Demystifying Subnetting: A Key Skill For CCNA Candidates

Subnetting is a fundamental skill for any aspiring network engineer, particularly for those aiming to pass the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam. While it may seem daunting at first, mastering subnetting is essential for understanding network addressing and optimising network performance.

In this article, we’ll break down subnetting into manageable concepts, making it accessible for CCNA candidates.

Understanding subnetting

At its core, subnetting involves dividing a larger network into smaller, more manageable subnetworks. This process helps in efficiently utilising IP addresses and managing network traffic. Subnetting allows for better organisation of devices within a network and facilitates more efficient routing of data packets.

To understand subnetting, it’s crucial to grasp the concept of IP addresses and their components. An IP address comprises two parts: the network portion and the host portion. The network portion identifies the specific network to which a device belongs, while the host portion identifies the individual device within that network.

Subnet masks

Subnet masks play a vital role in subnetting by delineating the boundaries between the network and host portions of an IP address. A subnet mask consists of a series of contiguous binary ones followed by a series of contiguous binary zeros. These ones indicate the network portion, while the zeros represent the host portion.

For example, a subnet mask of, in binary, is 11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000. In this mask, the first 24 bits are dedicated to the network portion, leaving 8 bits for host addresses. This allows for a maximum of 256 host addresses within the subnet.

Subnetting techniques

Several methods exist for subnetting, each with its advantages depending on the specific requirements of the network. Common techniques include:

Classful subnetting: In classful subnetting, IP addresses are divided into predefined classes—Class A, Class B, and Class C—with fixed subnet masks. While this method is straightforward, it may lead to inefficient allocation of IP addresses.

Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR): CIDR allows for more flexible subnetting by using variable-length subnet masks (VLSM). This method enables subnetting based on the actual requirements of the network, leading to better address utilisation.

Binary subnetting: Binary subnetting involves converting subnet masks and IP addresses into binary form to perform bitwise operations. While this method may seem complex initially, it provides a deeper understanding of subnetting principles.

Practical Examples

Let’s consider a practical example to illustrate subnetting. Suppose we have the IP address with a subnet mask of This yields a total of 256 host addresses (2^8), ranging from to, with the network address being and the broadcast address being

Now, if we need to divide this network into smaller subnets to accommodate different departments within an organisation, we can apply subnetting. By borrowing additional bits from the host portion of the IP address, we can create multiple subnets with fewer host addresses per subnet, thus optimising address utilisation.


Subnetting is a fundamental skill that CCNA candidates must master to excel in networking. By understanding subnetting principles and techniques, candidates can effectively manage IP addressing and optimise network performance. Additionally, mastering the OSI Model provides a comprehensive understanding of network layers and their interactions, further enhancing one’s networking proficiency.

To further enhance your networking skills and prepare for the CCNA exam, consider enrolling in a comprehensive CCNA course offered by BridgingMinds. Additionally, for those interested in cybersecurity, BridgingMinds also provides courses for the CISA certification, ensuring a well-rounded education in IT and cybersecurity.