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# My CCIE Study approach

Cisco CCIE study approach
Different people, different study approaches, this is what I did. I had lots of time during 2013 for approx 88 days with bad reception and no reliable internet access, so I used my time the best I could by reading 14000 Cisco Press pages and summarized them into the flashcards. Therefore my approach may differ from other people's time frames and overall CCIE study approaches, have a look and pick out what best works for you.

# Krzysztof Zaleski CCIE 24081 mind-maps

A very good study aid, use Krzyztof's mindmaps found here:
Krzysztof Zaleski CCIE 24081 "CCIE routing and swithing quick review kit"

# Packet Life's packet captures

I find Packet Life, a great resource and study aid in order to understand protocols: Having read all the books and learned all the packet headers, hex values of headers etc. it helps me put things all together, as I now can read TCPDUMPS like story books.

The story of my CCIE trail

Beginning of 2013 I have dediced to take my professional life up to a next level,
making the jump from the CCNP level to the expert level. End of February I had the chance to visit Cisco Live in London and had booked my CCIE Lab breakout session, to see how the test is like. It gave me a good impression on where I was with my daily job experience and what to focus on in my studies. Due to the fact of us moving from Switzerland to Australia, seeking for work and sponsorship in order to finaly settle down. I got a little interrupted with studies by other efforts such a selling cars and furniture, moving into temporary flats etc. You can imagine that this does not exactly keep up the study time per week... but I could compensate for the lost hours in our mandatory 88 days of regional work on a vine-yard in Margaret River. We had to do this in order to extend our one yearly visa to a two yearly one, giving us approximately 20 month time to find a sponsor.
I am not a fast reader, especially books such as TCP/IP Vol 1 and 2 etc which take quite an effort to work through... but during the 88 farm-work days I had plenty of time reading each of the books mentioned below from cover to cover. I had during our moving period started to do the INE LAB vol 1 but shortly after I begun figured out that I sometimes did not know about all thesmall nibbly little features. Therefore I had lost many hours looking small settings up, spending lots of time reading instead of hacking around on the console.
Now after 88 days of spending several hours a day reading all the Cisco Press CCIE Developement books as well as watching INE Video training as well as some CBT Nuggets training series each evening I do believe that I have grasped the technology. Also have I learned about lots of the nibbly things written in the case studies mentioned within the books. I can highly recommend reading all of them. In my case I could profit of the fact that I had to do 88 mandatory days, having study time I usually during my normal work life never have had in such vast amounts. I had read the books in an order that I kept alterating technologies, meaning one week I would read the QoS book, the following week MPLS, and in a couple of weeks I would read QoS End-to-End etc... this in order to boost the memory effect. After 88 days... I feel like my head is exploding... But I have to say, its really fun, and it gets better and better as one starts to see the big picture, but in a very detailed way. Also one learns, what one still has to learn. It is a lot to keep in memory, therefore, if your trying to become a CCIE too, then I can only recommend being extremely honest with yourselfs in regards of your expertise on each topic. Take the blueprint and only tick a topic of the list if you are really really sure you know all of it, and know the commands used in the technology by hart.
Yes, I have to admit, I am usually learning by doing, meaning I would try hacking myself through the lab volumes, but this time I have lost that battle and had to agree to learn all the involved technology and little nibbly things first on paper. Trying it an academic approach, reading all of it first and then getting the hands dirty. If I today look through the INE labs, I feel more comfortable, as I remember how things should work in theory, and plus I know where to look it up as all of my books look like they had a battle in terms of highlighted text and personal notes...
CCIE RS Version 4 or 5, what is it going to be? I am unsure... will see, I am trying hard to still be going for Version 4, but we will see how things go in the next couple of month with job applications etc.. Yep, dear potential sponsor, hope to have your attention now.. I have read the rumors about a diagnose part of the lab and am not quite sure how to interpret that. What a pain, I have just spend hours reading 410 pages of Frame-Relay Solutions guide to find out, that it will most likely be gone on the Version 5 LAB... No, actually I am happy that I have read it as I keep bumping into frame-relay here and there once in a while in reality.

2014.03.17, a couple of days later...
Unfortunately its definitely going to be Version 5 now.
In December 2013 I have visited Narbik Kocharians 5 day CCIE RS bootcamp, even it was a bit early in my studies and I was not yet ready for it as I wanted to be. I was unsure about version 5 rumors etc and decided to go. Anyways, I have been to many Cisco trainings as you may noticed under my work section, but I can assure you I have never been to a training of such quantity and quality delivered. Narbiks training is just insane. If you book his lab, plan for long long hours, and a hotel closeby. Narbik knows everything by hart, he never has to look things up, never, not once he had to look up a topology or IP addresses in one of his hundreds of labs. He gives analogies in order to better understand single technologies etc. Also I find Narbiks Labs better than the ones of INE. INE's labs usually have several things to do in one single lab. If you are already confused by the technology, and you have an answer key which answers 5 different questions in one lab, it does not help that much. Narbiks Labs usually address exactly one topic at the time, but he drills down to the very bottom of the protocol. I find his attempt much more efficient. His QoS lecture and lab is built extremely simple, but with that simple setup he can point out much more granular then you would find in INE's program. Nothing against INE, its a good, very good basis. Which I use it to prepare for my 10 day Narbik Bootcamp. He offers free re-takes, you basically only pay for your accommondation and rack rental as well as MOCK test rentals. For a surcharge of I think 1500 bucks on can upgrade from the 5 day to the 10 day bootcamp, which I will do. Did I mention Narbik is actually writting the current CCIE version 5 certification guide...

2014.06.7, the ANKI version of the flashcards are out!
I have just release the mobile version of my initially known "APP Free" study flashcards! It contains pretty much everything I looked at within the last year. Based on 14000 pages of Cisco press, INE, Narbiks Labs and other random stuff I thought would be handy to remember. Lots of the stuff is from version 4, but it doesn't hurt to know for version 5 or things to know for the daily operation. Today I believe am roughly there where I should be, its now all about gaining speed and accuracy and knowing all commands by hart, being able to wright them into a notepad without thinking, kind of muscle memory. I am now creating a process for myself for each technology, making myself go through the same steps each time I configure a certain technology. I have to mention that I have been to Narbiks 10 day class in June 2014 and once again it was just insane. I can really recommend going to his class twice. The first time you go its an eye opener, a total buffer overflow, you have a steap learning curve, but you will not be able to soak up everything, its just way too much. The second time you go to his class you fill your missing gaps and all the stuff you could not process the first time. Also you will have the gut feeling for the stuff you don't relly know as good as you wished and can ask him question after question and he will answer you all of them or will give you the answer in form of a nasty lab! Narbik knows when he should give you the full answer and when he points you to the correct lab of his and you will find out for yourself, after fighting his labs for couple of hours and them REMEMBER!


Stuff worth reading

# The CCIE RS blueprints v4 and v5

CCIE RS v4 Blueprints (LAB4.pdf)
CCIE RS v4 to v5 changes (LAB5.pdf

# INE study material / program

INE study plan v4

Colin Cant
6 Kelso Court
WA 6023, Duncraig, Australia