How to Pass the Routing & Switching CCIE Lab Exam

Getting Started

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life - Confucius

It can not be emphasized enough that to pass the CCIE lab and become a true INE you must be willing to put forth the time and effort needed to complete this journey. To some extent you should have an interest in the networking field. Having this interest will make your journey easier. You may not ever come to truly enjoy networking as I do but candidates that enjoy this field pass at a higher rate then candidates that do not.

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.- Confucius

When you first start your journey you will need to assess your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the technologies and topics covered in the CCIE Lab Exam. It is vital that you are honest with yourself when making this assessment. Download the Routing & Switching CCIE checklist and follow the instructions outlined at the top of the checklist to assess yourself.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step- Confucius

Now that you have gone through the checklist, you know where you are at and you know where you are going. Some will have a head start in this journey through on the job networking experience and some will be taking their first step. No matter where you are in your journey, the products and services provided in the INE CCIE RS Training Program will ensure that you will complete your journey.

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.- Confucius

Do not look for "short cuts" on your journey. Stick to the path we have outlined for you here and it will help you not only in your journey to become a CCIE but also in your career as a networking engineer. During your journey stay away from cheat sheets, brain dumps, gotcha lists, etc. The material you have access to here is everything you need to complete your journey. All of the products and services are designed as an important step in your journey. The INE's End-to-End Program is not just a bunch of products and services that are bundled together with no rhyme or reason. All of the products and services are developed by myself and Brian McGahan. We put our name on the front of everything we offer and personally stand behind our products and services.

It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.- Confucius

You may get discouraged at times during your journey and think that it may not be worth it. Don't give up or stray from your path and you will complete the journey as hundreds of our customers have done before you.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.- Confucius

The average candidate attempts the CCIE lab 2.7 times before passing. You want to have a personal goal to pass the lab the first time or the second at the latest. If you have properly followed the path we have given you this should be an obtainable goal.

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.- Confucius

I would like to add a couple more items here before you begin. As I said earlier, you must be honest in your assessment of your knowledge. There isn't a problem in thinking you are knowledgeable about a topic but there is a problem when you think you are more knowledgeable then you really are. I've personally seen people take the CCIE Lab 7 or 8 times before passing because of this single problem. They would never step back to assess where they were and why they failed. They believed they just needed more practice labs and would buy every workbook on the market. You don't want to fall into this trap. You want to pass the CCIE lab exam as a byproduct of learning the technologies and topics covered. You don't want to pass because you can remember seeing a scenario in a practice lab you did.

Congratulations on beginning your journey!

The Three Step Learning Process

The recommended learning process you should take is what I define as a three step learning process. The first step is to get an understanding of what the technology or feature does and why it was implemented. This step should be done from a vendor neutral point of view if possible. This can be done by purchasing the various books available or by just using the freely available white papers, RFC, etc. available on the Internet.

The second step is to learn how Cisco has implemented the particular technology or feature. You can do this by using the numerous configuration examples, tech tips, and documentation available on the Internet and Cisco's website along with the Cisco Press books. Don't underestimate the wealth of information available on the Cisco DocCD.

Now that you have an understanding of the why and the how, it's time to take the third step by gaining experience with the technology or feature through hands on practice. Although anything is pretty much theoretically possible, you can not expect to pass the CCIE Lab Exam without hundreds of hours of hands-on practice and/or real world experience on the routers and switches. In the CCIE lab they will be trying to test your experience and the main way they test experience is by seeing how familiar you are with the technologies and topics. Generally speaking, someone who is more familiar will also be faster. By faster I don't mean that they can type faster but that they can do a task faster than someone without the equivalent experience. So don't worry about your keyboard typing speed if it's not the fastest.

If we break these three steps down into time frames the first step would consume about 15%, the second step about 20%, and the last step about 65%. This means that for every one hour of reading about a technology or topic you should expect to spend two hours doing hands-on practice.

Recommended Reading Prior to Starting

At this level you are assumed to have at least a CCNP level of knowledge and/or experience before starting your lab preparation. Most of this knowledge can also be found in the books in our recommended reading section.

The books below are designed to ensure that you solidify your foundation in general networking. As with a real building, the foundation you put down now will determine the height of the building that can be built upon it in the future.Take the time to read these books and solidify your foundation.

  • Internetworking with TCP/IP, Vol 1 by Douglas E. Comer
  • The Protocols (TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1) by W. Richard Stevens

Based on your personal style of learning you can use either one of these books as a starting point. Ideally you would read both but just one is sufficient. If you select "The Protocols" by Stevens you can skip chapter 29 (NFS: Network File System). If you select Internetworking with TCP/IP by Comer which is my personal choice, you should read it cover to cover.

  • Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols (2nd Edition)by Radia Perlman

You can skip chapter 4 (Source Route Bridges) and chapter 7 (Connection-oriented Nets: X.25 and ATM).

Learning the Technologies and Topics Covered in the CCIE Lab Exam

CCIE Routing & Switching Advanced Technologies Audio Class (IEATC-RS-AUD)

The audio class is designed to ensure that you have a solid understanding of the technologies that will be covered in the CCIE Lab Exam. These should be listened to prior to starting any of the other material.

After listening to these modules if you feel you have some "gaps" in your basic understanding of the technologies covered, you should fallback and fill in these gaps. The recommended reading list can be used for this.

CCIE Routing & Switching Lab Workbook Volume I (IEWB-RS-VOL1)

Use the technology labs as a means to get an understanding of the implementation for any technologies or features you are not familiar with. These labs are not meant to be done as a whole but more as a way to fill in any gaps in your knowledge base.

CCIE Routing & Switching Advanced Technologies Class-on-Demand (IEATC-RS-COD)

The Advanced Technologies CoD is two weeks worth of class material. Each recording is broken down into roughly four hour sections. It is not uncommon for people to view sections that they are weak on more than once so if you feel you didn't fully understand a section, be sure to rewind the CoD and go back over the section.

After you have finished the CoD you should have a good understanding of the technologies and topics covered in the CCIE Lab Exam. You will have also gained a good understanding of the configuration and verification process.

At this point it's time to solidify your knowledge by applying what you have learned.

Solidifying and Expanding Your Existing Knowledge

CCIE Routing & Switching Lab Workbook Volume II (IEWB-RS-VOL2) CCIE Routing & Switching Lab Workbook Volume III (IEWB-RS-VOL3) CCIE Routing & Switching Graded Mock Lab Exams (IEML-RS-G)

The goal for this part of your journey is to solidify your knowledge while at the same time expanding your knowledge by hands on practice. It is important that you have the knowledge discussed earlier as you will have a much harder time with the labs and will not receive the full benefit of them.

Start off with the IEWB-RS Volume II Workbook labs 1, 2, 3, and 4. Treat these as more warm-up labs as opposed to true practice labs. What is meant by "warm-up" is use these labs to get familiar and comfortable with doing full eight hour labs and not be concerned if they take you more than 8 hours to complete. Ensure that you gain the knowledge and experience that is conveyed in these labs and not worry about a pass or fail at this point.

Once you have finished these first four labs, switch over to the Lab Workbook Volume III. Do labs 1, 2, and 3. You want to be able to do the vast majority of these labs without relying on the Cisco Documentation CD (DocCD) too much at this point. Ideally you are only using it to verify command options and not using it to help solve a task. If you are having to reference the DocCD for most of the tasks in the labs you may need to step back and reevaluate if you are ready to continue on. There is no shame in stepping back. You are far better off stepping back and going back over the technologies and topics than you are going forward and failing the real lab.

At this point you are roughly two-thirds of the way to being ready for the real lab and you should start feeling more comfortable doing these practice labs. Now switch back to the IEWB-RS-VOL2 Workbook and do labs 5, 10, and 12 in Volume II. You will want to focus a little on speed and trying to achieve a score of roughly 65 or better. The instructions on how to grade your own labs is covered in the introduction section of the IEWB-RS Volume I Workbook.

Switch over and do labs 4 and 5 from Lab Workbook Volume III. You want to focus on speed with your configuration and verification skills along with minimizing any simple mistakes (applying configuration to the wrong device, filtering on the wrong interface, etc). Remember to follow the advice I gave in the IEATC-RS class and "test as you build".

Do IEWB-RS-VOL2 labs 16, 17, and 18 next and then follow up with Lab Workbook Volume III labs 6 through 10. At this point you have done all of the Lab Workbook Volume III labs and half of the IEWB-RS Volume II labs.

Ensuring You Are Ready

Now with a good portion of the journey behind you, it is time to take the first two mock labs. The reason you should take two labs over taking just one is to ensure that you can get an accurate assessment. It will depend on the results of your first two mock labs as to how you will move forward.

If you scored 60% or below on both mock labs this is another point in your journey that you should step back and reassess your knowledge and readiness for the real lab. Think back and try to figure out why you scored so low. Here are some of the more common reasons people have a hard time with the mock labs:

  1. Do not understand the technologies and topics covered
  2. Had problems understanding the requirements from the wording given in the tasks
  3. Made too many little mistakes
  4. Overwhelmed with all of the tasks and didn't havetime to complete them all

If you failed because of number 1, you definitely should step back and fill in the gaps you have in your knowledge. Don't go any further with the workbooks until you have done this. Every time I teach the IEATC-RS class I learn something new so I can pretty much guarantee that if you watch the CoD or attend the class again you will benefit from it. Remember that we do not require you to fail the real lab before you can audit our classes again. Also, do not hesitate to go back and redo a couple of the IEWB-RS-VOL2 labs that you have done before. You may be surprised at what you can still learn from them.

If you had problems with number 2 it could be a couple of issues. First off you may not understand the technologies and topics enough to grasp the wording of the tasks. If you understand the technologies and topics you should be able to complete the task. Secondly you may be "overthinking" the tasks. Do what the task is asking and nothing more. Do try to apply real world logic or design to the task. Also don't add in "what if's". meaning do not worry about quot;what if" this router goes down or "what if" the Frame Relay circuit is down. If the proctors are looking for redundancy to be taken into consideration they will ask for it.

The little mistakes is what personally gets me (forgetting to no shut an interface, etc). As you become more of an "expert" you will make fewer mistakes and solve the ones that you do make quickly. You will always make little mistakes as it's just human nature but with experience you will be better at finding and fixing your own mistakes. For many people that fail the lab it's the little mistakes that get them into some big problem as you might think.

Lastly number four is just going to boil down to getting the hands on practice needed to be good at doing these labs. No tips, tricks, or braindumps can substitute for the hands on experience you will need with the IOS to pass the real lab exam.

If you scored between 60% and 80% on both mock lab 1 and 2 you will need to get back to the workbook labs. If not, continue on to mock labs 3 and 4. After you complete labs 3 and 4 you should be ready for the real lab!

Good Luck!
Brian Dennis, CCIE #2210 (Routing & Switching, ISP Dial, Security, Service Provider, Voice)

Questions or comments about this outline? Brian Dennis can be contacted at .

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