CCIE Pursuit Blog

August 4, 2009

Cisco Announces CCIE v4.0 Written Beta

Cisco has announced the beta exam for the new CCIE v4.0 exam.  For the reduced price of $50, this is a good opportunity for recertification for those with their digits or for those who may not have already taken the written exam and are studying for the new version of the lab.

Beta Available for CCIE Routing and Switching v4.0 Written Exam

The beta version of CCIE Routing and Switching Written Exam v4.0 (351-001) will be available for scheduling at all worldwide, Cisco-authorized Pearson VUE testing centers beginning August 11, 2009 and continuing through September 9, 2009. Candidates may schedule and take the exam on the same day. The beta exam will be offered at a discounted price of US$50, with full recertification or lab qualification credit granted to all passing candidates. Candidates preparing for this exam should refer to CCIE Routing and Switching 4.0 written exam topics for a detailed outline of topics covered. Registration on the Cisco Learning Network is required.

Click here for more information about CCIE written exam betas.

Reminders: Candidates will receive their results six to eight weeks after the close of the beta period. Therefore, CCIEs in suspended status with an expiration date before November 30, 2009 should recertify using another exam. Candidates may only attempt a beta exam once during the beta period.

March 13, 2008

CCIE Written Exam Passed

I FINALLY took my CCIE Routing and Switching written exam today.  I had put off taking the exam for so long (I think that my original planned date was in July of last year).  Since I’ve been spending a minimal amount of time on the CLI as I review the IEATC lessons again, I figured that this was a good time to get the written out of the way.  I scheduled the test for noon today and took the day off of work.

I spent about 6 hours last night, and another 3 this morning reviewing my IEATC notes and going over some stuff in the CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide (3rd Edition).  This is the least amount of time I’ve ever studied for a certification exam.  Except that it’s not.  I consider the fact that I have been studying for the lab for nearly a year (can it really be that long?) to be studying for the written by proxy.

Since Vue is now the only testing center that Cisco uses and because I now live 30 miles from the nearest testing center; I had to take the test at an unfamiliar test center and I got lost.  I had Googled the location and printed out the map before I left.  I thought it a bit odd that the center was south of where I thought that it should be, but who am I to question Google?  I ended up having to call the center and a very nice young lady played GPS for me.  I was about 10 minutes late and a little flustered by the time I got to the center.  I was silently cursing Google maps.  As it turned out, I had cut and pasted the address into Google maps, but only the last line containing the suburb and the zip code had survived that procedure.  So Google directed me to the middle of Golden Valley as it was instructed.  I was in too much of a hurry to get out the door to notice.  ID10T error.  🙂

The testing center consisted of a single PC on a round table in a small room.  Sweet!  No other candidates to bother me and I had a ton of space.  They also gave me a 2 foot by 2 foot white board and a marker (not dry erase) and eraser.  This was much better than the grease pencil and laminated paper I was used to getting.  Plus if I bombed the test I could still get high off of the marker fumes.

I took a deep breath and started the exam.  And I mean STARTED the exam.  I’m used to answering a long questionnaire before Cisco exams.  This exam asked me if I was 18 or older and then presented the EULA/NDA.  That was it.  It took me a second or two to realize that I was looking at the first question and that time was ticking away.

The exam consists of 100 questions and you have 2 hours to complete them.  Although this is subject to change, the passing score is 70 points (this was on the screen right before I started the exam).  The biggest difference between the CCIE written exam and other Cisco certification exams is that you can mark questions for review and you can go back to previous questions.  This saved my bacon on a couple of questions as I was able to remember/reverse-engineer information that helped on a previous question.  At the end of the exam you are able to go back to any question and see the ones that you’ve marked for review before submitting the exam for grading.

The test was moderately tough, but ultimately fair.  The one area that I was worried about was MPLS.  I had spent some time studying MPLS a few months ago (before one of my many rescheduled written attempts) but I only retained a little of that knowledge.  The exam tests you on MPLS theory only so I did okay (83%) on that section.  The section that absolutely slayed me was Multicast.  This really is not a surprise as it is by far my weakest section in the lab as well.  It was my worst section at 50%.

Otherwise I feel like any lab candidate should be able to do well on this exam.  The questions were mostly straight-forward with the occasional out-of-left-field question that I have come to expect from Cisco.  There seem to be an equal number of flat-out easy questions to compensate for these oddities though.  I scored an 86 which is halfway between passing and acing the test.  During the test I kept track of the questions that I was not sure about and I came up with 21, so I did about 7 points better than I expected.

One thing that did bother me (and I’ll try to tiptoe around the NDA here) is that there were a number of questions about one technology (and only that one technology) that referred to the different variations of said technology by their IEEE names.  I was pretty pissed off about this as I though that this was a level of obfuscation too far.  The ability to review questions helped with these questions (there were at least five) as a later question served as a Rosetta Stone for one of the technologies and I must have guessed correctly on the others because I did well in the section.

I found myself thinking about one of Kevin Dorrell’s recent posts while encountering some of the questions.  There were a couple of questions that the wrong answers could be stripped away with simple logic.  I had one question that asked you to find the true statement about a technology that I only (barely) knew what its acronym stood for.  Fortunately, “p” and “not p” were both present in the answers so it had to be one of those two.  One of the answers serverly limited the capabilities of a Cisco proprietary feature, so I chose the one that said it could move mountains.  A quick DOCCD search at home verifies that I chose the correct answer.

The written is just a ticket to the big dance that is the CCIE lab.  In the lab I’m not going to be able to use test taking strategies to suss out answers.  Still, it’s nice to have this step out of the way so that I can consider myself a true CCIE candidate at long last.

It’s an amazing March day (for Minnesota at least) today.  It’s 52 degrees (Fahrenheit – about 11 degrees Celsius) and I have the rest of the day off.  One of our cats just brought a giant Garter snake into the house.  It must have dug the snake out of its hibernation hole.  I’d better put it back outside again before it warms up and kicks my cat’s ass.  🙂  Then I’m off to enjoy the weather.

November 3, 2007

Cisco Technical Knowledge Library and CCIE Exam Guide 3rd Edition

My brief vacation is over [sigh] and I’m starting the slow process of catching up with work over the weekend so that it does not bite me in the ass on Monday.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide – 3rd Edition is now available on our Cisco Technical Knowledge Library:

Title: CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide – 3rd Edition   
Date: 2007.11.01
Duration: 1221 pages
Level: Professional 

What the hell is the Cisco Technical Knowledge Library?  Good question:

Cisco Advanced Services
Technical Knowledge Library

The Technical Knowledge Library contains a wealth of content centered on Cisco products and technologies.

Content in the Technical Knowledge Library includes a catalog of Cisco Advanced Services job aids, whitepapers, and video on demand; self-study resources such as Cisco Press books and Networkers Online; and content developed for your company by Advanced Services.

The Technical Knowledge Library is offered to you based on your organization’s service contracts with Cisco Advanced Services. Use of this content is governed by contractual agreements between your company and Cisco Systems, Inc. Content may not be reproduced, shared, or distributed to unauthorized users. If you have questions about approved use of Technical Knowledge Library content, please contact your Cisco account team.

I guess that my employer pays enough cash to Cisco to rate free Cisco Press PDF and training classes.  There are a number of good courses available.  My favorite feature is all of the training sessions from Networkers are recorded and available on this server.

Now to get cracking on those 1221 pages.  🙂

October 10, 2007

Trying To Schedule Written Exam With Pearson VUE

Cisco recently decided to use Pearson VUE as their exclusive testing center.  I’ve used Prometric for every certification test I’ve ever taken, so this was my first time using Pearson VUE.  Or so I thought…I actually signed up for the CWNA (Certified Wireless Network Administrator) back in 2005, but never took the test.  I actually put the wrong date in my calendar and was a “no show”.  This cost me a couple of hundred dollars and the embarrassment of showing up on the wrong date.  I never did take that exam.  The good news is that I did have an old login for VUE, so I was able to get in and update my information and then schedule my CCIE written exam…..or not.

It turns out that you need to apply for the ability to schedule Cisco exams (strangely I was only able to schedule Microsoft exams – I haven’t taken a Microsoft test in 7 years).  I put in my Cisco ID and some other information and clicked “submit”:

Additional Information
Your request to add Cisco Systems, Inc. has been forwarded to our Testing Program team. If you provided a valid email address, we will notify you when your request has been processed. This typically occurs within one business day. You can also return to this site and check if Cisco Systems, Inc. has been added to your list of Testing Programs.

Thank you for your interest in Cisco Systems, Inc.

So it looks like I will be scheduling my written exam tomorrow.  🙂

October 6, 2007

How Uplinkfast Affects Spanning-Tree Port Cost

Read a book….learn something new.  🙂

I don’t muck with “spanning-tree uplinkfast” much and I’ve never considered how it does its magic.  After applying this command the switch’s priority will shoot up to 49,152 + sys-id-ext and will add 3000 to the existing STP port costs:

Before [note: this switch is connected to the root switch]:
sw2(config)#do sh sp v 1

  Spanning tree enabled protocol ieee
  Root ID    Priority    24577
             Address     0012.018f.d580
             Cost        19
             Port        15 (FastEthernet0/13)
             Hello Time   2 sec  Max Age 20 sec  Forward Delay 15 sec

  Bridge ID  Priority    32769  (priority 32768 sys-id-ext 1)
             Address     0012.009c.ca00
             Hello Time   2 sec  Max Age 20 sec  Forward Delay 15 sec
             Aging Time 15

Interface        Role Sts Cost      Prio.Nbr Type
—————- —- — ——— ——– ——————————–
Fa0/13           Root FWD 19        128.15   P2p
Fa0/14           Altn BLK 19        128.16   P2p
Fa0/15           Altn BLK 19        128.17   P2p

sw2(config)#span uplinkfast
sw2(config)#do sh sp vlan 1

  Spanning tree enabled protocol ieee
  Root ID    Priority    24577
             Address     0012.018f.d580
             Cost        3019
             Port        15 (FastEthernet0/13)
             Hello Time   2 sec  Max Age 20 sec  Forward Delay 15 sec

  Bridge ID  Priority    49153  (priority 49152 sys-id-ext 1)
             Address     0012.009c.ca00
             Hello Time   2 sec  Max Age 20 sec  Forward Delay 15 sec
             Aging Time 300
  Uplinkfast enabled

Interface        Role Sts Cost      Prio.Nbr Type
—————- —- — ——— ——– ——————————–
Fa0/13           Root FWD 3019      128.15   P2p
Fa0/14           Altn BLK 3019      128.16   P2p
Fa0/15           Altn BLK 3019      128.17   P2p

The rational behind this is that the high priority value will make it unlikely that the switch will become a root.  The high STP port costs will make it unlikely that the switch will become a transit switch (a switch that forwards frames between other switches).  That way if one of the uplinks fails the switch can quickly switch to another uplink with little chance of causing a loop.

October 2, 2007

New Cisco Press CCIE Writen Exam Guide Available 05 November

I’ve been putting off seriously studying for the Routing and Switching CCIE written exam for a number of reasons.  One of those reasons is that the exam was updated this summer to version 3 and the Cisco Press exam guide for the new version has not yet been released.  It looks like CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide, 3rd Edition will be released on 05 November.

I want to pass the written before that time (I was planning on taking it last month, but I procrastinated) so I won’t be using the new book.  As I stated in my status update posting this week, I will be using the old (2nd edition) version and studying the new items on the blueprint from the Cisco DOC.

September 25, 2007

Free IPv6 Video

Cisco Blog is offering a free IPv6 training video:

TCP/IPv6 is going to reshape the networking world completely. We all know “it’s coming” (insert creepy music here), but no one really wants to learn it. So, what I tried to do is record video that was simple enough to follow, yet technical enough to give you some practical information to take away. My good friends over at CBTNuggets have agreed to allow me to reproduce that video here at no cost to you. It’s from the new Cisco BSCI series.


Click here to download  (Microsoft WMV format)

I haven’t viewed it yet, but I have seen some of the CBTNugget videos in the past and they are tight.  With this video and the free IPv6 vSeminar this week from Internetwork Expert, you can get some good IPv6 training for free this week.

September 10, 2007

CCIE Lab Price Increase – $1250 to $1400

Filed under: CCIE Written,Cisco,Cisco Certification — cciepursuit @ 11:04 am

It looks like Cisco is increasing the cost of the CCIE lab from $1250 to $1400 ($US).  The Cisco CCIE homepage doesn’t have this information, and I didn’t get an email from Cisco – BUT there have been some forum postings as well as some Cisco webpages and emails that confirm the price increase.  The price increase is effective 07 September, 2007 and is not limited to the CCIE lab exam.  It looks like all of the Cisco exams are increasing in price.  For potential CCIE candidates, this means you’ll pay an extra $15 ($300 increased to $315) for the written exam as well as the extra $150 for the lab.

Here’s a breakdown of the new pricing structure along with a FAQ:

Frequently Asked Questions: New Prices for Cisco Certification Exams

What are the new prices for Cisco certification exams?

Cisco has announced new prices for the following certification exams, effective September 7, 2007. All prices are shown in U.S. dollars:

Cisco Certification Exam Price Countries
CCIE Written Exam $315 Worldwide
CCIE Lab Exam $1400 Worldwide
ICND 1 and ICND 2 Exams* $125 Worldwide
CCNA Composite (640-801 & 640-802) $150 United States, Canada, Puerto Rico
CCNA Composite (640-801 & 640-802) $175 Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
CCNP and CCDP Composite $225 United States, Canada, Puerto Rico
CCNP and CCDP Composite $250 Switzerland

Table 1. Price changes for Cisco certification exam fees, effective September 7, 2007.
*The ICND 1 and ICND 2 exams replace the Introduction to Cisco Networking Technologies (INTRO) and Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices (ICND) exams, which will be retired November 6, 2007.

For more information, a complete list of Pearson VUE customer service phone numbers is available at

How will these price changes affect Cisco Networking Academy students?
Cisco will increase the discount voucher rate for Networking Academy students in the targeted countries to offset the price increase for the following exams:
 CCNA Composite 640-801 and 640-802
Cisco will not provide discount vouchers for the CCNP, CCDP, or CCIE exams.

Will Networking Academy students have access to the retired versions of the INTRO (640-821), ICND (640-811), and CCNA (640-801) exams after November 6, 2007?
Networking Academy students will be able to access the retired versions of the exams for a minimum of one year beyond the November 6, 2007 retirement date. Students can register for the exams using an extension voucher that academies can request from the global Support Desk.

If my discount voucher was issued prior to September 7, 2007 will I receive the appropriate discount?
Yes, Cisco and VUE will work together to ensure that you receive the appropriate discount. For more information, a complete list of Pearson VUE customer service phone numbers is available at

Will the price of the older versions of the exams including INTRO (640-821), ICND (640-811), and CCNA (640-801) increase?
Only the old version of the CCNA Composite (640-801) is slated for a price increase.

What are the reasons for the price increases?
The modest price increases for selected certification exams reflect the market value of Cisco certifications, provide greater pricing consistency worldwide, and enable Cisco to improve the certification program.
Examples of improvements include new certifications, more frequent updates to certification exams, increased exam localization, improved exam security, and enhanced online services and program scalability.
All of these changes reflect Cisco’s continuing commitment to provide greater value to its customers and partners through the certification programs.

When will the price changes go into effect?
The new prices will be effective as of September 7, 2007.

How can I determine the local currency price for exams?
All prices cited are in U.S. dollars. For details about local currency pricing in the country where you will take an exam, contact Cisco’s authorized test delivery partner, Pearson VUE.

Will I still be able to use a voucher to pay for an exam?
Yes, you can continue to apply eligible vouchers to exam fees, subject to the specific terms, conditions, and expiration date of each voucher. For detailed information about voucher use, see the Certification FAQ.

How often does Cisco change exam prices?
Cisco changes exam prices only when warranted by program offerings and market conditions. In most cases, the fees for exams included in the September 7, 2007 price change have not increased since 1999.

Does Cisco plan to increase prices for any other certification exams?
Cisco does not anticipate any other price increases for certification exams at this time.
Future price changes will be communicated to Cisco certification partners and posted on

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!

August 7, 2007

CCBootcamp Releases 3 New Routing and Switching Products

CCBootcamp has just announced the release of three new products for CCIE Routing and Switching candidates.  They’ve added 5 new labs, an updated written exam guide, and a focused lab product (replacing the Soup-To-Nuts book):

CCIE R&S Advanced Lab Workbook Volume 7 – (Includes Five Labs)

The first section of the new CCIE R&S Advanced Lab Workbook, Notes from Experience, discusses issues, tricks and approaches to many networking problems.  This section attempts to explain “how and why” to do certain things.  This guide does not attempt to explain the basics of BGP, OSPF, Frame Relay and other networking topics – there are many references for that. Instead, this guide provides useful insights and explanations of the more subtle and complex aspects of networking. The new workbook topics include a four-switch topology.

The second section of this workbook, Study Sheet, is a compilation of many condensed configurations, quick explanations and useful “show” and “debug” commands.  This section is
appropriate as a quick refresher on various configurations and a good review point as you make your final preparations for the exam.  For additional information, please visit:

CCIE R&S Written Study Guide for the Cisco Blueprint v3.0 – New!

Brad Ellis, founder and CEO of CCBOOTCAMP, along with his CCIE R&S team, has authored a new CCIE R&S Written Exam study guide, containing all relevant material needed to pass the current CCIE R&S written exam.  In this three-hundred and fifty page book, every topic in the Cisco v3.0 blueprint is covered in detail.  In addition, the guide contains over one-hundred practice questions to test your perspective knowledge and readiness.  For additional information, please visit:

CCIE R&S Technology Lab Workbook – New!

The CCIE Routing and Switching Technology Lab Workbook is written specifically to prepare students with an in-depth understanding of the core technologies found within the CCIE Routing and Switching lab exam. The workbook breaks down all major topics into their own chapter, and covers each topic alongside of the corresponding lab scenarios and well-documented solutions (including explanations and screen shots).  For additional information, please visit:

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