CCIE R&S Written Review Blog Series

Peter Welcher
Architect, Operations Technical Advisor

I intend to post a series of blogs to help people study for the CCIE R&S (Routing / Switching) written test. This grows out of studying the last two times I had to re-certify. I started building study notes to help me retain the material plus to expedite the next re-certification. I now have around 100 pages of notes, about half of which is config samples. Why did I put in the time? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of architecture and design recently, less hands-on. And, for example, it has been about ten years since I did any Frame Relay. Isn’t that true now for many of us?

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been blogging, I put a lot of time into writing and studying the notes over the last 3 months, also re-reading the book mentioned below.

Concerning the written test, I’d say there about 70% questions that I felt were appropriate, and the other 30% required memorized details, what some people I talk to refer to as “CCIE Trivial Pursuit” or “WireShark Human Emulation Mode” (or “WHEM!”). Need I say that latter 30% tends to be stuff I don’t necessarily expect to use or retain for long?

Anyway, I have terse bullet-point notes that I intend to clean up and post as blogs as time permits. They are not all you need. You need to read Doyle on routing protocols, Zhang on BGP, and so on. My brain retains the who sends or does what to whom part of protocols just fine, so you won’t find much of that in the note blogs. Why replicate perfectly good books?

I highly recommend the Odom/Healy/Donohue book, CCIE Routing and Switching Certification Guide, Cisco Press, 4th edition. See or Thanks to Denise Donohue for giving me an old copy, it really helped! I’ll refer to it as “the Odom book”. (Sorry, Denise, but I refer to multi-author books by the first author’s name.)

What I like most about the Odom book is that it provides a very concise and well-organized summary and review of the various protocols on the R&S written test.

The first time around, yes, you’d better read Doyle etc. But subsequently, the nearly 1000 pages of the Odom book are a great review! And sure beats wading through 5000 pages of other books. I wouldn’t go memorizing the RFC numbers, but a lot of the other tables are worth memorizing, including the 802.1 and .3 protocol info.

I had started my notes long before receiving the book. It turns out there was a lot of overlap. That was re-assuring! I added maybe 10% to my bullets notes based on the book, marking most if not all such inclusions as coming from the book. I didn’t attempt replicating a lot of other good material in the book, including some of the tables and details. So you’ll want the book as well as my notes!

If you’re frugal, there are also a lot of good resources on the web. There are even more mediocre and worse resources. Thanks to people for trying. The result however is that you need to avoid the masses of wrong or sloppy information. The challenge with researching via the web is that so many of the Google hits are just plain wrong, that hides the correct information. I did my best to verify info in the notes. I’m human, so there will indubitably be some errors.

I put URLs for good topical web pages in my notes, and you’ll see those as I post the blog content. Noteworthy blogs in general (good tech content, lots of it, and they seem highly accurate):

  • (I just learned about Jon Langemak who will also be attending NFD 5, wish I’d known about his blog earlier. He’s got great tech info and a lot of it! And it looks very accurate)
  • (Jeremy is very accurate and concise — impressive blogs!)
  • (really stands out for quantity and quality of the technical blog material)

The Odom book comes with a Boson test. It is a bit old and I disagreed with about 15 of the 200 answers, but it helped with my question reading and focusing skills. I seem to need to read the test questions more carefully than I used to, and practice helped.


  • I’m going to reference this blog in the subsequent CCIE written prep notes blogs.
  • The basic assumption I started with is that the reader knows roughly how STP or OSPF or IPv6 etc. work, but may need refresh or correction on details, finer points. I would like to think I ended up going a little deeper than the Odom book, but also pursuing some different directions. The book suffers from the challenge of fitting in enough info and staying under 1000 pages.
  • I am trying to provide relevant information that might or might not be on the test, not a test dump. There is no guarantee of completeness or even relevance. I’m trying to help you learn technical matter, albeit with a focus on what you need for the test.
  • The contents are things it might be good to study / memorize / retain, especially things I’d put on the test if I were writing it. The test authors apparently think a bit differently than I do about what’s important.
  • The information provided assumes you have background knowledge comparable to what you might find in the references provided. I’m not about to spend the time rewriting or summarizing what someone else did a fine job of writing! And I do suggest reading the references to make sure you know and correctly recall that background information.
  • There is a lot of information available on the web now, unfortunately the problem is finding correct information. The information I provide is as accurate as I could make it.

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