Where to start and where it could end up to

Last week a friend of mine just got his CCIE number. We have been together in a book camp last year in October. It was also his third attempt. And, as i heard from him, he was also quite unsure about his final result and could not believe what he has seen the next day on his CCIE profile. Congratulations to him. Also, because he did it, having a 16 month old child, that not always will let you do what you want. But as you can see, it is possible. It’s just quite hard to get motivated every time, but as you stick to it, it is possible.

So where to start, when your just at the beginning of everything and don’t know where to head to. Do you to build up your lab yourself or is it better to rent a lab? What study materials do you need? How much time do you need? What is the best approach for learning and for the lab.

I will try to answer some of the questions here and hope you will find it usefull on your trip to CCIE.

  • Written ist the starting point

First of all you have to pass the Written test before you even can think of the practice lab at all. This needs already quite some time.

Always check out the Cisco homepage for the most actual news on this. This should become your primary pointer where to go to and where you can find all informations regarding the lab.

  • Always the most up do date informations about the CCIE Certifications path

Just go to „www.cisco.com/go/ccie“ and there you can start reading about topics and book recomandations regardings the Written Exam and the practical Lab exam.

After you have completed your Written Exam, you will need to schedule your lab date.

Add yourself to groupstudy. This mailinglist is a good resource for questions during your study. www.groupstudy.com

This Lab will last 8 hours and you can take it at several places on earth. The only place in europe is brussels in belgium.

What you have to do in the next weeks or months, depending on your skills is mainly configuration speed and knowledge. And you have to make your plan, how you will beat the beast.

Most important points will be:

  • Configuration speed
  • Time management
  • Technology knowledge
  • A good sleep the night before


Just try to practice each technology one by one. Don’t start with doing just one lab after the other. Look at each technology one after the other and debug/confirm things as much as possible. This will be the key, to become more and more self confident.

Try to do some Labs. If your working for a Cisco Gold Parter you can do Cisco’s ASET Labs. I can really recommend them, since thery are a very good chance to get an idea of what Cisco wants you to do in the real lab. The have the AutoVerify function, which will let you check out, what is wrong and what it right.


Since, mostly you will not find your mistakes easily yourself. It’s good to have a tool that will the the grading for you.

Don’t worry if you can not access the ASET labs. Different Vendors have Mock Labs or grading systems, that will be very similar to Cisco’s ASET Labs. Just to them, when your ready for the Lab. If you have done some vendor 8 hour labs, you should check where you are and if your really ready to take the lab. You will find out quite easily.

Then focus on topics you don’t know. Try not to focus on topics you already know. If possible pick out some of them at test your knowledge on these.

Be carefull to not cheat yourself with only doing configurations, that you know already very good and leave out others that need more practice.


At least on the lab day you need a good sleep. Just go through every task and if you can’t solve it right away, just leave it alone and move to the next task. Just remember, you only get 2-4 points on every task. If you stay with one for more then 30 minutes it’absolutly not worth it. Just leave it alone if possible.

If you have to skip more than 15 questions right away, it might be not your day and you have just spend a lot money for the meal this day.

Try to verify your solutions more than once. Read every questions more than once. Also after two, three times reading, you could still miss something. Double check everything.

After you have been through the whole lab, check out things you have left out before. Then you might able to find a solution for the missing topics more easily, with the most of the lab already solved.

You have to have more then 80% of the available points. You don’t have to get all 100%. If you have passed the lab, you will not get the number of points you have reached, only pass or now is noted. So if someone tells you, he got all 100 Points, he could never now, if this is the case.

And you have to answer at minimum 3 out of 4 questions correctly. These questions will be asked in the beginning of your lab and will focus on core topics. Don’t worry about these questions.

Some say they have had an easy lab some say, that it has been a difficult lab. I would say it depends on your preparation. Most labs will have a similar level.

So when will you add yourself to the growing list of ccie’s worldwide? Good luck.

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