Today, I finally passed the R&S v4 exam in San Jose. I'd like to thank the instructors at Internetwork Expert for their excellent workbooks and classes. I'd also like to thank all of the other candidates for posting their encouraging stories and technical advice. I couldn't have done it without you folks. I'd also like to thank my family, coworkers, and friends for putting up with me while I pursued this. This was my fourth attempt and my third version 4 attempt.
Here is a brief synopsis of my experience and strategy.
For my preparation, I spent a year and half working on the CCIE InternetworkExpert Self Paced packaged. In the beginning I used dynamips and rack rentals, but I eventually built a lab with a coworker using 1841 routers and 3750 switches. I would plug away working on the lab exercises in my spare time. I'd put in 15-20 hours a week in my lab. I worked through the volume 1 and 2 labs several times. I also enjoyed all of the audio and video products. The core knowledge simulation was great too. CiscoPress books, the DOC Website, and the RFCs all were useful. Finally, I have to plug one non-IE products, Ruhann's short notes: http://blog.ru.co.za/ is awesome. 300 pages and very useful. Also, don't forget to check your libraries. Most of the CiscoPress books I read, I found at my library. Save some of your cash and visit your library.
Now for the exam...
Read these questions carefully. Answer them. Read them again. Now read them a THIRD time, before you hit submit.
I really don't like to toot my own horn, but I was pretty good at troubleshooting on the exam. I was fortunate to have an extra 40 minutes when I hit submit. Limit yourself to 10 minutes per question. Stick to the 10 minutes! If you go over, move on. Don't get suckered into a timesink ticket. When you are done, go back to the ones you had trouble with. It also pays to have a methodology for troubleshooting complex topics like mpls vpns or bgp. Check back over your answers, and grab any extra time you can for the final section.
This is the hardest of the three sections. On my last two v4 attempts I passed the CK and TS, but failed the configuration.
First, save your original config to flash. I've read several horror stories of blowing away key configurations and not having a backup. Do yourself a favor and save the original configs to flash:/original-config.
Second, Notepad helped me out a lot with my speed and it will probably help you too. I configured most everything in notepad. I didn't use it that much in my past attempts. That was a big mistake. Basically, I put all of the configurations I made on the routers and switches into notepad. This helped me catch several mistakes, very quickly.
Third, read everything carefully. You really need to read the questions carefully and understand the topology. Ask the proctors if you are unsure on the wording of the questions or topology, but don't be surprised if you don't get an answer that illuminates anything for you. Some of these proctors are tight lipped and will tell you to just reread the question.
Four, take a break every so often, get some water. In the past, I worked from the start of the lab until lunch, without a break. It can take a lot out of you. So make sure you get up, goto the bathroom, get a drink, and stretch.
Finally, don't give up. We all know it sucks to fail, but I swear if you keep at it and don't give up you will pass.
Good luck to you guys!
Daniel Loughlin, CCIE #25965