Thursday, February 5, 2009

How I passed the CCIE R/S exam

I spent 21 months studying for the CCIE written and lab combined, 19 months of that was spent studying for the lab itself.  During the first quarter of my lab preparation I spent countless hours reading every book and resource I was recommended.  My knowledge of the technologies increased exponentially in a very short period of time.  This led to what I believe is the greatest problem CCIE candidates will experience.


I found that after a year and a half of studying I was basically kidding myself about what I knew and didn’t…  For example, if I had a question:

“Send an SMTP trap to if MAC address 1234.1234.1234 is added to the CAM table.” I would answer it, but I might forget one tiny part, but then when I reviewed it I would say to myself, “oh, well I forgot that part just because this was a test lab, in the real lab I would be more careful.”  But in reality, in the real lab the stress would probably make me forget even more!  Additionally, my colleagues looked up to me as if I were all-knowing, furthering my delusion.


After my second attempt my studying changed purposes.  The main purpose of doing practice labs and watching the CODs was to find the holes in my knowledge.  If I ever missed even a tiny part I would not gloss over that or tell myself it will be OK next time; I would immediately tag that question, and at the end of the lab I would take every question that I missed and turn it into an ALU, an autonomous learning unit.  By that I mean a self-standing question that will fully test that concept or technology without requiring much else in a lab.  I would then make flash cards out of those ALUs.  And every week I would go through the stack of cards and do each one, and if I made even the tiniest mistake I would put a mark on the card saying this was one I was having problems with, and would do it again later that day, then the next day.


I based my method on the Leitner Spaced Repetition method of learning.  It basically it says that to efficiently form long term memories you need to learn something many times, spaced by an exponentially increasing amount of time…  So if I have a card that keeps stumping me I would learn it now, then in an hour, then tomorrow, then again in three days, then in a week, then in a month, and so forth.  If at any time you don’t get it right you start back from the first step so you are learning it more frequently.


Over the next few months I will be posting all of my ALUs on this blog to hopefully help other folks who are preparing for their CCIE.


If any of my ALUs help you, please let me know, I would love to hear success stories!




  1. Great information. I liked the description of the study method and ALU. It is a new concept for me and definitely something I will try right away. I'm working on my CCNP Switch exam right now.

  2. Really I enjoy your site with effective and useful information. It is included very nice post with a lot of our resources.thanks for share. i enjoy this post. RSMSSB Patwari Admit card 2021