Well I've got some great news from yesterday, I passed the CCIE Routing and Switching written exam on the first attempt! I spent pretty much the entire past month constantly reading whenever I had the chance, including most of my free time on the weekends, and it paid off!
I have to say though, about a third of the way through the exam I felt like I was bombarded with these strange L2 switching troubleshooting scenarios, and was sure I wasn't going to pass. I kept reminding myself to keep pounding through it though, and it worked. I was a bit surprised with the range of question topics, as I was expecting questions about several other protocols/configurations that were never asked.
Overall it was a decent test, but there were a few questions based on images that were so small and low quality that the text in them was incomprehensible. Fortunately, those questions didn't really focus on the image text and more so about the topology.
To study for the exam I used the following materials:
- INE Written Bootcamp Class-on-Demand
- Routing TCP/IP Vol. 1, by Jeff Doyle and Jennifer Carroll
- CCIE R&S Exam Certification Guide 4th Edition, by Wendell Odom
- CCIE RS Short Notes, by Ruhann du Plessis (http://routing-bits.com/ccie-rs-short-notes-v4/)
To rate the effectiveness of each, I would have to give Wendell Odom's 4th Edition Exam Certification Guide and the CCIE RS Short Notes by Ruhann the best bang for the buck. Wendell's guide had particularly great detailed explanations of OSPF, EIGRP, and Multicast. Ruhann's Short Notes also provided an excellent quick reference guide for everything as well, and is very reasonably priced. Jeff Doyle's Routing TCP/IP Vol. 1 has a great explanation of IPv6 and lots of background information, but also a lot of extra information not needed for the exam (definitely not bad to have the extra, useful information, but if you're in a rush, it's not the best use of time). No content on switching in Doyle's book either, which there were quite a few switching questions on the exam (not that that is a pitfall about the book). INE's CoD material I have to rate not-so-great as it just covers the broad basics of all the technologies in the blueprint, and at $300+ with a 30% discount is not that great of a deal. Most of the exam questions were beyond the scope of INE's CoD.
Now that the Written exam is complete, I have 18 months to get my Lab attempt in, hopefully much sooner than that. My next goal is to have my first Lab attempt in 6-8 months. Based off of a few friends who have their CCIE numbers already, they recommended the INE workbooks, and is what I plan on using in the upcoming months to prepare. A buddy of mine said that he practiced their workbooks for 3 months straight, knew them front and back, and passed the Lab on his first attempt. I won't have the time to study that much in 3 months as he did, but 6 months I believe is a reasonable goal.