Strategy and Trouble Spots
Keep in mind that this IS an expert-level exam, so there are certain expectations of a candidate’s preparedness that are made by test creators. You need to start with time management. Even more so than the written exam, with 8 fun-filled hours, you need to remain in control.
First, you get hit with Troubleshooting, which can be from 1.5 to 2.5 hours in length. (Two hours as the established target.) You will have roughly 10-ish trouble tickets to manage. It will be a large (30+ device) topology. So your time will be reviewing the ticket, quickly looking at the topology, and hazarding a starting point to look through the devices. Know your show commands! Show run may be helpful but likely will not magically solve things for you. Also remember that the results are based on FIXING a problem, not avoiding or removing it!
With the Diagnostic section, that is a fixed timeframe, so you have 30 minutes to read through things and determine your troubleshooting prowess and next-step information. Do not rush this because the time is fixed. Relax, gather your thoughts, and visualize what you would do if this were a real-world problem. Use this time to clear your brain as well. Even if you didn’t do as well as you liked in the Troubleshooting section, put it behind you. No distractions are needed.
When you get to the Configuration section, again, time management is important. It is geared to be a 5.5-hour exam section. You may have anywhere from 5 to 6 hours depending on how your Troubleshooting portion went! The baseline configuration is already done, so you are adding things in. Read the entire exam first! Before you type ANYTHING! Get the network in your head, as well as a plan for how to get through things. There is no prescribed order of attack, so if the first task on paper is something you don’t know very well.... Well.... Don’t do it! No sense starting out hurting!
Do things you know first. Do things you think you know second. Do things you don’t know as well last. Again, there will be a large topology to play with. This should be easier to isolate issues than in previous versions of the CCIE R&S Lab exam. Use this to your advantage, and think through each task and what the effect will be.
Use your show and/or debug commands to test AS YOU GO. Do NOT wait until there is only 15 minutes left to discover you have a basic routing issue that causes your entire lab to not function. (Or you’ll be back! ☺)
Also, when something isn’t working correctly, set a time limit on your troubleshooting: 10‒15 minutes tops. Then move on to something else and come back to it. Stepping away, taking a break, and clearing your mind will work wonders on your ability to see basic problems and fix them. Take breaks as well! Quick ones, but a meaningful respite from staring at the screen hour after hour!
Grading is results-based, so your testing step-by-step will be valuable in obtaining your points.