Hour 748: CCIE material review after first lab exam

A couple of weeks have passed since my first lab attempt. Have I studied since? A couple of hours here and there but nothing as intense as before. I have not given up but my lab failure has made me question if I really wanted to pursue this exam.

This said, I have booked my second lab attempt for April 23rd 2015. This gives me a little over 3 months to start practicing and to review all the material once again. Now that I know what to expect from this exam I think I have a better chance of passing it.

In one of my last posts I said I would do a review of the material I used and how it helped me for the CCIE R&Sv5 so here it is.

Reading Material:

Routing TCP/IP Vol1-2:

These two books are really good for the CCIE Written although a lot of the content is old or better explained in the CCNP books. Some people call them the bible of routing and I can see where they are coming from. However, as a CCNP I was already proficient at routing and didn’t benefit from these books as much as the following ones.

Cisco QoS, Exam certification guide:

There was no QoS in my exam but this doesn’t mean you should ignore the topic. This book helped me tremendously at my job and during the practice labs. Who knows, maybe I’ll get some QoS on my next attempt. A must read for the CCIE Written.

CCIE Routing and Switching version 4

This book is useless. Most of the topics covered are already covered in all the other ones. I doubt that anyone would buy the v4 book now that the v5 one is out anyways.

MPLS Fundamental

I did not read the whole MPLS fundamental book but I should of. Most of the people I talked to recommended to only go through the first few chapters as they told me that you don’t need to know any of the advanced topics for the exam. My suggestion would be to read the whole book. For TSHOOT and CONFIG I had L3VPN and some of the more advanced concepts like load-balancing between RRs on the PE’s.

Developing IP Multicast Networks Vol I

In the CCNA-CCNP path you will learn almost nothing on multicast and you will need to have an expert level knowledge of this topic. This book is the bible on multicast. Read it once, read it again and keep it as a reference.

Internet Routing Architecture

This book is good for best practices and designs. It’s good to read once you finish your CCNP to get a more in-depth understanding of BGP. Not a must have but definitely a good read.


This is the most important document to read out of all of them. You must read the sections not covered in the above books and that are listed in the blueprint. I recommend you read the Q&A for most core topics and understand the ins and outs of these technologies. You do NOT have the time to go read the documentation and figure out why something is broken on your lab day. It only takes 1 mistake in of the critical areas and you will FAIL the lab. The exam is based on a script for auto correction so if you fail one of the sections and it breaks multiple other sections then you will fail the lab.

Lab Practice:

IPexpert CCIE R&S Lab v4 Workbook 1-3 (not all Workbook 3)

These are the first workbooks I went through and the hardest. Marko Milivojevic made them before he left IPexpert. Compared to the real exam these were much harder and challenging. I’m thinking of redoing Workbook 3 and replacing the Frame Relay sections with DMVPN. I would say that if you exhausted the INE’s and IPexpert v5 workbooks to try these.

INE CCIE R&S v5 Technology Workbook

A ton of configuration tricks and caveats for each technologies are explained in this workbook. I learned so much from it, it’s amazing. The best technology workbook on the market for sure and a must have for future references.

IPexpert CCIE R&S Lab v5 Workbook 2 Lab 1-2

The Full mock lab workbook from IPexpert are ok but not great. They are easier than the exam and pretty short. The good thing about them is that they simulate pretty accurately the real thing by having a large topology and with the TSHOOT/DIAG/CONFIG format.

INE CCIE R&S v5 Lab Workbook 1 – 2

Similar to their technology workbook, INE’s Lab workbook is by far the best on the market. I highly recommend them to anyone doing their CCIE Lab training. These are much harder than IPexpert v5 workbooks and about the same level as the exam. The only downside to the INE material is that there is no Diagnostic section.

Cisco 360 Labs 1-10

These are very good to learn the technologies and to get better at troubleshooting complex problems. However, the Cisco 360 TSHOOT as well as the CONFIG have very small topologies (around 9 routers and 4 switches) and don’t reflect the real exam. Although Cisco made these labs, the TSHOOT labs are too easy compared to the real thing. I would stay away from these unless you are running out of material to study.


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