertainty and I knew that I had to find something that would explain BGP in simple, crystal-clear terms. And then I found out about NetworkLessons.

Rene explained BGP really well so I got the 7-day free trial license and then eventually switched to the monthly license and considered NetworkLessons as one of my primary resources from then on.

Since I passed the ENARSI exam now, I think that NetworkLessons is one of the best resources out there and those who don’t have it don’t know what they’re missing out on. The explanations are very simple, it’s less formal than the OCGs and the forums are excellent.

Study time and strategy
One thing that every CCNP canditate must realize is that with CCNP, there is no more hand-holding. If you want to become a professional in this industry, you need to be an independent learner and know how to search for information online. Is there something that you don’t understand or are unsure of? It’s your responsibility to google it and find the answer to your question. You also shouldn’t be afraid of learning more than you’re required to.

I’ve spent around 3-6 hours studying every day, depending on what day it was and how much time I had. I always covered the NetworkLessons lessons and then hit the OCG books. I also went into detail and made sure that I understood everything perfectly as that’s key on the exam.

You also better get used to building your own labs. I’ve spent 97% of my time labbing something up as ENARSI is very detailed and practical. If you are studying for ENARSI and you don’t have a lab opened up, I’ll look at you funny.

When you’re studying for these exams, make sure to also build healthy habits and don’t sit behind your desk all day :slight_smile: The exam is important but your health is invaluable.

Practice exams
I’ve used Boson ExSim practice exams for ENARSI. Boson is an excellent resource that should not be overlooked, especially not at the CCNP level.

I ended up passing the first Boson test, failed the second one, and passed the third one. Although I found the real exam to be harder than Boson, Boson is still one of the best resources regardless of what exam you’re studying for. It helped me solidify certain topics and identify my weak points.

“Do I really have to know this?”

Please keep this thing in mind. Boson can ask you questions that might seem weird to you, they might ask something that’s completely out of the exam blueprint.

For ex: your exam blueprint could say that you need to be able to describe layer 2 switches and then Boson could ask you about layer 3 switches as well. A similar thing can be said about NetworkLessons. You might see Rene include certain lessons in his ENARSI course that do not comply with the exam blueprint or just seem way out of it.

How to handle such questions/topics? Learn them, no matter what. Boson is an organization, it’s a group of people who have taken these exams and they know what kind of questions can appear there, what you might be tested on, what you need to understand, and so on. If Boson mentions something that seems to be out of the blueprint, do not ignore it. Learn it instead.

It’s completely possible to be asked about something that is not listed on the exam blueprint and it did happen to me, in fact.

Same with NetworkLessons. If Rene believes that something is imporant for the exam and includes it in his course, you should never skip it but learn it instead, even if it seems like it’s just “extra”. There were many times where I’ve covered something extra that Rene decided to include in his lessons and it saved me a lot on the real exam.

The exam topics are general guidelines and it’s completely possible that you’ll be asked about something that you don’t see specifically listed there. Or maybe it is, but it falls under a certain category where you can’t be 100% sure. Cover everything you can. It hurts to know less but it never hurts to know more than required.

The exam itself
The exam consists of 4 categories, as we all know.

Don’t go into this exam thinking that routing is the most important section. It is the largest one but there’s still 3 other sections that you’re gonna be asked about.

Don’t consider one section less important than the other ones, even if it includes easier topics. Cover everything in detail and ensure that you have a perfect understanding of all 4 sections before taking the exam. You’d be suprised how even the easiest sections can bring your exam score down if you don’t understand them well enough.

The exam itself - My Experience

I took this exam online. Taking it from the comfort of your home is beneficial but it also has its cons. Technical difficulties are one of them, which I’ve experienced when taking both the CCNA and CCNP ENARSI exams.

If you take the exam online, you’ll be using their application interface. You must ensure that all of your apps are closed, that your microphone and sound are working, and that your camera is working. There’s more steps to this but this is just a summary.

During the entire exam, you’re watched by a proctor. Online has some stricter rules than if you were to take it at a testing center. For example, you must have a clean desk, stay within your camera’s view and not mumble to yourself or cover your mouth. If you do any of these things, you’ll be first warned by the proctor of course but if it happens on a regular basis, your exam will be terminated.

When I was taking it online, my camera wasn’t being streamed to the proctor in real time, which was the first problem so I was forced to restart the program. Then my camera didn’t stream anything at all, so I had to restart it again and then it worked.

So be aware that technical difficulties can occur when you’re taking the exam online, it’s something that you must be prepared to deal with in case it happens.

If you come from a foreign country, you’ll get an accomodation which will provide you with a 30-minute time bonus, which is excellent since you do need enough time, especially for a CCNP exam. It also keeps you at ease, knowing that you have extra time to spend.

You have 90 minutes to complete the exam. I had 120 minutes due to the time accomodation. I had 50 questions and 3 lab exercises.

Once you start the exam, you need to keep a few things in mind.

  1. Now’s not the time to worry about passing or failing
  2. Now’s now the time to doubt your knowledge. Trust in what you’ve learned and don’t let the questions confuse or make you nervous.
  3. Do not worry about the time too much. Check on it from time to time to ensure that you’re not going way too fast or way too slow, but don’t let it stress you out and cause you to make irrational decisions. I’ve had 55 minutes left at the end of the exam and if I removed the accomodation time, it would be 25 minutes.

Being as honest as possible, I will say that this exam is incredibly hard. Almost every question requires you to analyze something and make logical answers based of what you’ve seen. They want you to be able to observe, identify problems, and fix them if necessary.

They will also test you on everything on the blueprint. Again, don’t consider any of the topics mentioned there as more or less important because they’ll ask about everything :slight_smile:

For those who don’t know or haven’t taken the exam after the lab update yet, there are labs on the exam now. The labs on my exam consisted of some simple tasks that any CCNP candidate who studied hard could do without a problem.

If you want to get more familiar with the labs, watch this video from Cisco
https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/s/certification-exam-tutorials

Among all these hard questions, there’s also a bunch that you’ll be able to answer within seconds, so don’t worry too much!

Either way, don’t underestimate this exam. They want you to understand everything perfectly, in detail.

NetworkLessons
Rene, you’ve created one of the best resources out there in my opinion. NetworkLessons covers the entire exam blueprint with simple to understand explanations and practical examples. Whenever I had a “Why is it like this” question, Rene always answered it. Laz is also doing an excellent job with helping people on the forums, there’s a ton of things that I would have never known if Laz hadn’t explained them to me. Thank you both very much.

I heavily recommend NetworkLessons as your primary resource for ENARSI. I’ve used NetworkLessons, OCG, and Boson ExSim, and I’ve passed the exam.

Thank you!

Hello David, and congratulations!

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences taking the exam. All of the information you share is invaluable for those aspiring to take the exam. We are thrilled that NetworkLessons has been a vital part of your journey. The truth is you asked a lot of questions, and it was a delight to respond because I too learned a lot from my interaction with you.

Passing the ENARSI exam is no simple feat, it is truly a noteworthy accomplishment!!

So what’s next? Looking forward to hearing your plans for your next certification goals, and if possible, to be a part of them!

Once again, congratulations, and thank you for taking the time to write this post and share your experiences.

Laz

Hi David,

First of all, congratulations on your achievement! :tada:

I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience. It’s not only inspiring but also very helpful for others :slight_smile:

ENARSI might have taken quite some time, but those hours are worth it. Many of the topics like OSPF or BGP won’t change often so this knowledge is useful today and many years from now.

What you mention about health rings a bell here. The last 3 months before my CCIE lab, I would only sit at my desk and developed a “CCIE gut” :stuck_out_tongue: I now have a standing desk with a deskbike. Switching between sitting/standing/cycling helps.

The Cisco blueprints can be a bit vague and sometimes they are more like general guidelines. I never liked that but it is what it is. They might mention one sub-topic but to understand it, you need to learn some additional things first that they don’t mention on the blueprint. What I always found unfair is that sometimes they add things to the exams that are not on the blueprint and don’t really connect with some of the other topics.

Thanks again for sharing your experience, David. This is what keeps me and Laz going :slight_smile:

Rene

Thank you both for the congratulations! :slight_smile:

So what’s next? Looking forward to hearing your plans for your next certification goals, and if possible, to be a part of them!

I am one of the few people who decided to do ENARSI first, so ENCOR is my next stop :smiley:. From what I’ve seen, there’s a decent overlap between ENCOR and ENARSI so because of that, I already know around 30% of ENCOR (OSPF, EIGRP, BGP, ACLs, CoPP, MPP, AAA, VRF, GRE/IPSEC, services) and some more.

I’ve seen people saying that despite both exams being hard, ENCOR is the easier one in comparison with ENARSI since although it’s wide, you don’t have to know everything in such a detail and it’s more theory-based than ENARSI.

The only section that worries me about ENCOR are Wireless and QoS. Both are pretty long and there’s a lot of theory to grasp. QoS cannot be properly tested in CML as I cannot produce any sorts of congestion there and Wireless looks very heavy. I was thinking of getting a WLC and some APs to accompany all the heavy theory there is because there’s a lot of things that can be labbed from it and Packet Tracer won’t be enough for all that.

The Cisco blueprints can be a bit vague and sometimes they are more like general guidelines. I never liked that but it is what it is. They might mention one sub-topic but to understand it, you need to learn some additional things first that they don’t mention on the blueprint. What I always found unfair is that sometimes they add things to the exams that are not on the blueprint and don’t really connect with some of the other topics.

I don’t like that either. There were some questions where I was like “Whaaat, no resource of mine mentioned that, neither did the blueprint!” and… yeah. There were some weird questions. Although these questions could be experimental as that’s what Cisco states at the start of each exam.

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