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Preparation Hints

From an overall preparation and strategy point of view, you need to look at the VAST overlap between the CCIEv5 Written Blueprint and Lab Blueprint. This is not a coincidence. This means that you should keep this in mind as you prepare. Prepare for both exams at the same time.

A good study plan will involve a mixture of modalities (methods of information input) such as reading, watching videos, taking courses, and doing hands-on work. The hands-on part is obviously more critical to the Lab Exam preparation, but if your Written Exam question contains output from a show command that you have never even heard of, it may become difficult to answer.

In Experiential Learning, the adage of See One, Do One, Teach One may well help in preparation for these exams. They are expert-level exams, and although you will be taking your test individually, I would recommend having a study partner or study group to maximize your efficiency of studying. Although you don’t need to be a formal classroom instructor to teach, the idea of presenting a subject to others is equally valuable. It may take that pressure/exposure to realize whether you truly know a subject.

The IOS documentation on Cisco.com will be available to you during the exam. I would highly recommend using this as part of your studying because quickly finding the material is important in your time management. With this in mind, as you study, one good method for the documentation is to take an entire lab that you have already done (so you know the answers already), and pretend that you don’t know any of the answers and have to look things up.

This can force you to look things up and become familiar with the docs. Because you’ve already completed whatever lab you are working on, and know the answers, you will know when you finally find the right section of the docs that you would need. This will be a slow method, so it may be frustrating, but it is valuable time spent.

Use the newly expanded blueprint as a technology checklist in your studying. Keep a notebook to track your progress and new and exciting things you have learned in your studies. Take time to transpose your notebook into a computer file. It is important to keep a written log and a tech-based one. (For example, don’t take notes on your iPad!) The method of repetition and different parts of your brain that are engaged in each of these can help cement the information in your head. And if your handwriting is anything like mine, you won’t be able to read it for long anyway!

When starting, learn technology by technology. THEN look at putting things together and studying the interaction. There is no race. When I was preparing for my first CCIE, it took the better part of a year, and with enough hours to rival that of a full-time job. (Of course, it was on top of my full-time job that I had to work things in!)

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