Question about the Security Written

AhriakinAhriakin SupremeNetworkOverlordMember Posts: 1,800 ■■■■■■■■□□
Morning folks,

Just about done gathering lab materials/books etc. and now I'm trying to layout a timeline. Between my own library and Safari Bookshelf I have access to all but one book on the recommended reading list but comparing that level of content to the exam guide there is a HUGE disparity. Now I don't believe in reading the bare minimum and always use multiple sources aswell as any extra reading to make sure I understand whatever I'm dealing with but I also like to have a realistic idea of just what I need for an actual exam. Does the 2nd edition exam guide give a realistic impression of the level of complexity and topics covered by the written exam and the recommended reading list aimed more at understanding for the final lab or is it really a quick overview and that massive reading list is required at this stage? It's not that I want to rush things but like I work best with clearly defined goals to gauge my progress, knowing roughly where I need to be for the written will help a lot, I don't want to have gone through every book and more and find at the end of it that it was complete overkill for the written stage.
Any help is greatly appreciated.

Cheers.
We responded to the Year 2000 issue with "Y2K" solutions...isn't this the kind of thinking that got us into trouble in the first place?

Comments

  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,313
    Good luck with that. If it helps I can give you some pointers based on my R/S written experience.

    I spent about 6 - 8 months clearing the R/S written. It took me three goes and I did an immense amount of reading. I used no braindumps. I never do. The final book that I used that took me over was Wendall Odom's Cisco Press. It's not a book for a beginner and I got a lot out of that book over 7 weeks because I had done so much prior reading. The CCIE recommended reading list and the recommended white papers. All printed and bound and poured over. I used the certificationzone tutorials as well. These were not cisco or test centric but a good refresher on protocols. As a reference point I had been through the written process before in 2001 and had the CCNP. Also experience in the field so I had that going for me. I found that the written required you to demonstrate hightened understanding of the mechanics of protocols in given scenarios. So the process has definatly been of value for my lab preparations because I was did so much work. When I see the awareness of some lab candidates it's clear they rushed the written and dived into lab prep. I think that's a big mistake. I learned a lot from the written that is really helping me now. Things I thought I knew well I know better now, things I forgot are back in focus, and I learned some new things. All the books were well covered, so they are now for reference.

    Your milage will vary, and even though I have got a pretty decent background the significant amount of time it took me to clear is proving well spent far beyond getting the paper that says I can schedule a lab attempt.
  • AhriakinAhriakin SupremeNetworkOverlord Member Posts: 1,800 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I agree totally on not just rushing the written as if it's irrelevant. I did that with 2 of the CCSP exams before Xmas (as they were retiring one at the end of the year) and one of the things I look forward to is being able to go back and redo those topics in greater depth for the CCIE. Thanks for the pointers :)
    We responded to the Year 2000 issue with "Y2K" solutions...isn't this the kind of thinking that got us into trouble in the first place?
  • dtlokeedtlokee Member Posts: 2,381
    Yeah when it comes to the CCIE I think the better prepared you are for the written only equates to being better prepared for the lab. People who braindump their way to passing the written are only hurting themselves in the long run when it comes to passing the lab (I have seen countless resumes of people who have passed the CCIE written and have never attempted the lab, makes you wonder). As for me, lab is scheduled, I got the old "Lab payment accepted" email from Cisco so I guess I'm on the hook now. Hopefully number 2 is the one.
    The only easy day was yesterday!
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,313
    Ahriakin wrote:
    I agree totally on not just rushing the written as if it's irrelevant. I did that with 2 of the CCSP exams before Xmas (as they were retiring one at the end of the year) and one of the things I look forward to is being able to go back and redo those topics in greater depth for the CCIE. Thanks for the pointers :)

    You're welcome. Written preparation has become for many simply a cram session to obtain a lab slot. It's much more than that. It's a vital part of preparing before your lab preparation. Without the indepth reading and reflection, doing lab exercises becomes almost impossible and many candidates choke way before actual lab time. They are forced to cover the basics again in the books and the insights you should be gaining during lab practice are lost on them. Get all that down during your written prep. Really work hard at that material and it will pay off. Lab prep will be easier to digest then and the insights will come as you put the theory into practice.
  • mikej412mikej412 Member Posts: 10,090
    Ahriakin wrote:
    It's not that I want to rush things but like I work best with clearly defined goals to gauge my progress, knowing roughly where I need to be for the written will help a lot, I don't want to have gone through every book and more and find at the end of it that it was complete overkill for the written stage.
    Welcome to the wonderful world of CCIE Study! icon_lol.gif

    Not all the books on the CCIE book lists are "100% reads" -- and you should be able to figure out what's important for the written and what's important for The Lab by comparing the book table of contents to the blueprints..... but you won't ever be 100% sure until after you've done the exams. Consider this your first task on the road to the CCIE.

    If the CCIE Security Exam Certification Guide is current, you can use that as an outline for study for the written.... Cisco Press does say the 2nd Edition from May 2005 has "updated content covers all the latest CCIE Security written exam 2.0 objectives" -- but the big thing seems to be the updates available for the test engine on the CD.

    There is some overlap between the books on the updated V2 Security Book list -- and they've snuck another 2 books in since I checked it last icon_eek.gif -- ARGH!!

    I do disagree with the CCIE FAQ where they state the Written and Lab exams are different and best studied for separately.... If you're within six months of being ready for a Lab exam, you should be able to pass the written exam without too much extra review.

    I'd say try to cover the reading for both exams first.... then decide what you think you need to read again (and stay awake for) the 2nd time for Lab preparation. The way they have the lab scheduling system setup, people who aren't ready for the lab can "sit on dates" and keep rescheduling.... which makes everyone else jump on dates so they "can have one too." You have a 6 month scheduling window.... which also conveniently fits the 6 month window for "new stuff" to find its way to the Lab. I'd say study for the Lab -- which should prepare you for the written -- and if you think you are close to running out of books to read and might be ready for a lab attempt in 6 month -- then schedule the written exam. The good thing about Security -- the Lab schedule isn't as booked up like R&S (if you don't mind San Jose).

    My current best guess for Security Lab preparation:
    When you're done reading the books, it comes down to the Online Documentation (or DocDVD) and rack time -- lots of rack time -- and maybe the "Cisco Network Security Troubleshooting Handbook."

    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to frantically page through the 2 Cisco Press "Cisco Network Admission Control" volumes (which I don't see in the reading list) for my June 15th lab date to make sure I cover the IV. Identity Management -- F. Network Admission Control (NAC Framework solution) task in the Security Lab Blueprint. icon_eek.gif
    :mike: Cisco Certifications -- Collect the Entire Set!
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,313
    I can't speak for security but the distinction between the CCIE R/S written and the R/S lab has become a little blurred in recent years. Even so, I do think you should concentrate on your written before you engage in lab prep. I ran this past Scott Morris a year ago, the idea of lab prepping and then taking the written nearer the time when you felt your lab prep was going well.

    He really believed it was best to concentrate on the written first and get that done.

    So I reckon you are better off working with the written blueprint first and getting the qualifying exam that way. There are still aspects of the written that require special learning as opposed to the lab as it's theory. Also your lab preparations will really benefit from a period dedicated solely to written blueprint study. Mine certainly have. This doesn't mean you shouldn't practice hands on during that period but you should target your learning at the written blueprint before the lab blueprint.

    There's also a certain amount of sweet deceit about being within 6 months of preparing for a lab exam. It's very difficult for a CCIE candidate to honestly estimate that unless they have already gone through the dedicated learning process of the written, so you would have to do that first anyway. The written gives you more than an insight into what you will need to cover to get upto speed lab wise, and from that a better estimate.

    A lot of people put the written off and miss out on the benefits of lab prep even if they are spending many hours and dollars on lab prep rack time and exercises because they just don't have the theory down properly. I have seen a lot of people take shortcuts on the written over the years and it's really cost them later down the line. The objectives of the lab exercises undertaken in vendor books all test theory, so if your not coming into that with solid understanding of for example redistribution, the differences between eigrp/rip and ospf summarization, the five basic methods of advertising routes with IGPs and the prevention of suboptimal routes by using route tags..to name but a very, very few crucial things, then the chances are your lab prep will be hampered severely. You just won't spot the issues or apply the correct solution. You may not even understand the final configs.

    With vendor lab books there's a lot of memorisation of config solutions in given scenarios going on, there always has been by many candidates. Without the theory the understanding of what the problem really is can be blurred, and what config statements actually provide the desired solution and why they are actually needed even worse understood. Your probably more likely to fail the lab because you do not understand the mechanism and shortcomings of fundamentals like split-horizon, ip redirect and proxy arp than any amount of stuffing canned solutions for wierd situations and IOS features into your head. Fundamental knowledge is key, and the DocCD for feature specific things. Candidates have been chasing IOS features for years often at the expense of fundamental learning. I believe this emphasis is a factor in many multiple lab attempts.

    The other danger is that lab candidates assess their readiness based on the scenarios they encounter in practice lab books and their understanding of the solutions. No vendor lab book will prepare you for everything. If you have several months of dedicated written prep under your belt before you press on with the practice labs you will have a much better understanding of what protocols do, how they work and interplay and a hightened awareness of what you may be tested on and what you should know well for the actual lab attempt itself.

    A good barometer of assessing how much work you really need to do for the R/S written is to attempt the end of chapter tests cold in the CD that comes with Wendall Odom's Cisco Press book for the R/S written. I would imagine a good number of people who postponed the written exam and estimated they were 6 months off a decent lab attempt would tank those tests and it's just not a book you can cover properly in a weekend. You can see a lot of people getting totally lost on vendor labs and trying to catch up on theory in groupstudy for example. For many, it's already too late.

    That book and a few others and the recommended white papers on the written blueprint. Read those first patiently.
  • AhriakinAhriakin SupremeNetworkOverlord Member Posts: 1,800 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Thanks (again) guys. My plan is to study for the written the same way I did for the CCNA/CCSP and that is practice every section as I go, though not to the point of doing it all at once blindfolded which I think is more a lab-ready state of mind ;). Enough hands on to reinforce the theory but not to eclipse it. I understand about the overlap, there's only so much you can know about IPSec for example and each extra source is likely to bring diminishing returns but maybe somewhere in there is an important nugget of info. not covered anywhere else.
    I learn by understanding, memorize the facts that lead to a solution but don't memorize the solution itself (which is as you said pointless, besides if you understand something you can reconstruct the facts with a little thought, with pure memorization you're hosed ;) ). So I think that approach will work better for some synergy between the written and lab.

    The virtual lab machine is now up and running (albeit after blowing one PSU
    icon_evil.gif ), got a basic install of PEMU and Dynamips ready to go, extra flash is on the way for the real routers so hopefully I can start really barreling into this by the weekend. Goodbye life, we had good times, we had bad times but I will remember you fondly...
    We responded to the Year 2000 issue with "Y2K" solutions...isn't this the kind of thinking that got us into trouble in the first place?
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,313
    It's not so bad. It's just 12 months of unremitting hard work. Evenings..weekends :)
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