Perhaps the most frequent question I receive from a student following their CCIE 4.0 program purchase is how they should best use the mountain of study materials that is included in that incredible bundle. This post is the first in a series I will provide that outlines various different study approaches we have witnessed students use and succeed with in the past. Just like passing the actual lab exam is a very personal experience consisting of a personalized strategy approach, so is the task of preparing for the exam. I look forward to the blog comments in these posts as students can share their own, valuable study tips and approaches.

Our first student (John) purchased the Self-Paced CCIE 4.0 program and decided to add on the Audio Bootcamp and the Interactive Video Companion.

John is 32 years of age with a wife and a 2 year old daughter. He works for a large help desk, and his role is to assist field technicians troubleshooting home networks.

Let us examine how he used these products in order to pass his CCIE Version 4.0 exam.

Phase 1 – Self Analysis

John prints out the Expanded Study Blueprint and rates his comfort level on a scale of 1 to 5 for each technology area. He will use this rating to help gauge how much time he will be spending in certain study areas.

John meets with his wife and they agree upon his study hours and arrange their schedules to accommodate his journey.

Phase 2 – Tier 1 Study

Based on his self analysis phase, and his love of reading a good technical book, John decides to read the following texts:

John has a long commute into and out of work each day. To help with his Tier 1 knowledge, and to ease the boredom of the commute, John listens to the Audio Bootcamp twice per day.

Once John finishes these texts, he watches all lessons of the Advanced Technologies Class on Demand. John also supplements these videos with some titles that interest him on the Open Lecture Series.

John is excited now for hands on practice and he completes the Volume 1 - Advanced Technologies Labs.

Phase 3 – Tier 2 Study

John starts practicing with some Core Knowledge Simulation questions each day. These cause him to read the More Information links for subjects that he still feels a bit weak in for Tier 1.

For hands-on practice, John now starts the Volume 2 – Full Scale Practice Labs. He also uses the workbook’s companion products, the Interactive Video Companion Series and the Lab Meet-Ups.

To build configuration speed, John completes several sections of the Volume 3 – Core Technologies Labs.

Phase 4 – Tier 3 Study

John attempts the labs in the Advanced Troubleshooting Bootcamp, and several of the Volume 4 – Troubleshooting labs.

With much excitement, John books his first Mock Lab. Based on the results, he returns to sections of the Core Knowledge Simulation, the Volume 1 workbook, and completes several more Volume 4 labs.

John attempts another Mock Lab, and based on the results, schedules his actual lab exam. He completes another Mock Lab three weeks before his exam.

John travels to Brussels and passes his Version 4 lab exam in his first attempt!

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20 Responses to “A Sample CCIE 4.0 Program Study Approach”

  1. Iman says:

    That was great man !
    but you know !One question. there are so many books mentioned in the Cisco web site as the recommended reading list, according to above, do you mean we “dont need to study all the chapters from all those books ?”


    • Hi Iman!

      It will really vary from candidate to candidate. Some will pass without ever opening a Cisco Press book – while others will read both Doyle Volumes from cover to cover – and a bunch of other texts.

      This candidate wanted to read as part of Tier 1 – but notice because of his strengths he identified in his self assessment, he did not have to read complete books in all cases.

  2. akdamar says:


    First of all,I would like to you and INE team for your great effort.
    I would like to comment on studying strategies.For me the biggest problem after studying and doing several hands-on I feel good about that subject but after studying more topics when I return back I have noticed that I have forgotten the first topics.So what I have decided to finish studying all the topics by using ATO and wb-vol-1.This is step 1
    Second step is studying dynamips workbook labs and on the parallel re-perform the first step.I mean at least listen up ATO and open lectures.Hopefully pepating will work fine for me.
    In third step I will pass to wb-2 and lab-meetups.(I have not bought new companian series so far even I think it is must.I am still paying for mock lab workshop )
    During third step on the paralel I will study troobleshooting section(Troobleshooting bootcamp and ehatever you have).

    I will attemp mock lab workshop in september .Before mock lab workshop I am planning to have at least 3 mock lab to see my status.
    Before 2011 I will do my first attemp for getting my ccie number.

    Thanks and sorry for any typo or misusage of words.

  3. Tarun says:

    WoW thanks, just what i needed

  4. Sobey says:

    Can you please do a scenario for the people who just passed CCNP. You said in the forums that you should study for lab and written will take care of itself. From INE products should workbook I suffice and written bootcamp? for the written.

    Thanks Great post btw.

  5. Nadeem Rafi says:

    its great article… I liked the idea of printing out BP and assigning level of understanding to each and every topic.

  6. Amit Chopra says:


    There is no sample available for Advanced Troubleshooting Bootcamp so how can I consider this option?

    I want to see 10 or 20 min sample, is it possible?

  7. Nadeem Rafi says:

    I would like to see one blog post form CCNP -> Written -> Lab schedule.

  8. Hassan says:

    Thanks for that great topic but what are books you recommend to read as tier 1 for the new blueprint???

  9. John says:

    fairy tale story

    the real story ends like this
    “john attempts the lab three times and ends up in a mental institution”

    He is scared of the words “cisco”, “ccie”,”R&S”, “lab” and starts attacking people whenever he hears them”

    He however calms down and goes to sleep when someone says “ine”, “brian”, “brian dennis”

    his wife is now preparing for the lab!!!!!!

  10. Manny says:

    LOL @ John…

  11. Dani says:

    @ John :)
    its not a fairy tail its a horor story
    Hello, I would also like a work flow from CCNP towards CIE written adn LAB although Written is not a big deal one can go through it by just going through Exam certification guide but the real part i.e.lab is very vast as we all know and there are so many materials available in the mrkt for that tell me how can one judge himself that he doesnt have to study some portion like portions in OSPF as its a very vast topic in itself although you can make such comparision like camparing the topics of EIGRP and OSPF one can say that he knows more abut EIGRP but for CCIE exam how can it be satisfied abut any topic.
    The plan i am following is that Once you got ur written cleared then go for books
    1.Jeff Doyle VOL-I and VOL-II
    2.MPLS Fundamentals
    3.Switching by Kenedy Clark
    Thn i will be exploring the topics in the IE LAB workbooks with dynamips and rack rental solution.this whole plan is for Next 4-5 months
    At Final Stage i am planning to appear in aboot camp offering in RIYAD Saudi Arabia in next 5 months i.e. its in JUNE
    My Plan is to appear in Sep in the LAB Exam
    So ppl please tell me is it fine to go with these material and does my plan looks somewhat reliable and if any thing is left please HELP

  12. roger perkin says:

    Thanks for this very timely post – I have one question – the audio bootcamp lasts for 17 hours, I have a 1 hour commute to work so I will be through the bootcamp in under 2 weeks, if I listen to it twice a month. What does anybody else do for listening to stuff in the car – I know of someone who recorded himself reading the doc-cd I can’t imagine doing that but would be great to hear of any other ingenious ways to listen and study.


  13. ospfv2 says:

    so now it becomes family vendetta

  14. john says:

    Second Part of the Story!!

    Wife Passes the 4.0 Lab!
    John becomes wife’s slave!

  15. kaleem says:

    Very Well Said .. JOHN ….LOLZZZZZ

  16. Richard says:

    thanks for that,

    just wondering how many hours of study John was able to free up and how many months John needed to do all that was needed to pass?

    cheers Richard
    35, wife and 1,5 year old son :)


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