How Has Bootcamp Affected My Lab Preparation Strategy?


I’ve completed a week with Narbik Kocharians at his CCIE lab bootcamp. How did bootcamp affect my lab preparation strategy? In a number of ways…

  1. I am going to keep my lab date of April 29 in RTP. Going into bootcamp, I wasn’t sure how close I was. After bootcamp, I know I have some practice hours and study time ahead of me, but I’m doing okay. My foundation is strong, and I’ve been covering a broad enough topic list to feel good about what Narbik lectured on and what his workbooks address. Now, I’m not guaranteeing anyone that I’m going to pass in one shot. However, I feel a lot better now than I did a week ago.
  2. I am going to complete Narbik’s advanced lab workbooks, all 5 volumes, plus the addendum volume. I managed to get roughly half of them done during bootcamp week. I will spend the next 3 weeks trying to finish them after work and on the weekends. Step 1 of that task will be to put a schedule together so that I stay on track.
  3. I am going to spend a second week at lab bootcamp with Narbik. I knew this before I attended bootcamp last week. I had already signed up for the retake and booked the trip. It seems worth mentioning here, though. That explains why I want to get the lab workbooks done in 3 weeks. In 3 weeks, I’ll be on a plane headed back out to Los Angeles for the March bootcamp.
  4. I am re-focused and re-energized now. I feel like this is the last big push to the end. I was drifting around for a few weeks, not sure exactly what to do after I finished the DOiT series. But now I have workbooks to complete, which I know is going to help bolster my knowledge, and make routine configuration tasks automatic. Passing the lab seems tangible, real. I’m close now. Achieving CCIE seems to be within my grasp. I just have to buckle down and get the rack time in. Again, I have to say plainly that I’m not guaranteeing a pass first time out; anyone who does that is foolish. But – I’m feeling closer than I ever have before. I’ve got my eye on the prize.

About the author

Ethan Banks

Most people know me because I write & podcast about IT on the Packet Pushers network. I also co-authored "Computer Networks Problems & Solutions" with Russ White.

Find out more on my about page.


  • Hi Ethan,

    Glad to hear that the bootcamp served you well. I have read Darby’s glowing comments also over on Sadikhov forums in reference to Narbik’s class!

    I am hoping that Narbik is still going to have his current pricing offer on in a few months time, if so I’m going to have to be sitting the wife down and asking her if I can blow a few G on Narbiks class!

    Darby mentioned that he reckoned that if he had gone and done this class at the outset it would have only have taken him 3 months or so to gain his IE. He didn’t mention where on a scale of 1-10 in readiness he would have expected to have been to only be 3 months off though?

    Do you think it would have expedited the learning process for you, if you had taken Narbiks’ class say when you was half way through your DoIT Labs? I would be very interested to hear your comments

    Your’ almost there fella keep it up, we are all rooting for you! : -)

  • Narbik told our class that he will leave his pricing as-is for the foreseeable future. He has no plans to raise them at this time. Think of it as a permanent special.

    In my opinion, Darby’s thought of being ready in 3 months with Narbik’s material is a little optimistic, depending on one’s personal situation. I don’t care whose material you use, you’re in for a lot of hours of personal study and hard work. I think how quickly a candidate is ready for the lab exam has more to do with their level of real world experience and available study time than choice of vendor material.

    Looking back on how I studied, I would have liked to have passed the written, completed Soup-to-Nuts, maybe 5 or 10 DOiT labs, and then gone to Narbik’s bootcamp. Then I would have completed the DOiT labs and Narbik’s advanced lab workbooks. Then I would have done Narbik’s bootcamp again.

    I don’t think I would have done different material than I’ve blogged about. I just would have done things in a different order. Narbik’s prep material & bootcamp coupled with the NMC DOiT series is going to get me there as effectively as any of the other vendor programs might have. Don’t forget that I also have hundreds of hours tied up in reading books and the Doc CD, aside from vendor-supplied prep material.

    I think we all chart our own course. Once you’ve committed to climbing the mountain, there’s no one right way to get to the top, although some trails are more popular than others. I think Scott Morris said something to the effect of “Plan the work, and work the plan.” I’ve tried really hard to have a specific plan and stick to it. So far, so good.

  • Fred,

    I’m going to have to agree with Ethan on the 3 months thing and retract my earlier statement.

    I’m going through these labs now in a hotel not far from the one I was in during the class. And btw – the Marriott Courtyard is quite nice.

    It will take a couple to three good weeks to complete Narbik’s workbooks the first time. Not to mention at least 2-3 weeks to do the Soup-to-Nuts.

    I’d recommend doing each 2-3 times each or until you are presented with just the questions and can simply do the tasks as presented in a Q/A Format.

    Then, I’d have to recommend going back to Narbik’s class at least once more and depending on your background maybe one or more times after that.

    I’m also finding a couple of topics not in this set of workbooks, but I’m going to run my list against the Soup-to-Nuts, the class workbooks, and the Advanced Labs so that I can be a bit more authoritative. Also note that Narbik’s books are a work in progress, and always improving. If you have feedback or spot errors he wants to know and correct it.

    And I do have to admit being a bit too optimistic. My own training and background are a bit different than most people’s. I think I’ve taken and passed over 60 Cisco Certification/Qualification exams by now and never mind the ones I’ve studied for and failed. I’ve been to a few months of pretty decent training by some of the world’s top CCIE Instructors and I’ve had the opportunity to harden my techncial education specifically on campus networks with 14,000 – 50,000 users and from 1000-2000 network devices. So I fear I am no longer a fair gauge at getting from A to Z.

    With that said I have two friends who are and I’m encouraging them to attend a class by Narbik. Maybe we’ll here from one or both of them and their experiences.

    Thanks again Ethan for a great blog.

  • Good luck Ethan. Solid knowledge, experience, but also a little bit of luck and ability to stay calm for 8 hours will get you CCIE number :) Got mine in RTP on second attempt.


  • Thanks for the great write up Ethan. I feel better prepared for the March Bootcamp, see you there!

  • Team (what a bootcamp should be),
    The bootcamp is straightforward, his lectures are in open format where questions can be ask
    and get a discussion going, he does not use powerpoint, a projector or any kind of
    slides but the witheboard (old school) which is very efficient because either you know
    the material or you do not or btw he moves fast (meaning you need to be at a ccie level)
    in order to keep track of the class but at the same time he make sure that not one is
    left behind on the material that he is currently working on.
    His entire bootcamp focus on specific technology and boy and girls many long hours of labs to be
    work at but the most important value point at his labs is the order and structure on the
    labs, is like building a master structure from the foundation to the final master piece.
    The lab material has tasks and with the tasks that he asks you what needs to get done then shows you how to and
    then explain with verification/result output how to accomplish the task and the final outcome, this
    is very important because you are able to go trough the entire process and finally be able to
    to see the final outcome and understanding the why and how you got to that point.
    Narbik class runs from 9:00am until 9:00pm (officially) because nobody left exactly at 9:00pm
    and the most unusual thing to notice here is that he never left the room until the last person
    was done on the lab, another thing to point here is that he will provide you with his personal
    cell in order for any one to get in touch with him any time for any question or issue either
    lab related or personal.
    He covers all the specific technology related to the ccie lab on the blue print but he goes to the other end
    on the material in order to make sure that his students become a better engineer because he say many times
    that it is more than just the ccie’s certification.
    In summary all I could say is the following:
    1 – His materials are top notch quality
    2 – His training approach is one that you do not see very often
    3 – His careering and personal interest in this students is one of those thing that very rare you see it today in the world that we are….
    4 – He know the cisco’s ccie material like the palm of his hand (follows the ccie’s blue print by the book)….
    5 – He goes beyond the ccie’s material because he strongly believe that it is more that just the ccie certification….
    6 – He strongly believe on the ccie’s nda policy and will not give or hint any information that violate this police….
    7 – He does not support at all music, software and literature piracy…..

    Overall Mr. Narbik is great, funny and well educated engineer that loves what he does and most important takes very personal
    the education and progress of his CCIE’s students. He wants that his students become ccies, better engineer and understand routing
    switching technology like nothing else.




Most people know me because I write & podcast about IT on the Packet Pushers network. I also co-authored "Computer Networks Problems & Solutions" with Russ White.

Find out more on my about page.

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