CCIE Pursuit Blog

September 2, 2007

What’s Up DOC?

I came across this article that Scott Morris wrote for  It’s from 2005, so it is a little dated, but well worth reading.  I encourage you to read the entire article, but I wanted to repost part of the article that deals with the importance of knowing how to use the Documentation CD during the exam:

What’s Up DOC? 

The Documentation CD is your friend. It’s the only reference you’ll have available during the lab, so you had best know it well!

Let me share with you a little anecdote. Back in 1999, when I was studying for the Routing and Switching lab, I went through all of these steps. I played with everything, I studied and labbed it all up! My goal was to practice on labs more bizarre than the actual test lab would be so that I could know everything possible and be one of the few who passed on the first try.

That was the goal anyway! And, I studied a lot to get there. Well, needless to say, they came up with something on the lab that I hadn’t thought about. Right then and there, that messed up my game a bit. Also, I’m one of those people who’ll beat something to death in troubleshooting until I figure it out. A great habit in real life, not so good under the time pressure of the lab!

They threw the kitchen sink at me, but I figured it out. However, I ate up a lot of time in the process, and I was unable to finish the whole exam because my bad management of time. Not cool.

Between my first and second attempts, I didn’t touch a router. The only thing I did was become more familiar with the Doc CD. By the time my second attempt came around, there were some things on the test I hadn’t thought about (they’re good at that!). But instead of blindly stabbing away at it, I took a more methodical approach with the Documentation CD and found answers faster. On this second attempt, I even finished the exam early—so early, in fact, it scared me! Fortunately, this time, I was successful.

So, remember, you have to have a strategy about how you’ll handle things and stick to it. Time management is a critical: Every minute you spend idling away or typing uselessly is 1/480 of your test, and it’ll go by fast!

Realizing this will also help you with answering, “How much of everything do I need to know? How can I memorize that much?” The answer is don’t memorize. Learn it. Once you know the basics, you can look up the details. If you know the basics, and you are familiar with the Doc CD, you’ll have plenty of time to fill in the blanks. Personally, I try not to memorize things, because commands may change from version to version of IOS. But conceptually, I know what I’m looking for so the details can be found in the Doc CD. In the very unfortunate case you don’t have a clue about something on the test, you can find out about it on the Doc CD: It covers everything on the test. Just be careful how much time you spend on it!


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