Certification Guides

I’m aiming to sit my CCIE written at the end of June.  That’s less than 6 weeks away.

It may seem crazy, but I finally opened the CCIE Routing and Switching Certification Guide this weekend….and realized I was correct.

Correct about what, you ask?  Well, I decided to take a different approach in tackling this exam.  Instead of reading certification guides, I decided to read books on each particular topic.  When I finally opened the Certification Guide, it felt like I was reading a Cliff’s Note version of the books I had already been reading.

I think the guide will serve great as a review or as a reference.  But if you are using it as your primary source of information, you are seriously cheating yourself.  I’ve heard it said many times that the journey itself is more important than reaching the destination.  This is especially true with this exam.

So I urge you to read, read, and read some more.

Now, I do realize that I have favorable circumstances that allow me an extra amount of time to study.  For example, I have a 2 hour round-trip commute to work on the train.  That’s a lot of reading time.  In fact, I purposely take the “scenic” route because I know I am productive during these hours.  Sometimes, you have to make time.  Watch one less tv show per week…or cut some websites out of your daily browsing habits.  Use timeboxing plugins if you have to.

There are so many avenues we can use to research a topic: blogs, cisco.com, ccie mailing lists, forums, wiki, videos, RFC’s, white papers, ad naseum.  In a perfect world with no deadlines or time constraints,  a combination of all of the above would be optimal.  But we don’t live in a perfect world.

The best bang for your time are books.

(Labbing and experience are a discussion for the CCIE lab, so I’ve purposely avoided mentioning them.)

Two books I just finished reading are Internet Routing Architectures and Developing IP Multicast Networks.

I highly recommend them.  They both share a “light”, easy reading style that makes them extremely accessible.

I’m also almost through with INE workbook 1.  A more thorough review is forthcoming, but I’m sure everyone already knows how awesome their workbooks are.  The labs run perfectly with my Dynamips home lab.

Up next are QoS and IPv6 deployment books.  I have minimal interest in both topics, but I had zero interest in multicast before starting Developing.., and I really enjoyed learning about it.

I’m hoping the books will do the same for me with these two topics.

And I hope this post will encourage you to open a book of your own.

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