How to Prepare for Your CCIE Written Exam

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How to Prepare for Your CCIE Written Exam


“How do I use CCIEin8Weeks study material to prepare for the written exam?”

I have received this question over email, blog comments, and as direct twitter message. Let me take this opportunity to explain my take on it.

First, let’s put down why we’re preparing for the exam!

  • In order to get qualified for CCIE Lab (I wish Cisco would have just named it “CCIE Qualification Exam”!)
  • In order to stay ahead of the curve and get ahead in our networking/IT/Cloud career, we all have heard stories about CCIE commanding 6 figure salaries, haven’t we?
  • In order to eventually get the CCIE #, and the bragging rights that come with it

In order to meet these goals, I think you can break down your overall learning journey into three big areas – Learning, Practicing and finally Passing the exam! When I started CCIEin8Weeks 2+ years ago, thesis was that we give up the idea of trying and dabbling and help you to commit to mastery instead.

  • Learning

Learning is all about bringing to bear whatever you have access to. CCIEin8Weeks gives you a study guide along with “Further Reading” pointers. It is exactly laid out as per Cisco’s official exam blueprint so you can get up to speed on all relevant topics. Study guide is in PDF format, so you can literally read it on any device/platform you want to so always have access to it. Now, will that be enough for everyone out there to pass the exam? Yes and No. Yes for those of us who have strong background to begin with and can sharpen their concepts using the study guide. No for those who are just starting out and may have CCNP or CCNA certifications. In order to bridge that gap, we created a new study guide specifically for CCNPs and CCNAs, which is an expanded version of our existing R&S study guide. Regardless, if you feel that you are struggling with some of the concepts, I urge to tap into tremendous amount of other study resources that are out there, most of them free in the form of books, articles and blog posts. We have compiled a list of those resources here.

I’d not call it a day unless you have understood all the concepts, if you need some structure around your CCIE studies, we have put together study plans as part of all of our All-in-One packages. Remember that learning is essential in the sprit of “qualifying” for the CCIE lab exam, don’t let the allure of shortcuts lose you focus!

  • Practice

Logically, once you reach a point where you believe you have the concepts down and you have hit the study resources hard, it is time to put your learning to some test. For that, we have put together web-based quizzes that you can access from any device/platform with internet access. We have broken down quizzes into two categories, i.e. Practice Exams and Final Exam/Quiz.

We provide practice exams for each section in the blueprint for the respective exams, so depending on blueprint, you may find 5 or 6 or 7 practice exams. You can take them all at once, or after you have studied each section, totally up to you. During this phase, you should aim to find your weak areas so you can go back to “Learning” and repeat the cycle until it is no longer a weak area! Once you’re done with practice exams, you are ready to take the final exam. Final exam contains all of our recent updates so that is designed to give you the edge you need to pass the exam!

  • Passing the Exam

In case if you have not realized yet, taking a computer based adaptive exam is a science. All Cisco exams are adaptive, which means they are designed to find your weak areas. In real exam, test engine will randomly go through each CCIE written blueprint area and if you answer a question wrong, it is highly likely that you will see more from that area. Please note that there is no Back button and each attempt is $350 🙂

Please recall best practices from your SAT days, e.g. you must read through all the choices before answering the questions. Answer choices are designed to be tricky and there are various types of questions that you can expect to be on the exam (select the best, select two/three/four/five, select all that apply, drag and drop, scenario-based questions with topologies etc.). You also need to pace yourself, since you have to answer 90-110 questions in about 120 minutes, so we’re talking about close to a minute a question on average. Exam test engine contains a very large number of questions and they are delivered or streamed to you online in realtime, so you and your buddy taking the same exam at the same test center at the same time CAN get different questions. Inevitably, some questions will take more than a minute to answer, there is noting to worry since there will be some really simple and slam dunk questions too!

Now, I must say if you have passed the exam, it is time for some celebrations! In the spirit of celebration, if you’re a customer and have passed your written exam using our material, you can claim a small gift as a token of appreciation in the form of a T-Shirt. Please share your story and claim your CCIEin8Weeks T-Shirt here.

Be sure to read our “Everything to Ever Wanted to Know About CCIE and CCDE Written and Lab Exams Frequently Asked Questions Series of blog posts. You can access them as Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

As a reminder, we tweet each time we update our final exam quiz, so it is worth your while to follow us on Twitter.

Lastly, I wish you best of luck in your exam prep! Please feel free to drop a comment here or tweet us @cciein8weeks if you have a question.

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