Any thoughts or recommendations - CCIE R&S
Good day everyone,
I hope you are doing very well. This is my first post in this forum and I am excited to be here in this journey with many others.
I wanted to ask a few questions and recommendations regarding my preparation for the CCIE R&S and at same time, share my experiences with others.
I am sorry for the very long post, but I could really use some guidance to ensure I am going in the correct path with my studies.
Exactly 1 year ago in March 2018, I passed the written. I considered the exam straightforward, the only caveat I had with the exam was some of the more "new" topics in the evolving technologies and PFR.
I purchased the Ultimate bundle and started to create a Layout for my preparation. This I believe should be a KEY part of any candidate’s preparation. Make sure you plan your days and time accordingly, specifying topics, hours and resources to read. If you don’t, it is very easy to go stray and wander in the ocean of information that you will need to handle.
I started studying seriously in July 2018, mainly because some changes with my employer and such. My study time was around 3-4 hours per day. Monday to Friday. Averaging 16 hours per week. I am using OneNote to create flashcards in organized sections and documents with packet captures and my own interpretations of each topic (Almost a 1 GB worth of notes thus far).
Started with the introductory courses for Layer 2 technologies, WAN, IPV6 and MPLS. (Huge shout to Keith Bogarth, I really enjoyed your teaching style).
After finishing the introductory courses, I started the ATC class. This is by far the most complete, in-depth and challenging course I have taken, Brian is amazing, he breaks down the technology and delivers it in simple language. I finished the course in roughly 6 months using the 3-4 hours per day approach. During this course I also purchased a couple of months of Safari Books to dig deep in topics I wasn’t so experienced like QoS and the more advanced nitty-gritty details of STP/MSTP, BGP, OSPF, etc.
During my ATC course, I used the following approach:
• Watch the video for the technology and take my own notes.
• Perform the corresponding task in the Workbook with no aids or peeks to documentation.
o If I didn’t complete the task correctly, I took notes of the individual topics and my own
doubts to search them, read them and lab them individually later.
o Re-do the task again.
o Rinse-and-repeat the previous two until the individual technology was understood.
Foundation Labs comes next, these labs were fun and I really enjoyed the configuration and troubleshooting of them. Overall, I didn’t had many problems with these 3 labs, except a couple of very specific topics which I understood using the previous approach; more notes, reading and lab them to oblivion.
When I got to troubleshooting topologies, I figured that it was a good idea to take one Tshoot attempt before starting the videos with Dave Smith. I was wrong. The first lab I took was a complete failure, only 2 resolved tickets out of ten (Constrained to 2:30 hours)… This really opened my eyes to the state of my troubleshooting skills. These labs are tailored to expose your weaknesses and test your understanding when multiple technologies are interacting with each other.
Watched Dave Smith course for troubleshooting and it was fantastic. His style and concise explanations are key to acquire a structured troubleshooting approach.
Went again to take the first lab and I didn’t do so bad this time , 7 tickets out of 10 in the same time constraint. I took notes of the tickets I didn’t complete and again, read, lab and repeat. Used the same methodology for the other two labs, which I completed in less attempts.
This leads me to my current situation: Full scale and Mock labs. As of today, I have increased my study times to 5-6 hours per day including Saturdays averaging 30-35 hours per week. I have found that this pace that works very well for me, I don’t get fed up of typing all day yet I believe that 6 hours is a great amount of time for practice and preparation.
What I found interesting about this is that when I began my preparation I had a hard time reaching the 4-hour mark studying per day. Now, 4 hours seem like child’s play, I think this is very similar to working out or swimming. When you start, maybe you can only swim 500 meters in one hour and taking long pauses to catch your breath, but keep going and in few months, you will be swimming 2 km in the same hour without taking any pauses, the same goes with studying.
If you were patient and read the whole post I thank you, and promise you I am almost done.
• I am presenting my first attempt in August 7. Right now, I am completing functional full-scale and configuration sections of the mock labs in 4-4.5 hours. Troubleshooting labs in 1 hour or less. I am doing repetition using this approach:
o Monday – 1 Full Scale lab , If there is any time left, use it to re-do individual ATC sections
o Tuesday – ATC sections and reading my notes, blogs and configuration guides.
o Wednesday – Same as Monday (Different Lab though).
o Thursday – Same as Tuesday.
o Friday – Same as Monday.
o Saturday – Mock lab.
• 2 months prior to my exam I will purchase individual Cisco 360 Assessments labs that contain configuration and troubleshooting sections timed in 9 hours. My goal here is to get used to the interface used in the real thing, prepare myself physically and mentally to be seated 8 hours straight in overdrive mode, and identify any gaps or weaknesses in my knowledge.
• In July, I will go to 8-10 hours per day – Monday-Saturday to reduce my times even further.
What’s your approach or thoughts in the preparation I have taken so far? What would you change?
For the CCIE certified, how did you spend the last months of your preparation? How do you know that you are ready? Any thoughts or recommendations?
Regarding the Infrastructure Services and Security topics such as SNMP, Syslog, logging , AAA, Role Based CLI, Netflow, and NTP, do you have any suggestions or sources where I could study and practice cases similar to the Lab? I am having trouble in these topics mainly because I don’t configure these technologies very often. Even in INE’s mock labs, full scale or ATC Courses the amount of exercises and explanations of these topics is pretty slim . Do you think it is enough to go only with INE’s information about these topics, or the real labs cover them with a wider and much difficult scale?
I am deeply grateful for your input.