Why Not Recertify With A Written Exam From Another Track?


The question has been posed as to why I’m going after the R&S written to recertify, as opposed to the written from another CCIE track.

Intellectually, I’m interested in the other tracks.  I love networking.  It would be great to take the SP or Voice written exam.  However, it’s a matter of practicality.  I don’t do MPLS at all in my current job.  I do minimal voice, mostly focusing on QoS schemes, not call managers or dial plans.  To ramp up to the level required to pass those written qualification exams would require substantial effort on my part.  I could do SP easier than I could Voice, but both would be a challenge…more of a challenge than I want to put time into right now.

As I dig back into the CCIE R&S book and begin reviewing, I’m finding that the material there is tough enough.  For example, one would think I’d know spanning-tree as a CCIE, right?  And I certainly do – but the details are elusive if you haven’t thought through the STP processes for a couple of years.  So I’m having to go back through the text and diagrams in the book, review all of the terminology, the packet level detail of BPDUs (how they are sent, who sends them, what kinds of information they contain, etc.), and bring all that knowledge buried in the back of my brain up to the front so that I can confidently use it to answer test questions.  My experience with Cisco multiple choice questions is that there are two or more answers you can throw out, leaving usually two answers that seem plausible.  Knowing your tech thoroughly makes the difference in being able to determine the best answer of the two plausible choices.  I know the new written exam has test questions other than multiple choice, but I’m making the point that “mostly” knowing the material isn’t the same as “thoroughly” knowing it.

That said, it’s a LOT easier to remember all of this material than it was the first few times I took it in as a CCNA and later CCNP.  But that’s still an awfully big book that includes more detail on MPLS than I had to know when I took version 3 of the written.  Let’s also keep in mind that the “official” book is just one book.  To really own the CCIE written test material, I’ll do additional reading on cisco.com and maybe some other books as well.  The one book will probably get me close, but I’ll need to consult other sources to round out some topics.

With the lab almost 2 years in my rearview mirror, my kids still get nervous when I make any statement with the term “CCIE” in it.  They’ll respond with a tentative question along the lines of, “Are you going to have to do all that studying like you did before?”  My kids don’t want to lose their Dad again.  The “right” thing for me personally is to recertify in the most expedient way possible.  That means going for the R&S written again.  I think I have the best chance of passing that specific test on the first attempt, although since I’ve never seen the version 4 test, I admit it might take me more than once to pass.  There’s precious little I can find on the Internet regarding how people have fared on the version 4 test, although Anthony Sequeira seemed to think it was pretty easy.

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.

1 comment

  • Hello Ethan,

    Your analysis looks logical. It takes a lot of time and effort to complete whatever track you get into, some tracks take less than others, but in the end it will be a long journey, and time is something you always don’t have, specially if you have children. By the other hand, if your regular duties at work do not require a deep knowledge in other areas such as voice or security, it will become more of a personal goal to achieve, than a professional one.

    I wish you a high passing score in your recert exam :)


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.

Subscribe via Email

Receive complete, ad-free posts in your inbox as I publish them here.