A Deep Dive into CCNP ENCOR Exam Topics: Expert Insights

In the dynamic networking landscape, Cisco certifications are the pinnacle of excellence for professionals looking to showcase their proficiency. Among these certifications, the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Enterprise certification holds a special place, with its focal point being the Implementing and Operating Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies (ENCOR) exam, designated as 350-401. This article extensively explores the CCNP ENCOR exam topics, providing expert insights and illuminating its pivotal role in shaping your career.

Why Pursue CCNP ENCOR Certification?

Recognition in the Industry

Achieving CCNP ENCOR certification is like having a badge of honor in networking. It signifies that you have demonstrated proficiency in the core enterprise networking technologies, which are highly regarded by employers and peers alike.

Career Advancement

The CCNP ENCOR certification can open doors to new career opportunities and promotions. Many companies specifically look for CCNP-certified professionals to handle complex network infrastructures.

Enhanced Knowledge

Preparing for the CCNP ENCOR exam will deepen your understanding of essential networking concepts, protocols, and technologies. This knowledge will empower you to solve real-world networking challenges with confidence.

Stay Updated

Cisco regularly updates its certifications to align with the latest industry trends. Receiving CCNP ENCOR certification ensures you stay up-to-date with the most relevant networking technologies.

Key Details for ENCOR 350-401 Exam

  • Exam: Implementing and Operating Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies
  • Exam Code: 350-401 ENCOR
  • Exam Fee: $400 USD
  • Time Allotted: 120 minutes
  • Question Range: 90-110
  • Passing Threshold: Variable (Approximately 750-850 out of 1000)

A Deep Dive into CCNP ENCOR Exam Topics

You must fully grasp its main components to succeed in the CCNP ENCOR exam. Let’s delve into CCNP ENCOR Exam Topics:

Architecture (15%)

  • Explain the different design principles used in an enterprise network:
    • Explore enterprise network design concepts, including Tier 2, Tier 3, and Fabric Capacity planning.
    • Dive into high availability techniques like redundancy, FHRP (First Hop Redundancy Protocol), and SSO (Stateful Switchover).
  • Analyze design principles of a WLAN deployment:
    • Evaluate WLAN deployment models, encompassing centralized, distributed, controller-less, controller-based, cloud, and remote branch scenarios.
    • Delve into location services’ role and significance within a WLAN design.
  • Differentiate between on-premises and cloud infrastructure deployments:
    • Distinguish between on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure deployment models and their implications.
  • Explain the working principles of the Cisco SD-WAN solution:
    • Explore the intricacies of the Cisco SD-WAN solution, including control and data plane elements.
    • Compare and contrast traditional WAN solutions with the innovative SD-WAN approach.
  • Explain the working principles of the Cisco SD-Access solution:
    • Gain insights into the Cisco SD-Access solution, covering control and data plane elements.
    • Understand how traditional campus networks interoperate with SD-Access.
  • Describe concepts of wired and wireless QoS:
    • Dive into Quality of Service (QoS) concepts for wired and wireless networks.
    • Explore QoS components and policy implementation.
  • Differentiate hardware and software switching mechanisms:
    • Compare hardware and software-based switching mechanisms.
    • Delve into topics like Process and CEF (Cisco Express Forwarding), MAC address table, TCAM (Ternary Content Addressable Memory), FIB (Forwarding Information Base) vs. RIB (Routing Information Base).

Virtualization (10%)

  • Describe device virtualization technologies:
    • Explore device virtualization concepts, including Hypervisor types 1 and 2, virtual machines, and virtual switching.
  • Configure and verify data path virtualization technologies:
    • Get hands-on experience with data path virtualization technologies, such as VRF (Virtual Routing and Forwarding), GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation), and IPsec tunneling.
  • Describe network virtualization concepts:
    • Gain insights into network virtualization concepts like LISP (Locator/ID Separation Protocol) and VXLAN (Virtual Extensible LAN).

Infrastructure (30%)

  • Layer 2:
    • Troubleshoot static and dynamic 802.1q trunking protocols.
    • Resolve issues related to static and dynamic EtherChannels.
    • Configure and validate common Spanning Tree Protocols, including RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol) and MST (Multiple Spanning Tree).
  • Layer 3:
    • Compare routing concepts between EIGRP and OSPF, including load balancing, path selection, path operations, and metrics.
    • Configure and validate simple OSPF environments, encompassing multiple normal areas, summarization, and filtering.
    • Establish and validate eBGP (external Border Gateway Protocol) connections between directly connected neighbors.
  • Wireless:
    • Describe essential Layer 1 concepts such as RF power, RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator), SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio), interference noise, band and channels, and wireless client device capabilities.
    • Gain insights into AP (Access Point) modes and antenna types.
    • Explore access point discovery and join processes, including discovery algorithms and WLC (Wireless LAN Controller) selection.
    • Understand the principles and use cases of Layer 2 and Layer 3 roaming.
    • Troubleshoot WLAN configuration and address wireless client connectivity issues.
  • IP Services:
    • Describe Network Time Protocol (NTP) for time synchronization.
    • Configure and verify NAT/PAT (Network Address Translation/Port Address Translation).
    • Set up first-hop redundancy protocols like HSRP (Hot Standby Router Protocol) and VRRP (Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol).
    • Explore multicast protocols, including PIM (Protocol Independent Multicast) and IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol) versions 2 and 3.

Network Assurance (10%)

  • Diagnose network problems using tools:
    • For efficient troubleshooting, utilize various diagnostic tools such as debugs, conditional debugs, trace route, ping, SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol), and syslog.
  • Configure and verify device monitoring using syslog:
    • Set up device monitoring using syslog to facilitate remote logging and error tracking.
  • Configure and verify NetFlow and Flexible NetFlow:
    • Implement and verify NetFlow and Flexible NetFlow for enhanced network visibility.
  • Configure and verify SPAN/RSPAN/ERSPAN:
    • Set up and validate SPAN (Switched Port Analyzer), RSPAN (Remote SPAN), and ERSPAN (Encapsulated Remote SPAN) for traffic monitoring.
  • Configure and verify IPSLA:
    • Implement and verify IPSLA (Internet Protocol Service Level Agreements) for network performance monitoring.
  • Describe Cisco DNA Center workflows:
    • Gain familiarity with Cisco DNA Center workflows for applying network configuration, monitoring, and management.
  • Configure and verify NETCONF and RESTCONF:
    • Set up and validate NETCONF and RESTCONF for network configuration and management.

Security (20%)

  • Configure and verify device access control:
    • Implement access control measures, including lines and password protection.
    • Set up authentication and authorization using AAA (Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting).
  • Configure and verify infrastructure security features:
    • Establish and verify infrastructure security features such as ACLs (Access Control Lists) and CoPP (Control Plane Policing).
  • Describe REST API security:
    • Explore REST API security concepts and considerations.
  • Configure and verify wireless security features:
    • Configure and verify wireless security features like EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol), WebAuth (Web Authentication), and PSK (Pre-Shared Key).
  • Describe the components of network security design:
    • Explore the key elements of network security design, including threat defense, endpoint security, next-generation firewall, TrustSec, MACsec, and network access control with 802.1X, MAB (MAC Authentication Bypass), and WebAuth.

Automation (15%)

  • Interpret essential Python components and scripts:
    • Gain an understanding of basic Python components and how to interpret Python scripts.
  • Construct valid JSON encoded file:
    • Learn to create valid JSON-encoded files.
  • Describe the high-level principles and benefits of a data modeling language such as YANG:
    • Explore the principles and advantages of data modeling languages like YANG.
  • Describe APIs for Cisco DNA Center and vManage:
    • Understand the role of APIs in Cisco DNA Center and vManage.
  • Interpret REST API response codes and results in payload using Cisco DNA Center and RESTCONF:
    • Interpret REST API response codes and results within the payload using Cisco DNA Center and RESTCONF.
  • Construct EEM applet to automate configuration, troubleshooting, or data collection:
    • Create EEM (Embedded Event Manager) applets for automating configuration, troubleshooting, or data collection tasks.
  • Compare agent vs. agentless orchestration tools:
    • Compare agent-based and agentless orchestration tools such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible, and SaltStack.

This detailed breakdown of the Cisco ENCOR exam will guide your preparation and help you focus on the CCNP ENCOR Exam Topics that matter most for success in the exam.

Mastering the CCNP ENCOR Exam: Your Path to Networking Success

Preparing for the CCNP ENCOR exam is an exciting yet demanding endeavor, but with dedication and a strategic approach, you can conquer this challenge and enhance your networking career significantly. This article provides valuable insights and practical tips to help you prepare effectively for the CCNP ENCOR exam.

Familiarize Yourself with the CCNP ENCOR Exam Topics:

Before diving into your CCNP ENCOR exam preparation, clearly understanding what you’ll be tested on is crucial. Start by thoroughly reviewing the official CCNP ENCOR exam topics and blueprint provided by Cisco. This comprehensive document outlines the specific areas and subtopics you need to study. By familiarizing yourself with these objectives, you’ll establish a solid roadmap for your preparation journey.

Invest in Quality Study Materials:

The foundation of your preparation lies in the study materials you choose. Consider the following resources:

  • Official Cisco Press Books: These resources are specifically designed for Cisco certification exams and comprehensively cover the exam objectives.
  • Online Courses: Enroll in reputable online courses from Cisco Learning Partners or other trusted sources. Platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning often offer relevant courses that can complement your study plan.
  • CCNP ENCOR Practice est: Obtain Cisco ENCOR practice exams and sample questions to gain confidence and familiarity with the exam format. You can find these on Cisco’s official website or through authorized training centers.
  • Lab Equipment or Simulators: Networking is practical, and hands-on experience is invaluable. For practical exercises, use actual Cisco hardware or virtual lab environments like Cisco VIRL (Virtual Internet Routing Lab) or GNS3.

Craft a Comprehensive Study Plan:

Success in the CCNP ENCOR exam requires careful planning. Create a study schedule that fits your daily routine and commitments. Consistency is key, so allocate dedicated study time each day. Break down your study plan into manageable sections, aligning them with the exam objectives. Assign specific topics for each study session, and set milestones and goals to track your progress. Whether completing specific chapters or achieving a target score on practice exams, having clear objectives will keep you motivated and on track.

Hands-On Practice:

Networking is not just about theory; practical experience is essential. Implement the concepts you learn in a lab environment. Configure and troubleshoot networking scenarios using Cisco devices or simulators. This hands-on practice will reinforce your theoretical knowledge and boost your confidence.

Engage in Study Groups:

Networking is a community-driven field, and connecting with others can be incredibly beneficial. Join online forums, social media groups, or local study groups where you can share knowledge, discuss challenging CCNP ENCOR Exam Topics, and participate in group study sessions. Learning from your peers and offering your insights can provide valuable motivation and insights.

Regularly Review and Reinforce:

Make regular reviews part of your study routine to retain and solidify your understanding. Use flashcards, summaries, or note-taking to condense key information for quick reference. Focus on areas where you feel less confident and revisit them until you are comfortable.

Practice with Mock Exams:

Taking practice exams and quizzes is essential. These practice tests simulate the exam environment and help you gauge your readiness. Analyze your performance on practice exams to identify weak areas and dedicate additional study time to those topics.

Stay Informed:

The field of networking is dynamic and constantly evolving. To stay current with industry trends and Cisco updates, follow Cisco’s official website, blogs, and social media channels for announcements and relevant resources. Networking professionals who remain up-to-date are better equipped to tackle the industry’s challenges.

Manage Exam Anxiety:

As the exam date approaches, managing stress and anxiety is crucial. Practice relaxation techniques, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and get enough rest the night before the exam to be mentally alert. A calm and focused mindset can make a significant difference during the test.

Exam Day Preparation:

Review your notes and key concepts in the morning on the exam day to refresh your memory. Arrive at the exam center early to allow time for registration and relaxation. During the exam, stay focused, manage your time wisely, and read questions carefully to ensure you provide accurate answers.

Reflect and Plan for the Future:

Regardless of the exam outcome, take time to reflect on your experience. Identify areas where you can improve and areas where you excelled. If you pass, celebrate your achievement and consider pursuing further Cisco certifications to continue your professional growth. If you don’t pass, don’t be discouraged. Use the experience as a valuable learning opportunity, adjust your study strategy, and continue preparing for the next attempt.


The CCNP ENCOR exam is a challenging yet rewarding certification that can significantly enhance your networking career. By following these tips and maintaining determination, a structured study plan, and hands-on practice, you can increase your chances of success and become a certified Cisco network professional. So, embark on your journey of mastering CCNP ENCOR exam topics, and let your networking career soar to new heights.