Sorry for this long-winded message. I just wanted to share my
experience in hopes that it helps others attain their CCIE goal.
On Monday, January 14th in San Jose I passed the CCIE lab on my second
attempt. I was very surprised at how quickly I found out. 3 hours
after we were booted out of the lab I got the email telling me to check
the website for my results. After a few nervous clicks, I saw the great
I want to thank all who contribute to this list as it is a great
resource for learning. I joined this list in July, 2007 and I think I
have only had to post 2 questions as all my other questions were
answered by reading the archives. This is a fantastic group.
I want to thank the proctors in San Jose. They were very helpful.
I also need to thank my family and especially my wife. I have 3 kids
who are very busy with sports and my wife took over my parenting duties
to allow me to study. I am truly lucky to have such a great wife. I
can now go back to being a father, husband, friend and coach as I used
to coach my kids hockey and baseball teams before I started studying for
Final thanks go to IPEXPERT and INTERNETWORK EXPERT as it was their
products I purchased to help me study.
I also have to apologize as I will most likely be decreasing the average
salary for a CCIE. I live in a place that doesn't have a very large
population and not many large networks (I think I work on the 2nd
largest network in my area already) so the only way to get a higher
paying job is to move. There is no way my family wants to move. I do
like my current job so it would be hard to leave. The only other option
is to become a traveling or remote consultant. Let me know if you're
looking for such a person :)
IP Expert WB version 9.0
IE WB version 4.1 Volumes I, II & III
IE Advanced Technologies CoD version 4.5
Cisco UniverCD - many, many hours spent here
Group Study Archives - many, many hours spent here as well
My study strategy for my 2nd attempt was very different than for my
first attempt (June 2007). For my first attempt the only thing I used
to study was IP Expert WB version 9.0. This book got me very close to
passing but I didn't use it the right way. I completed this workbook
from cover to cover and that helped me come up with a very good strategy
for taking the exam itself but I still had holes in my knowledge. I am
in no way bashing IP Expert. I am very happy with their product and I
would recommend it to anyone. My problem was I stuck 100% to the
workbook. I didn't go exploring to change any solutions to see the
affects that different commands have on a working system. I also spent
no time with the UniverCD. I went into my first attempt being very weak
in QoS and Multicast. This was a bad idea. It truly is an expert level
exam and weaknesses will be exposed. I took 6 weeks holidays from work
right before this attempt and worked from morning to night. I think I
burnt myself out and really gave myself no chance to pass.
I started studying in October 2007 again after taking 3 months off to
enjoy summer and so that I could get involved with my family again. I
started by reading the UniverCD and trying different commands to
understand how they work and what they do. I spent many hours in the
QoS and Multicast sections.
ftp://ftpeng.cisco.com/ipmulticast/training/index.html was next. I felt
very comfortable with multicast after reading everything on this
website. I then went through the IE CoD. This was a good refresher for
topics I already knew and felt comfortable with. It was a great tool
for building a good foundation for my weak areas.
I then took another 3 weeks holidays from work for the 3 weeks right
before my 2nd attempt. In these last 3 weeks I only did 8 full day
labs. I did a few from IP Expert and a few from IE. Each 8-hour lab
took me about 16 hours over 2 days. This is because I looked up
everything in the UniverCD so that I knew where to find everything if I
needed it during the exam. The other reason was that I tried every
possible solution to each question. I learned how each option affected
the solution and I also learned the show and debug commands to verify my
solutions. I didn't know many show and debug commands for my first
attempt. As backwards as this sounds, I think taking 16 hours to do an
8-hour lab actually helped with my speed. When I got to the real exam,
I was able to immediately think of a few different options for each
question and then all I had to do was decide on the correct option and
In the last days leading upto my exam I was getting very good at the
core topics. For the remaining IE labs I didn't do the layer 2 and 3
portions. I just read the labs and the solution guides and just
answered the remaining lab questions on routers and switches without any
base configs. Obviously I couldn't test IP reachability with this
method but I didn't need to. I just wanted to be able to read a
question, understand the problem and know what solution to implement. I
found this to be a good strategy for Security, IP and IOS Features.
I quit studying at noon on Friday, January 12th. I installed a new
dishwasher in our kitchen on Friday afternoon and took my youngest son
to a hockey game on Friday night. I flew to San Francisco early
Saturday morning and went shopping for souvenirs. I didn't study all
day. At night I went and watched the San Jose Sharks beat the Toronto
Maple Leafs. Before I went to bed, I check GS. On Sunday I woke up at
7:00am and went on the tour of Alcatraz and then toured around
Fisherman's Wharf for the rest of the day. Sunday night I went to a
movie and then checked GS before I went to bed. I kept myself very busy
on the weekend and did a lot of walking while shopping and site-seeing.
This was to ensure that when I went to bed at 9:00pm on Sunday I was
tired enough to get to sleep. This worked like a charm. I was
exhausted after all the walking and slept like a baby.
I started off by making a 4 column table. The first column was to
indicate the status of the question: blank - not done/skipped, check
mark - done, question mark - solution entered but need to re-verify
later. The second column was the question number. Third column was
point value. Fourth column was for notes.
I read the entire exam once making notes as I read. I then read it
I then started the exam and verified every answer using show and debug
commands as I went along.
I finished everything with about 2.5 hours left. I used that time to
re-do the exam. I'm glad I did because I found a few errors that didn't
affect the solution but also didn't meet the requirements of the
question. I would most certainly have gotten zero for those questions
and may not have passed.
I think I went to the proctors about 4 or 5 times and referenced the
UniverCD about 7 or 8 times.
You must know what your weaknesses are and focus on strengthening those
areas. I spent 2 months studying only QoS and Multicast. I got to the
point where I was hoping for a hard question in these 2 subject areas on
the exam. OK, maybe I wasn't hoping for a hard question but I was
certainly prepared for it.
You must know what you are capable of. For me, studying 16 hours a day
for 6 weeks straight last June was way too grueling. I really cut back
the hours I studied in one day and spread it out using more days but
less study hours in each day. My brain needed time each day to chew on
the new information it just received. I couldn't retain anything during
the 16-hour days.
Don't study the day before or even 2 or 3 days before your exam.
Because of the 2.5 day break I took before the exam, I was fresh and
ready to go. I was more attentive and alert because of the break.
Finally, this is a hard mountain to climb but it can definitely be
climbed. It takes hard work, dedication, intelligence, imagination and
heart, especially if you've already failed. I read a few posts on GS
where people are worried that there are too many CCIE's and that this
certification is becoming de-valued. I say bullsh*t. I don't care if
there are 20,000 or 200,000 CCIE's out there, it still takes the
qualities I just mentioned to become a CCIE. These qualities will never
thanks and good luck to all those that are still climbing,
Subscription information may be found at: