One of the questions we hear all of the time here at Internetwork Expert is "what kind of diagrams will be given to me in the CCIE lab exam?"

And the answer is - "drum roll please" - NO ONE CAN TELL YOU THAT! Not because of an NDA violation or anything like that...it is because Cisco provides different diagrams in context and in style with the various iterations of the CCIE lab exam they are constantly creating to distribute to candidates. It is actually one of the things that can make the exam so difficult.

Here is what you need to be prepared to receive and how I believe you should deal with each case:

  • You believe you need a diagram to help solve a task and they HAVE provided one that looks passable for your usage - great! Go on and get some points!
  • You believe you need a diagram to help solve a task and they have NOT provided one - quickly draw your own diagram.
  • You believe you need a diagram to help solve a task and they have provided one that is more confusing to you than it is helpful - quickly draw your own diagram.

Here are some other various observations I want to make about the subject of diagrams in the exam:

  • One of my biggest pet peeves in a Bootcamp or during a Mock Lab workshop is watching a student take our "Master Diagram" and start making notes on it. YOU CANNOT EVER WRITE ON AN EXISTING DIAGRAM IN THE LAB. Why practice something you can never actually do. Please students - STOP!!!! I beg of you.
  • Often times the diagram will be so bad you are given that you will need to check with the proctor in order to guarantee an accurate interpretation and/or redraw. Never hesitate to do this; it is EXACTLY one of the reasons the proctor is sitting in that room.
  • I have seen students make absolute works of art with their own diagrams, using a nickel to trace out routers and a business card to trace out switches. Awesome, go for it, just please, make sure this is all calculated into your overall time management to pass the lab. While there were points awarded for diagrams in the two-day format, there is no such thing in our current lab exam.
  • Diagrams in the lab are another real personal part of the process. You will talk to first time passers that report things like:

o    I never drew a single diagram.
o    I redrew two full diagrams documenting the entire lab.
o    I drew a couple of different small diagrams.
o    I drew a dozen or so diagrams.

  • Become accustomed to the largest possible variety of diagram styles as you can as you study. Most of the CCIE vendors allow a free download sample of their stuff - that is a great way to start checking out different styles!

I hope this post helps you! I am off now to diagram how best to vacuum my living room.

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