Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Written Study Materials

Well I have been threatening to type up a post on what I used to prepare for my written for a while so here goes.

I consider my written study to have begun when I started working on my CCNP at the beginning of 2007. I think the CCNP course is a great building block for moving onto the CCIE and I would recommend following the certification pyramid to anyone who was new to the industry. I would also caution you not to rush through the exams no matter how tempting it may be to achieve your CCNP. Anyhow I digress, the material in the BSCI and BCMSN courses is especially relevant to the CCIE written and the CCIE lab in my opinion.

So the books I used for it where
Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (BSCI): Authorized Self-study Guide (CCNP Self-study) This is my opinion is a great book and a really enjoyable read. I see a lot of people using the Certification Guide instead of this book because the Cert Guide is much thinner and so they will finish quicker :-) However if you are new to the topics I would recommend this book rather than the Certification Guide. I read this book cover to cover and tried out all the labs inside as well.

Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks (BCMSN) (Authorized Self-study Guide) I found this book really hard going it was not easy to read and did not seem to flow to me. This book was a real struggle to get through and it took me ages to finish. I was not keen on this book at the time but as time has passed my feelings towards it have mellowed. It has some really good information in it that applies to real life as well as certification exams. Also it is listed in the additional reading sections of the CCIE Written Certification Guide. I read the book cover to cover but did not manage to try out all the labs due to equipment restraints.

CCNP BCMSN Official Exam Certification Guide (CCNP Self-Study) I read this book cover to cover as well to try and make sense of some of the stuff in the Self -Study guide. This book was a lot easier to follow, however for the BCMSN exam it is a bit light in certain areas.

I also read the other CCNP Certification Guides and although they had some useful stuff for the CCIE Written like QoS and a few security topics the information presented in them can easily be found in other places. For their relevant CCNP exams they are still must read books. For the BSCI and BCMSN I also used the self study products from thebryantadvantage not the Trainsignal stuff just the study packages. I found the package for BSCI to be really good and it helped me a lot with BSCI. The package for BCMSN was not as good in my opinion but then the exam is also a bit random so I am sure it is pretty hard to come up with a training package for it.

I got a bit of a taste for QoS from the ONT exam and wanted to know more so I moved on to reading the Cisco QOS: Exam Certification Guide cover to cover. There are appendixes on the CD for people moving on to the CCIE that detail Frame Relay traffic shaping amongst other things. I absolutely loved this book and in my opinion this is required reading for the CCIE. The QoS exam was also very enjoyable by the way, it was second only to my recent CCNA exam in terms of being a good exam not full of stupid questions.

Then I decided to get a vendor neutral view on things and I read Interconnections: Bridges and Routers. I read the whole thing apart from one chapter, you can look on the Internetwork Expert website and find which chapter(s) they recommend you can skip. I did find this book really hard going in parts but I do feel that I gained a lot of of the book. I understand a lot more of the history of the protocols and have a much better grasp on how they really function. I even found out about the differences in the different bridging technologies which I did not know about before.

Next I moved on to TCP/IP Illustrated: Protocols v. 1 but I did not get too many chapters into it before I abandoned it for Internetworking with TCP/IP: v. 1. Internetworking is another great book in my opinion, and it reinforced a lot of things I already knew with a lot more understanding of how things work. I found this book a really easy read and loved every page.

Then it was on to Network Warrior which is a great little book. I read the whole thing except for some chapters on telephony that I plan to revisit soon. Unless you are a seriously experienced consultant then I would recommend this is a great book to pick up for everyone else. This is a real on the job book and it is a great read.

You would think I would be all booked out by now however the next one in the list was Routing TCP/IP Volume 1 Second Edition. This is on most people's must read list for the CCIE and I understand why. It was a great read and I read the whole thing except for the IS-IS chapter. I would say this is a must read book.

Internet Routing Architectures Second Edition was next on the bedtime stories list. The book is divided into two sections with the theory stuff covered in the first half and the configuration in the last half. I think I made a mistake in reading it straight through instead of reading the theory and then reading the corresponding configuration section. Still a really good book on BGP which helped me a lot.

Finally it was on to CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide which I loved. I read everything except the two chapters on QoS. This book is an obvious must for the written exam and is great for reinforcing all the knowledge that you will have picked up from the other books.
So that was my reading list there were other books in there that deserve honorable mentions such as Routing TCP/IP Volume 2, Troubleshoot IP Routing Protocols, the two CCIE Practical Study Books and various other vendor neutral and Cisco Press books. I read a couple of RFC's as well (ouch) and various documents on the Cisco website.

As well as books I viewed a lot of CBT's (I would highly recommend CBT Nuggets for Professional Level Material, I did not have all of them for the CCNP as some were released after I had done the exams but the stuff I did have was excellent) and completed the whole of the first week of Internetork Expert's excellent Advanced Technologies class. I also completed all their Volume 1 labs on the various routing protocols.

For final exam prep on all my previous IT Exams I used Self Test Software which I have always found to be excellent. They are basically Transcender exams with a few less questions and for less money. I would highly recommended Self Test however they did not have a product for the CCIE.

So I turned to NetMasterClass and their excellent CCIE Written Practice Exam. I must say that this is an excellent product and is a must have for anyone wishing to pass the CCIE Written Exam. I would not have passed the written if it was not for this product.

So that is it all the products that I pretty much used to prepare for the written (Apologies if this looks like a marketing post I assure you I used the lot and bought them all out of my own money). Of two new products (IPExpert CoD and CCIE Command Memorizer) I have used since passing the written, I would say the CCIE Command Memorizer would be a great help to preparing for the written.


Nickelby said...

Great post! I have yet to pass my written so it is a motivation to read how other people succeeded in the written.

I am too using the CCIE Command Memorizer. It's a cool product :-).

Good luck with your preparations for the lab bro!

The Ferret said...

Thanks Nickelby and thanks for pointing out that Mike Down is back online. The Command Memorizer will help you a lot on the written in my opinion and on the lab to.

Knowing where to start on the lab prep at the moment seems my problem.

Anyhow good luck for the written.

Anonymous said...

Nice Post!! I am actually thinking of taking the CCIE Boot Camp at Unitek, has anyone heard anything about this school. Here is the link just incase anyone else is looking for a CCIE course.

Mark G.