How to prepare for CCIE Routing & Switching exam?

Certification: Cisco CCIE Routing and Switching - Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert Routing and Switching


You will be surprised to find that there are no comprehensive guides to help you prepare for your CCIE Routing & Switching Exam. Why is it so? The exam is for experts; it tests whether experts can configure, validate and troubleshoot network infrastructure, explain how parts of the infrastructure work together and use general knowledge to configure specific devices. However, this does not mean that you will have no clues on how to prepare for the exam.  Do not be scared by testimonies of people who have sat for the exam up to four times before passing. You should learn from their experience that the exam requires proper preparation and perseverance in order to pass in the first attempt. Below are ways you could prepare for the exam, build confidence in yourself and successfully pass the exam on the first attempt.

Hands-on Experience

You should gather a wealth of information testable in the exam through experience. It is prudent of you to pay attention to every detail whenever you are working in your profession. You should explore the various technologies to learn as much as you can. The good thing about learning by practice is that the information tends to stick to your mind as compared to when you learn it in theory. In addition, learning by practice helps you to build confidence in yourself. For example, hands-on experience is indispensable when focusing on the OSPF routing procedures.  You should set up your personal lab to carry out your experiments.  You should configure various types of OSPF Autonomous System on actual routers. Also, view the transition from Spanning-Tree protocol state to a different one on the actual switch. It will enable you to gain knowledge through observation.

Make use of the study plan

A good study plan should integrate reading, courses as well as learning by practice or rather hands-on experience. Although the exam tests theoretical concepts, hands-on experience enables you to understand and remember the concepts better than just reading.  By practically doing what you read, the information is likely to stick to your mind and flow out effortlessly during the written examination. You will be able to visualize the theories during the exam and thus have an easy time answering the questions.

You should spare some time to study for the exam. Choose a time that is convenient for you. It is prudent to stick to a study plan for at least six months before sitting for the exam. However, you could begin to study early and study for more than six months just to be on the safe side. Ensure that you have checkpoints or milestones in your study plan.

CCIE R &S exam is unique; unlike other certifications, the content is so wide and so deep such that the exam blueprint may seem useless. Nonetheless, it will enable you to point out your strong areas and your weak areas. The fact that the exam blueprint helps you to perform a gap analysis—to identify your weakest and strongest areas—sets the CCIE R &S apart from other certification exams. For you to make any progress, you must be candid when evaluating yourself.  You should then spend more time in your weak areas than your strong areas to reduce the gap before sitting for the exam. You could slow down as the exam date nears; you should only concentrate on your weak areas.

Take CCNA and CCNP exams before the CCIE R & S

You will be surprised to realize that taking CCNP and CCNA exams before the CCIE R&S serves as a preparation. Although there is no requirement that you take these two exams before sitting for your CCIE R & S, the exams will give you a taste of what CCIE R & S exam is. You will find out that you will be calm, and you are less likely to panic during the exam date

Read Extensively

You should read all kinds of material relating to CCIE R& S. However, start with exam specific guides. The exam guides enable you to know the exact areas that the exam covers. In addition, it enables you to know how the phrasing of the questions and what you should provide as an answer. Although you should not ignore any content, the exam guide enables you to know areas that you should dig deeper than in others. It saves you time in that you do not have to study irrelevant information. You should however not rely on exam guides only. You should read books and technical literature as well. It is therefore necessary to check the content in the exam guide and compare it with other resources. It is wise if you could research deeper on that topic, for instance, you should check on a relevant topic in the exam guide and if you observe that the guide covers a little of what you do not know.

Take the exam and make notes

Do not study for one exam your entire life! Many people study for the CCIE R& S exam but never feel ready to take the exam. You should register for the exam and sit for the exam. If you do fail, take notes on what surprised you. The results should serve as a fair way of gauging yourself.  It is easy to favor yourself when you rely on your judgment when pointing out your strengths and weaknesses. The exam will never favor you; you will realize your weaknesses and strengths after sitting for the actual exam. You will improve your weakest points and by the next time you sit for the exam, you will pass with excellence. Do not forget that some people sit for the exam up to four times before passing!


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