jun 04 2008

Dicas de preparação: CCIE Lab

Pessoal, não sei quantos de vocês têm a intenção de obter o CCIE este ano (pelo resultado da enquete que fizemos há algum tempo, apenas 4% dos leitores), mas este post passa algumas dicas muito boas para o exame prático – sem quebrar o acordo de confidencialidade da Cisco. Quem passa as dicas (em inglês) é o Jonathan Stevens, que montou este texto logo após obter seu CCIE, ano passado. Observem as 5 máximas que ele coloca, destacadas em amarelo no texto. Excelentes!!

Espero que gostem!



Segue o texto de autoria de Jonathan Stevens na íntegra:

Hi all,

In the spirit of groupstudy.com I’m very pleased to say I’ve just got my number on my first attempt (in Brussels), so am feeling very pleased with myself indeed.

Thanks to everybody who contributes, especially those who ASK the questions, it’s a great form of study trying to figure out the answers to some of the questions posed here. Quite often I’d know I didn’t understand things as well as I should; merely by reading someone else’s question.

So, as I’ve found reading other peoples “Ten Top Tips” very useful here are mine (except they aren’t numbered or in any order)…

Chapter One

7-9 Years ago I learnt to configure Cisco kit on my own on a live network with bugger all experience and only the Documentation CD to help me…. suffice to say I got myself into some terrible messes in the early hours of the day (and caused the odd bit of chaos). However, it was a baptism of fire which blessed me with the ability to concentrate on

  1. What should this router be doing?
  2. What IS this router doing?
  3. What’s the difference?
  4. Why?
  5. So how do I fix it?

We invented pencils, then had to invent erasers.

We invented pens, then had to invent tipex (or whatever you call it where you are).

We have two eraser keys on every keyboard (one of them rather oversized) The moral of this chapter is – We make mistakes, we all do, all the time

– there is no way you will not make any mistakes in your lab. Learn the stupid mistakes you make, how to avoid them, how to find them, how to correct them. Keep clear on what you are trying to achieve.

For example…

route-map ospf->eigrp OR route-map OSPF->EIGRP

Tip: If it isn’t a keyword PUT IT IN CAPITALS

For example…

redistribute eigrp 10 route-map OSPF->EIGRP metric 1000 0 255 1 1500 route-map OSFP->EIGRP match ip address OSPF->EIGRP ip access-list standard OSPF->EIGRP permit

Tip: If you have a route-map with a single access list linked to it, use the same names. You can extend this to QoS etc.

Tip: If you can use named access lists in the exam, do, and include the section you are solving e.g. ip access-list standard S10_1_BGP_AS

Tip: When things like the above don’t work properly, and you are sure they should, check your typing (mine is attrocious – I reckon teaching yourself to touch type properly would be A Really Good Thing)…

For example (in the above)…

sh run | inc OSPF->EIGRP

This shows only…

redistribute eigrp 10 route-map OSPF->EIGRP metric 1000 0 255 1 1500 match ip address OSPF->EIGRP ip access-list standard OSPF->EIGRP So I’ve quickly found my typo.

Really Good Tip: Someone once told me this (thanks JohnL) and it is one of the best bits of advice I’ve every had about troubleshooting (anything)…

If something isn’t working and you are going to change things, ONLY CHANGE ONE THING AT A TIME, then look at the results, see what it has done, IF YOUR CHANGE DIDN’T FIX THE PROBLEM CHANGE IT BACK. Then CHANGE ONE THING AT A TIME. There are obviously caveats to this, for example if you change BGP or RIP filters make sure that the router re-receives the routes. This is especially true for BGP, make sure you know how to get other routers to resend the routes. Understand route-refresh methods because clear ip bgp can lose you a lot of time…. You won’t have access to backbone routers, so know how to find out if they support route-refresh options, or if they don’t what your options are.

Chapter 2

Getting to know how Cisco want you configure their kit. They made it.

They designed it. They know what each command ACTUALLY does. So, learn to do things the way they think you are supposed to – it might not be the IEEE way, but the IEEE didn’t make the kit.

I did my CCNP a long time ago, then my CCDP, then my CCIP quite recently. The CCNP is better now than it was when I did it, I think. The CCIP is very useful for ensuring your BGP, IGP and QoS skills are up to scratch (and the MPLS is very interesting and makes you think a lot more about MP-BGP).

This may sound strange as ISIS isn’t in the exams now (for R&S), but learn it. I found that learning ISIS really improved my understanding of OSPF (and SPF in general). It also helped my understanding of BGP. ISIS is a bit daunting at first, but it’s a very good link-state routing protocol. It’s like you can’t describe very well what a fruit is if you only have an apple; but if you have an apple and a lemon you’d be able to point out their similarities and how they differ from vegetables.

Hrm… fruit-state versus vegetable routing protocols. Which reminds me, I never did discover the meaning of cold-potato routing….

Chapter 3

The written. I guess most people on this list have passed this, so I won’t bother much except that I found this difficult. I don’t always see the questions from the right point of view. I pretty much scraped through (73%) on my second go…. The point is that you shouldn’t take it as a guide of how well you will do in the lab exam. They are, as many many people have said before, very different beasts. However, you have to know the theory, and well; because if you don’t, you will go into the lab swimming in a sea of uncertainty.

Chapter 4

How to prepare for the lab.

I was very lucky in that I work for a Gold Partner and was selected to go for my CCIE. I had almost exclusive access to their lab kit every day, and I used it.

I’ve probably been doing intensive practical study for about six weeks.

That’s up early, do an eight hour practise lab, then grade myself, understand where I went wrong and then correct my configs. After that (so that’s 10 hours of concentration) I’d go through the posting on GroupStudy, then to bed with a cup of Horlicks and a book (Good point to put my booklist in, but please check for the latest versions of any)….

Routing TCP/IP, Volume I (Cisco Press) (2nd Edition) Routing TCP/IP, Volume II (Cisco Press) Cisco LAN Switching (Cisco Press) Internet Routing Architectures, 2nd Edition (Cisco Press) CCIE Practical Studies, Volume I CCIE Practical Studies, Volume II (CCIE Self-Study) Implementing Cisco IPv6 Networks (IPV6) Bridges, Routers and Switches for CCIEs, 2nd Edition Troubleshooting IP Routing Protocols (CCIE Professional Development) Advanced BGP Design and Implementation

Make sure any books you get are appropriate for the new lab.

I chose to use NetmasterClass

(http://www.netmasterclass.com/site/home.php) DoIts and CheckIts mainly on the advise of postings just like this one. Another factor was their quick (and detailed) response to the change in the labs – I am not afraid of IPv6 (I actually rather like it – sad geek that I have become)!

This turned out to be A Very Wise Decision (Wise Like a Ninja Owl!) I got their package of the DoIt Vol II Lab Workbook (it’s got around 28 fiendish labs in it) plus 5 on-line CheckIts. They claim that these labs are generally more difficult that the real thing, and I’d say that they could well be correct in that.

If you are serious about passing your lab then I’d strongly recommend you (at the very least) do the sample lab (which you can download for free).

The DoIts you can do in whatever manner you prefer….

Do print them out and scribble all over them. Tick every requirement in every sentence of every subsection of every section as you do them.

Remember that in the exam the sections are all interlinked, so it unlikely that you can do the exam in the same order as the sections. You will need to jump around a bit and you need to ensure you don’t miss things. The Devil Is In The Details.

1) Get yourself a nice Stopwatch or Countdown program and set it for eight hours and pretend you’re in the lab (same rules except you can talk to yourself). All you can access on the net is the Documentation CD (don’t use search – learn where everything is). This way you realise it’s unlikely you’re going to know it all, but if you know something exists and roughly where it is, then you can check the syntax or defaults or caveats or prerequisits or whatever quickly and easily. This stops mistakes and saves time.

2) Take as long as you want on the DoIt lab and research and understand the problems in the scenario. Perfect your diagrams and methods. Mess around with what ifs and how comes. Make notes.

Try doing both methods, alternatively.

Don’t read the Answer Keys until the end, but when you do make sure you understand exactly why the solutions are what they are, how they work and if it’s a feature you don’t know about learn it.

NetmasterClass have a forum for every lab, where you can discuss your results, and any questions you have on either the scenario or the answer key are always answered promptly and with detail and helpful advice (Alexei – if you read this group, thank you very much indeed for all your feedback and advice). These really helped.

Then there were the CheckIts. These were just brilliant. I really think they made the difference for me. Remote 8 hour labs that are graded with great detail. You get a great wad of feedback about your performance and grading in all the sections, plus a detailed discussive answer key. You can view your final configs and compare them with the “ideal” configs.

The thing that the CheckIt labs did for me was to put me under the same sort of pressure as the real thing. I even did a couple with the TV on in the background (to teach me not to be distracted by my surrounding).

I’d be anxiously waiting for my results in the evening, a bit like the real thing! Get your marks up above the 80s and you will go into the real thing with Confidence.

These labs are Tricky and sometimes Downright Devious, if not Evil. Just like the real thing can be. They taught me how the thing works. They taught me how to use my time. They taught me how to spot conflicts between sections (ah the great Frame Relay interface v. OSPF network type connundrum). They are sneakily written and you learn to recognise the signs of getting setup for something (e.g. DO do this, DON’T do that, DO this, DO that…. hahaha Now try and make THIS work). You might even like to think of them as Network Sudoko. Some very clever puzzles are to be found in the pages of the DoIts and CheckIts.

I’d say they worked for me, and contributed greatly to my first time pass.

Whatever provider you use for your practise labs, I’d say make sure you use their products as effectively as you can. Remember you are learning, testing, and practising all at the same time. Make sure you have a good line of communication with them. If you don’t understand something, you have to have a quick way to find out what they meant in a certain question or solution – you need that support (well it saves you time).

Above all, as everyone says, Practise. But one thing a lot of people don’t say here is that you really need to practise how you take the test as well. This would include your own shorthands for diagraming and marking out redistributions. In general I found I always benefitted from four diagrams. A layer 3 IP and IGP diagram, onto which I’d transpose redistribution, nat, redundancy (and sometimes multicast), a switch connectivity diagram showing routers and switch ports along with vlans and trunking information, a BGP diagram with my own notations for the various methods, and normally a multicast diagram.

The Day Before The Lab

Check-in to your hotel.

Make sure you can access the email address in your CCIE profile.

Go to the lab location, find out exactly where you are supposed to be the next morning.

Know how long it takes you to get there.

Buy some brand new nice coloured pens, four colours should do (but DO check with the Proctor that he is happy for you to bring them in).

If you are a smoker, consider a patch or some Nicorette for the day….

The Lab

Can’t talk about this. 😉

By this point it should just be a case of doing it. If you’ve done your preperation properly there won’t be any surprises (except of course the ones you are expecting)…

Here’s how I worked out the time you have…

100 points = 8 hours.

Take the first whole hour.

This is to read the paper, read every section (look at the diagrams and understand the questions as you do this). Look for relationships between sections.

Look at the diagrams. Get a feel for where your hubs and spokes are, where are your routing protocols, where could there be loops, where might you need virtual-links, etc, etc. Look for good routers to do debugs and tests on and from.

Now make a big clear copy of the diagram (you can’t write on the question paper). Copy all the IP addresses and as you add them to your diagram check that they make sense. There’s nothing that brings out the hidden detail in a diagram so much as transposing it into your own.

Do any other diagrams you use (a switch/vlan one is really helpful).

While you are doing this have a check to find out what (if any) configs are already on the routers.

Figure out which sections you are confident about, make short notes about things you have to check later.

So that’s your first hour (ignore everyone else tapping away).

Now if you assume that you should have an hour left at the end to check everything (and you really do need to plan for this, they will catch you out somewhere).

This leaves you 3.6 minutes for every point.

So if a question is worth 2 points, aim to spend no more than 7.2 minutes on it. That’s scary, but sometimes you just know the answer and in it goes. Job done, and you’ve gained some minutes for another more tricky question. Don’t spend an hour at the start of the day on 2 points

– it’s just not worth it (unless everything else depends on it – if so, you can always put a TEMPORARY workaround in).

As you go through the paper, note the sections you think might get messed up by other sections and think of quick ways to test them.

Scribble this down somewhere.

You definately need to learn to leave a question alone if you’re getting lost in it. Sometimes you need distance (haha – if only you knew how apt that was for my exam) for clarity. Make sure you note down the sections you want to come back to though, and make sure you understand which later sections might require it to be complete.

So then you just get on with it all. Don’t be afraid to use the Doc CD, by now you know it so well you can find the details on something very quickly. Know when to go to the command reference and when to go to the configuration guide. The two bits you really need to know are IOS 12.4 documentation (it’s very well organised and well laid out – but huge) and the 3550 12.2TSEC/D sections. The 12.3 Documentation is a bit all over the place.

Keep an eye on the time and where you should be, but Don’t Panic, just calmly proceed. Don’t be afraid to step back for a minute. I got myself in a right mess in the middle of the exam, but somehow was wise enough to leave it all alone. I came back at the end, and due to the Amazing Incredible Power of the Subconcious (e.g. the backburner in your head) I had a eureka moment. While I was waiting for my brain I did a good few other questions….

Save your configs at milestones (and before any experiments)…

(IMHO) Reload at lunch and Reload before you do your final checks.

Last hour check, check, check and check – go through your notes, check check check. If you have time, check each answer to each question to appropriate degree.

If you are going to make corrections think about them very carefully.

You should at the very least have everything saved now, so if you make a change and it goes wrong all you need to do is reload. The other option is to copy out the section of config you are going to change, and keep it safe in notepad.

Ah yes: Notepad. Notepad is your friend. Use it, abuse it, be clever with it. I managed to get some bgp AS numbers mixed up and corrected them in two minutes flat with the help of Notepad. Be clever with search and replace. Be careful with pasting – never hurry!

I found two or three simple stupid mistakes in the last fifteen minutes, things like configuring the right port in the right way, but on the wrong switch… Doh! Don’t Panic! Notepad is my friend. That could have been quite a few fairly straightforward points lost for no reason other than carelessness (and exam head).

I guess I’m recommending that your lab is actually six hours long. You have an hour to prepare, and an hour to grade yourself.

The Result

Damn It Feels Good! It really does!

Anyway, I think I’ve waffled on quite long enough…. hope someone finds this as useful as I did some of the postings I read. I’ve just realised I’m going to have to read through this now (to check for mistakes)…


Yes, there were quite a few.

Good luck to everyone studying!

If anyone else did their lab in Brussels on the 25th January do let me know how you did! I hope you did well!

Best Regards,

Jonathan Stevens
CCIE# 15714

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5 comentários

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  1. Rodrigo Farias

    Um dia eu chego aí… rs

    Pelo o que eu tou vendo tem que DOMINAR completamente o CCNA/CCNP.


  2. Toguko

    Post guardado para o ano que vem…este ano só CCNP, mas obrigado

    Abraços, Rafael Venancio


  3. Quem sabe um dia…CIEE minha mãe não vai acreditar 🙂 hahahahahaha

    Mas até como Rodrigo Farias disse tem que dominar completamente o CCNA e o CCNP!!!



  4. Rodrigo C. Soave


    Eu li depoimentos desses, dicas de quem passou muitas vezes quando comecei a estudar de vez para o lab no começo de 2006 e mesmo sabendo do que cada candidato passou e tentar absorver as principais informações para aplica-las na minha prova, nada como você criar seu próprio método e eliminar o que não funciona para você. Somente depois da experiencia por passar a primeira vez no lab e ser reprovado, você começa a refletir e pensar o que você se preparou e podia ser diferente da próxima vez.

    E foi assim que fiz na minha tragetoria ate passar na minha quarta tentativa em Nov de 2007.
    A questão é essa: não é se você vai passar ou não, e sim quando, por que tem que insistir, se sacrificar, pois no final vale a pena.


    Rodrigo Cesine Soave – CCIE #19278


  5. cisco.com

    Rodrigo C. Soave..interessante esse seu comentário.
    Acredito que temos que ser persistentes, ter um objetivo e independente dos resultados no meio do caminho, sempre tentar chegar a esse objetivo.

    Quando estava agendando minha prova do CCNA, final do ano passado, bem na época que a cisco estava lançando o 802, lembro que eu estava desesperado para fazer a prova e no fim das contas antes de agendar a prova oficialmente eu sofri um acidente de moto e tive que ficar de molho durante uns 45 dias com gesso no braço…resumindo, não podia fazer a prova pois não tinha como digitar os comando de configuração nos labs…fiquei loko…mas pensei por outro lado e aproveitei o tempo para estudar mais e fui fazer a prova…e deu certo pois não desisti!!!

    “Sou brasileiro, não desito nunca!!!”




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