My JNCIE-SP Experience

There were several times along the JNCIE-SP journey that I thought about stopping and starting a blog to try and collect all the information I’d learned in some sort of digital archive. But, I never started one, I kept pushing on, and did finally pass my JNCIE-SP in November 2020. I received #3023.

It was brutal. It was exhausting. It was a pain. And - it was well worth it.

When I was going through the constant studying, I often would look for other candidates’ documented experiences with the JNCIE journey or exam. I would search for blogs that outlined the experience, what to expect, and how to cope with the JNCIE learning process in general. I found many sources,,, and inetzero to name a few. It was so helpful being able to see that other people had went through this same journey, this same obsession with learning the content, and that they had survived and thrived at the end by passing.

Because it helped me so much along the way, I wanted to write a similar blog post as my first blog EVER, letting the world know what helped me during the process, my favorite list of books or other sources, what was unique about my experience, and why yours may be similar or why it might be completely different.

Why was my exam experience unique?

First of all, it was the brand-spanking-new JNCIE-SP JPR-961 exam. The previous exam was the JPR-960, and the new exam was introduced in a 6-hour format compared with the JPR-960 that was 8 hours long. I was also taking the exam completely remote in my home office. This is why the experience was unique. Juniper really stepped up by offering their IE-level exams remotely in the face of COVID-19 and I applaud them for this. Without this huge offering, I would not have been able to get my JNCIE-SP as early as I did.

For me, taking the exam remotely made it feel more comfortable. The proctor was available via video call for questions regarding the exam format, and all the necessary information and instructions were available digitally for the exam. Again, it was a really enjoyable experience taking this bad boy from the comfort of my home office chair and desk. I felt lucky to have the opportunity.

What was the actual exam-taking experience like?

If you expect that the exam would be terribly hard, filled with complex scenarios that you may or may never see in the real-world of networking, then you’re right. And if 6 hours sounds like a lot of time for an exam, you’re definitely wrong. I did have time to check over answers, but I in no way, shape, or form walked through the exam as though it were a breeze. It was by far the hardest exam I’ve taken in my professional career and I have much respect for it and those who pass.

I would recommend knowing the material backwards and forwards as well as you can before attempting the exam. I was so terribly nervous to get my results back. It took about a week to get them back, and when I finally received them I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was staring at the last 8 months of my professional life and all my studies to see the words “PASS” on the results sheet. Hooray!

What did I use to study?

  1. Juniper JNCIE-SP Self-Study Bundle
    • The most valuable source of all, jam-packed with examples, readings, and scenarios specific to the JNCIE-SP blueprint
  2. MPLS in the SDN Era (Book)
    • I can’t say enough about this book, and thank you to Chris @ networkfuntimes for originally mentioning it in one of his blog posts. It was and still is an amazing source of knowledge for IP/MPLS networks.
  3. Day One: Deploying Basic QoS
  4. Juniper Official Examples and TechLibrary
  5. OSPF and IS-IS: Choosing an IGP for Large-scale Networks (Book)
  6. All of the JNCIP-SP recommended trainings from Juniper
  7. Day one: Deploying MPLS

What lab environment did I use?

EVE-NG with both vMX and vSRX routers. This was definitely enough on the right hardware, and I recommend bare metal. I’m running EVE-NG on baremetal now with some decent hardware and it is amazing how quickly things start and perform. It’s well worth having a lab for rehearsing these exam situations.

Disclaimer - Just because these are the materials that I used to study doesn’t mean this is a comprehensive list of what will get you to your “PASS”

Happy studying!

Written on January 10, 2021