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Appendix C.  CCIE Preparation Tips

Appendix C.  CCIE Preparation Tips

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meetsyourneedswhilefittingyourscheduleandresources.

TalktoasmanyCCIEsaspossible;askthemabouttheir

ownpreparationprograms.Findoutwhatworkedandwhat

didn'tworkforthem.Yourprogramshouldtakeyoufrom

yourpresentexperiencelevelrightuptotheCCIElab,with

definitedeadlinesandmilestones.Buildtheprojectfroma

seriesofminiprojects,eachwithawell-definedgoal.Be

realisticwhenyoudesignyourschedule,takinginto

considerationthepredictability(orlackof)ofbothyourjob

andyourpersonallife.Thelevelofsupportyoucanexpect

fromyouremployerandyourfamilyisanimportantfactor

indecidingwhetheryourpreparationscheduleshouldbe

intensiveormorerelaxed.Exceedingthetoleranceofthose

closetoyouwillhurtyourschedulefarmorethanhelpit.

ImplementManyprojectsfailbecausetheimplementation

beginsbeforethedesigniscomplete.Yourpreparation

programshouldbeawrittendocumentclearlydefiningall

stepsoftheprojectfromkickofftocompletion.Afteryou

beginyourpreparationprogram,sticktoit.Don'tgiveup,

don'tbediscouraged,anddon'tbelazy.Checkoffyour

goalsandmilestonesasyoumeetthem.

OptimizeYourpreparationprogramshouldbealiving

document.Asyouprogress,somesubjectswillbemore

difficultthanexpected,andsomesubjectswillbeeasier

thanexpected.Alwaysmoveforwardbutbeflexibleenough

toaddanyextratasksnecessaryforyoutomastereach

topic.

Onlyyoucandesignapreparationprogramthatbestsuitsyou.

Theadviceinthefollowingsectionsisnotmeanttobefollowed

unswervingly,butismeanttogiveyousomeideasforcreating

yourstudyprogram.Thesetipscomefrommypersonal

experienceasbothaCCIEandasaCiscoSystemsInstructor,

andfromtheexperiencesofassociateswhohavesuccessfully



passedtheCCIElab.



LayingtheFoundations

Ifyouareabeginner,oryournetworkingexperienceislimited,

yourfirststepistogetasolidgriponthebasicsofboth

networkingandCiscorouters.Thiseffortwillinvolveboth

classroomtrainingandself-study.IrecommendCisco.com;look

atthewealthofinformationaboutcareercertificationsinthe

"LearningandEvents"section.

ThroughitsAuthorizedLearningPartners,CiscoSystemsoffers

manyhands-ontrainingclasses.Youshouldattendasmanyof

theseclassesasyourtimeandresourcesallow,butofparticular

importancearethefollowing:

InterconnectingCiscoNetworkDevices(ICND)

BuildingScalableCiscoInternetworks(BSCI)

BuildingCiscoRemoteAccessNetworks(BCRAN)

BuildingCiscoMultilayerSwitchedNetworks(BCMSN)

CiscoInternetworkTroubleshooting(CIT)

Takefulladvantageofeveryclassyouattend.Askquestionsof

theinstructoranddiscusstheclasstopicswithyourfellow

students.Mostimportantly,takeadvantageoftheaccessyou

havetothelabequipment.Don'tjustworkthelabs;besure

youfullyunderstandthewhysandhowsofthelabexercises.

Whenyoufinishalab,don'tjuststop.Playwiththeequipment.

Seewhatconfigurationandtroubleshootingoptionsare

availableandtrythem.Ifyouhavetime,trybuildingthelab

configurationseveraltimestogainproficiency.



Theclassroomworkwillhelpyouidentifygapsinyour

networkingknowledge.Readasmuchasyoucantofillinthe

gapsinyourknowledgeofbasicnetworkingprotocolsand

technology.ManygoodtutorialsareavailableontheInternet

frombothcommercialvendorsandprivateindividuals.

Wheneveryoubeginstudyingaparticularsubject,besureto

performaWebsearchforthetopic.



FollowingtheCertificationPath

Whenthefirsteditionofthisbookwaswritten,theCCIEwas

theonlycertificationCiscoSystemsoffered.Now,therearea

numberoflevelsofcertificationandevenanumberof

specialtieswithintheCCIEprogram.Takingadvantageofthese

levelsisencouraged(althoughnoneofthemarerequired

prerequisites),asitgivesyoumilestonesalongyourroadtothe

CCIEandalsoawardsyouwithmeaningfulcertificationsalong

theway.

ThefirstgoaltoworktowardistheCiscoCertifiedNetworking

Associate(CCNA).Thiscertificationprovesthatyouhave

masteredthebasicsofnetworkingandnetworkprotocols,can

installandoperatesmallLAN,WAN,andaccessnetworks,and

understandessentialCiscohardwareandIOSSoftware.

YournextgoalistheCiscoCertifiedNetworkProfessional

(CCNP).Thisadvancedcertificationindicatesamasteryofthe

technologiesnecessaryforrunningandtroubleshootinglarger

enterprisenetworks.WiththeCCNPinhand,youarereadyto

movetotheexpertlevelandproveitwithyourCCIE.



Hands-OnExperience

AlmostallCCIEswilltellyouthathands-onexperienceisan

invaluablepartofpreparingforthelabexam.Neverpassupan

opportunitytoconfigureortroubleshootarouter.Ifyoudonot

workwithroutersandswitchesonyourpresentjob,getfriendly

withthenetworkengineersandtechniciansinyour

organization.Explainyourgoalstothemandoffertoassist

themwheneverpossible.

Ifyouhaveaccesstolabfacilities,takefulladvantageofthem.

Thereisnoreplacementfortheexperienceyoucangainfrom

workinginalab,whereyoucanconfigurewhateveryouwantto

configureandintroducewhateverproblemsyouwantto

introduce,withoutriskofdisruptingaproductionnetwork.

Severalonlinecompaniesprovideremoteaccesstopracticelabs

forafee.Theusagefeescanvarywidely,usuallydependenton

therackofequipmentavailabletoyou.

Anotheroptionistobuildyourownlab.Althoughthisoptionis

expensive,thesalaryyoucancommandasaCCIEmightmake

theinvestmentworthwhile.ManysourcessellusedCisco

equipmentatfairlyreasonableprices.SubscribetotheCisco

newsgroupontheInternet,athttp://comp.dcom.sys.cisco,ora

studygroupsuchasgroupstudy.com;peoplefrequentlypost

usedroutersforsale,andyoucanfindsomegooddeals.Most

ofmyownlabrouters,usedfordevelopingtheexamplesinthis

book,werepurchasedoneBay.Althougheventworoutersare

useful,youshouldtrytoobtainatleastfour,oneofwhich

shouldhavefourormoreserialinterfacessothatyoucan

configureitasaFrameRelayswitch.Rememberthatyoudon't

needtop-of-the-lineequipment;obsoleteroutersareespecially

goodbuysbecausenoonewantstheminaproductionnetwork.







IntensifyingtheStudy

Beyondthebasics,andinparallelwithyouracquisitionof

practicalhands-onexperience,youmustbeginbuildingadeep

understandingofthenetworkingprotocols.Ataminimum,you

shouldreadtheRFCsrecommendedinthisbook.Ideally,read

asmanyrelevantRFCsasyoucan.Thebestsiteis

http://www.ietf.org.

Ofcourse,notallnetworkingprotocolsaredescribedinRFCs.

Lookforadvancedbooks,whitepapers,andtutorialsonthe

non-IPprotocols,thatmightbeincludedontheexam.You

shouldalsostudyEthernetandWANprotocols,suchasT-1,

ISDN,FrameRelay,andATM.Youcanfindawealthofpublicly

availableinformationatCisco.com.Andofcourse,CiscoPress

offersanumberofbooksbesidesthisoneanditscompanion

volumethatarespecificallyfocusedonCCNA,CCNP,andCCIE.

GotoCiscopress.comtofindthebooksappropriateforyour

needs.

Ausefulstudytool,incorporatingboththeoryandpractical

knowledge,istheCisconewsgroupat

http://comp.dcom.sys.cisco.Copyparticularlychallenging

questionsandproblemspostedtothenewsgroupandfindyour

ownanswer.Then,watchfortheanswerspostedfromCCIEs

andCiscoengineersandseewhetheryouareright.Ifnot,

determinewhy.PostquestionstotheCisconewsgroup,too.

Mostregularparticipantsarefriendlyandwillingtosharetheir

expertise.

Severalonlinestudygroupsfocusspecificallyonpreparingfor

theCCNPandCCIEexams.Oneoftheoldestandmostwellknownoftheseisgroupstudy.com.Joiningsuchagroupisan

excellentwayoflocatingresources,sharingexperiences,joining

discussions,andgettinganswerstothornyquestions.Ihighly

recommendjoininganonlinestudygroup.



Finally,ifyouhaveassociateswiththesamegoals,formyour

ownstudygroup.IknowofCCIEstudygroupswithinseveral

companiesthathavebeenveryeffectiveandhaveproduced

manyCCIEs.



TheFinalSixMonths

Withanow-solidbackgroundcombiningpracticaland

theoreticalknowledge,yourfinalsixmonthsofpreparation

shouldinvolvereadingtheCiscoIOSConfigurationGuidesfrom

covertocover.Asyoureadeachchapterofthisbook,review

theassociatedchapterintheCiscoIOSCommandReferenceto

ensurethatyouarefamiliarwiththefullconfiguration

capabilitiesoftheIOSforthatprotocol.Then,useyourlabto

configuretheprotocolcoveredinthechapterinasmanyways

asyoucan.Play"whatif"games,tryingtomaketheprotocol

workinunusualsituations.Youwillfindthatthebestlearning

experiencesresultnotwhenaconfigurationworksasexpected,

butwhenitdoesn't.

Keepanotebookofyourconfigurationsandyourthoughtson

howtheyworkedordidn'twork.Besuretoexploreandrecord

alltroubleshootingtools,suchasdebugandshowcommands,

relevanttotheprotocol.

YourgoalattheendofeachchapteroftheConfigurationGuide

istobeabletoconfigureatleasttheessentialelementsofthe

protocolfrommemory.WhenyouaretakingtheCCIElab,itis

importanttobeabletoconfigurethe"easystuff"withlittle

thoughtsothatyoucanbethinkingaheadtothedifficult

configurationproblems.Youshouldalsobefamiliarwithhow

theprotocolbehaves,howtheprotocolinteractswithother

protocols,whatconfigurationoptionsexist,andhowto

troubleshoottheprotocol.Whenyoumeetthesegoalsforone

chapter,movetothenext.

Earlyinthisfinalsixmonths,youshouldtakethewritten

portionoftheCCIEexam.Don'tbefooledbythisexamitis

intendedprimarilytoweedoutpeoplewhoarecompletely

unpreparedsothattheyareonlyoutthepriceofthewritten

testinsteadofthemuchhigherpriceofthelabexam.Ifyou



followedagoodstudyprogram,youwillnotfindthewritten

examtobeparticularlydifficult.

SeveralcompaniesofferCCIEpreparationcoursesand"CCIE

bootcamps,"whichgiveyouexperiencedoinglabworkunder

conditionssimilartotheCCIElabexam.Donotmistakethese

classesasasubstitutefordiligentstudyandpractice.Ifyou

choosetoattendoneoftheseclasses,youshouldfirstbefully

preparedtotaketheCCIEexam.Thegreatestbenefityouwill

gainfromthecommercialpreparationlabsisafeelforbeing

"underthegun,"workingdifficultproblemswithintighttime

constraints.



ExamDay

TheCCIElabexamtestsnotonlyyourpracticalandtheoretical

knowledge,butalsoyourabilitytousethatknowledgeunder

pressure.Youareinforanintenseday,sodonotadd

unnecessarilytothatpressure:

BeawarethatmostpeoplefailtheCCIEexamontheirfirst

try.Haveacontingencyplanfortakingtheexamasecond

time.Thisstrategycanhelpyoustaycalmduringyourfirst

tryandmightmakeyourcontingencyplanunnecessary.

Arrangeyourtravelplanssothatyouarriveinplentyof

timethedaybeforetheexam.Arrangetoleavetheday

aftertheexam,notthesameevening.Youdon'twantto

thinkaboutyourtravelscheduleduringtheexam.

Locatethetestfacilitiestheeveningbeforetheexam.You

don'twanttoshowupfortheexamflusteredbecauseyou

gotlost.

Donomorethanalightreviewontheeveningbeforethe

exam.Ifyoutryto"cram,"youwillmakeyourselfnervous

andsleepless.

Eatagooddinner,withnoalcohol,andgetagoodnight's

sleep.

Onthedayoftheexam,eatagoodbreakfast.Itisan

establishedfactthateatingcorrectlywillhelpyouperform

better.

Dresscomfortably.Therearenopointsforappearance.



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