The CCIE R&S lab exam is an expert level exam, and there is no one book or training course that will have all of the information, lab exercises or sample questions you need in order to pass this exam. One way to help build the knowledge foundation for the exam comes from your real-world experience and a lot of hands-on practice preparation.
A proper study plan should have a mix of reading, taking courses, and hands-on experience. Hands-on experience or practice helps build the knowledge and retain the theoretical concepts you gather from reading and courses.
Set aside 3 to 4 hours per day to study if you are planning to take the lab exam within 4 to 5 months. Just remember that when you get close to your lab exam date (15 to 20 days), you will need to add more hours; have a couple of 8-hour time slot to practice once a week. And, the week before the exam you should slow down a bit as you need to save all your energy for the day of the exam.
Different study methods work different for different people, but here is what I usually suggest to CCIE candidates:
- Have your study material ready: books, technical documents, and access to Cisco.com documentation, and Cisco switches documentation.
- Have access to a practical lab or a set of routers and switches.
- Have the CCIE R&S Blueprint v4.0 ready (listed below in the Exam Objectives Section).
- Divide the blueprint in modules as you feel comfortable; for example, 1) VLANs and VTP; 2) Trunk and Etherchannel; 3) Spanning Tree; 4) OSPF, and so on.
- Stick to one module in one of your study time slots. Use either the reading material (or documents) and the practice lab. While you are reading your docs, create a scenario to practice on your lab. This will help you learn how the technology works and their different behaviors. This will avoid your feeling the need to go back or start from scratch. Also, this approach will help you to prepare for the Troubleshooting section, as you see yourself unexpected situations and behaviors as you practice.
- Once you have finished all the modules for 'Implementing Layer 2 Technologies,' create a scenario to practice that involves all topics for this section of the blueprint. With this you have covered everything you need for the first section.
- Repeat this for all sections of the blueprint, and after couple of weeks you will have covered the entire blueprint.
- The next step is to create scenarios that involve most of the blueprint so it will look like the actual lab exam. Again, you can use the 3 to 4 hour time slot to practice; however, I suggest you take a 8-hour slot when you get close to take the exam.