CCIE study report #1 Nov-Dec 2020

Here you have the first monthly report of the CCIE journey, I will share inside some challenges or findings for that specific month as well as other thoughts to show what’s going on.

Inside you can find also what materials I used for the month and some other recommendations.


  1. Initial thoughts
  2. Tools for assessment
  3. Theory/Design topics covered
  4. Lab topics
  5. Materials used / Mentors: Orhan Ergun
  6. Tips / Lessons learnt during the first month
  7. Points to improve
  8. Conclusion

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
Leo Tolstoy

  1. Initial thoughts

My original plan was to find a way to invest 30h a week to study, having a 40h a week job included in the pack is an extra difficulty as I cannot study during my working time so I made the plan considering that I won’t have a single minute to study 9 to 5 p.m working.

I started to wake up at 7 a.m which gives me aprox. 2h every day before work, and then find my way after work to invest another 2 to 3h would make it through the week regarding the 30h goal.

That worked most of the days, 7 a.m is a very quiet time that let me focus on reading topics so usually during early mornings I was reading CCIE recommended books.

Typically, after work I would do labs practice about different topics; normally related with whatever topic was studying in the early morning. I set at least 1,5-2h a day to do some kind of lab practice. Labs are very important to help information stay longer in your mind.

This is a key factor, really important to do it yourself. It’s okay to check a configuration guide for the first few times, then later try to config most of without looking at the guide. It just works for building your practice in typing and thinking how to config.

According to my excel report I studied around 130h during December 2020, which is quite a number. Almost scary number, I hope I can keep up the pace for the whole year.

  1. Tools for assessment

I’m using a simple excel file to track every hour of my study time, what was the study topic during the study time or if it was lab practice time.

Cisco already made it for you here in excel format: Cisco CCIE EI excel tracker

Grab it from there to start! Then add extra tabs as you need. Myself for example I added extra tabs to track the books that I’m reading, the labs topics and the total cost of the journey for example.

It could look as overkill to take note of everything you do, but looking now that I have a historic of where I invested my study time it is a interesting view.

Another tool that’s is number 2 after Excel is my OneNote app, I use it on pc most of the time when I’m studying. I take my own notes from books, seminars I join, YouTube videos, live trainings…

  1. Theory/Design topics covered

I spend time with L2, EIGRP, OSPF, BGP, VPNs and MPLS. Some topics where revised several times in different days.

I was familiar with most of the topics, but stayed with them and go deep following several books to find stuff I was unsure about. I found many things I had no idea.

Still didn’t touch much Automation or programmability part of the exam.

  1. Lab topics

I’m following Orhan Ergun(see next section for a short review) excellent labs and during December I did the L2 lab, the EIGRP lab, the OSPF lab, the VPN lab, the BGP lab and the MPLS lab.

As a rule of thumb, I did the labs several times. First I checked the solution and why is configured like that and then I configured it manually.(no copy pastes)

Later I tried to do it without looking, and checking the answers or doing debug/tshoot as necessary. Eventually I did them without looking the solution as I got more practice with each one.

After finishing them, I stayed a few hours breaking them. Filter list, prefix list, as-path-set or adding 30 loopbacks and playing with summarization as an instance.

  1. Materials used / Mentors: Orhan Ergun

I purchased the CCIE EI live training with Orhan Ergun during October 2020, so for around two months I assisted during the weekends to 8h each weekend live sessions divided between theory, design and lab practice. It was during October till beginning of December.

Each week was a big topic, so I put some time in every week to come as prepared as possible for the Saturday theory/design discussion from which I took many notes in my OneNote.

Totally worth it, I’m very interested also in design and he tries to teach you the design mindset.

You will have to study hard if you want to keep up the pace, Orhan is very passionate and will push you to study and to improve yourself.

Labs were included in this training as well as recorded videos in the webpage that helps to review the topics. Labs are big and they go deep, which is an extra.

We have also a Skype group to ask questions with a few hundred people, so another extra.

Another good thing? I can join again the same training for free in a few months to review and see the improvement of these study months. Value/cost is a very good choice I have to say.

I’m using also O’reilly( book subscription which gave me access to all the books one can dream of.

December finished books:

    • CCNP CCIE ENCOR (About 15h to finish, I’ll say 6/10 useful for CCIE)
    • ROUTING TCP/IP Vol.I (About 16h to finish. Great book overall. Must read for CCIE)
    • CCIE RS v5 VOL.I (More than 22h to finish.Great book also recommended for CCIE, must read)
  1. Tips / Lessons learnt during the first month
  • If you are living with your family/wife/partner, discuss your study hours and reach an agreement. This is a big issue for me and lead to some fights regarding study time.
  • If you decide to invest money in a course/mentor, study. Read it again: Study. You are wasting money if you only go to watch, memory fades and you will forget.
  • Keep a track in an excel file, it really helps to see the path after some time and helps you keep track to what it needs to be refreshed.
  • Be flexible, somedays you have to stop your scheduled study session to help at home or to spend a little extra time with your significant other; but try to get to your weekly goal.
  • There are topics that they are more difficult to understand than others, insist until you understand. You have blogs, videos and many other free resources to get another view.
  • Some days you won’t want to read, then watch a video about the topic or a tshoot video. All little things help. Change topics for a while to rest.
  1. Points to improve

The information that I read/studied at the beginning of December is not that fresh now, memory fades and I need repetition. I didn’t do much repetition in regards to the theory and design, I did with the lab practices though.

I will put next month extra time to prepare my own Anki decks to keep the memory fresh.

There are simply to many topics and small details to remember. Thankfully I took many notes on the way, so that helps for the review.

Another room for improvement is to try to contribute more in Twitter and LinkedIn to start getting more networking.

Procrastination / waste of time: I noticed a tendency to waste time and procrastinate the study sessions after a month in the grind. Have to improve that part next month.

  1. Conclusion

November-December was a first difficult period, but I keep pushing it. I’m planning first CCIE EI attempt during Q1 2022 so still a year to go nuts and do some labs.

I will be posting monthly updates to have a track of what I’m doing and hopefully to help others to get some ideas.

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