Hang around our CCIE Forums in the IEOC for any amount of time and you will inevitably see students discussing Core Versus Non-Core tasks in their practice CCIE lab exams.
I wanted to spend a moment here with you on the blog in order to provide exactly what these terms mean to me for my lab strategy.
Folks, for me, it is this simple. If a task has other tasks that might depend on it, I consider this a core task. If the task cannot impact other points in the lab exam, it is a non-core task. It is that simple.
Let us take a look at an example of each now:
1. Layer 2
1.3 Configure the WAN connection between R6 and BB2 per the diagram. Ensure CHAP authentication is used between the devices per the diagram.
This is a “classic” example of a core task. Notice that if we were to skip or not adequately complete this task, it can cause points to be lost in the IGP and EGP sections, as well as other things like Security and QoS.
Here is an example of a classic non-core task:
1. Layer 2
1.6 Configure ports Fa0/5 and Fa0/6 for PortFast operation and ensure these ports errordisable should a BPDU arrive.
As we examine this task, we notice that Fa0/5 and Fa0/6 are not actually connected to anything. Yes, this is a non-core task that has no other points that might possibly depend upon it.
One of the most frustrating things for me to see when I am proctoring our Mock Lab Workshop is when a student will spend a very lengthy period of time trying to solve some silly non-core task. They never do actually solve it and get the points, but they do waste 45 minutes of valuable lab time!
I like to use a Skipped Task Tracker for non-core items that I am just going to skip on my first pass through the lab. Sure, if it is non-core and I can make the configuration easily right off the top of my head, I will probably do it on the first pass. But if it is going to be tricky, or require some DOC-CD research, the Skipped Task Tracker is where it might end up.
Would I ever record a Core task on the Skipped Task Tracker? Well, that is a great question. I would if there was some issue that I still need to address in getting full points for the task. Perhaps I “cheated” and did not get the connectivity the exact way they wanted. Here I will not this on the Skipped Task Tracker and I will know I need to return and give that cheat some attention.
It is interesting that some entire sections in your lab exam will be non-core, but inside those sections you can divide them up into core and non-core. Multicast is a great example. There may be points in the multicast section on building the infrastructure, and if you fail to achieve those points, you fail to achieve the other multicast points.
So as I am working as smartly as humanly possible for me during a lab exam, note that I am constantly weighting tasks based on the simple core versus non-core criteria.