Lab Strategy

I think being able to pass the lab has to do with more than just knowing stuff and being good at configuring whichever feature. You must have a strategy and be able to manage your time. Of course people are different which is why you should find out what works for you. But what ever you choose to do, make sure you stick to the plan.

Below is what I have decided to make my strategy. Also be sure to read at least the Battlefields Tactics Part I and II from¬ Unleashing CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0.


This is the first module of the lab exam. It has a variable length. You can use up to 2,5 hours for the R&S track. A total number of 10 tickets make up this module – 8 tickets of 2 points, and 2 tickets of 4 points. Aim for 80% of the points!

Keeping your head cool and being able to manage your time is of essence in troubleshooting. You shouldn’t use more than 8 minutes per ticket. Move on to the next ticket and make a note of it if you do not find a solution in this time frame.

I’ll start by reading the guidelines making sure I understand the global restrictions.

There shouldn’t be any inter-dependencies between tickets, so my strategy is to start at ticket 1 and work my way down. I will use notepad to write down the changes I make to each ticket. Also be sure to look for local restrictions. Read and understand the entire ticket before jumping to the nodes.

After the first cycle through the tickets, go back to the ones I didn’t make within the 8 minutes.

Also I will verify every ticket before ending the troubleshooting module.

Ideally I should be finished with the troubleshooting module within 2 hours. Preferably before.

I’ve written a page on¬ Structured Troubleshooting¬ that is worth reading.


Fixed 30 minutes with no device contact, just diagnose and find a solution to some issues using the provided information.

My strategy here is to start by looking at the overall scenario, then reading the questions and answers to narrow down the nodes/features that you need to concentrate on. First then I would start to read the e-mail thread and looking at configurations/diagrams, looking at wireshark…

If I have time to spare in diagnostics after being certain I solved the scenarios, go to the toilet. You will not be able to leave DIAG before the timer expires – it has a fixed time frame.


Like with TS, read the guidelines to not break restrictions. I will NOT read through all the questions, but just start with L2. It is extremely important to verify what is preconfigured before jumping to configuration! Use the provided diagrams/tables. Hopefully I will be finished with L2 before lunch – this is my goal at least. If I have 5-10 minutes before lunch, I’ll start reading the L3 section.

My strategy of using notepad and working my way through the questions is to take one questions at a time, read the through it, configure it in notepad and pasting the configuration in to the devices. Verify the questions and save configurations before moving on the the next question.

Use lunch to think about the questions in the L3 section and go to the toilet again (free time). Also eat something healthy at lunch. Have some fruit for dessert instead of cake or whatever. Be good to your blood sugar.

After lunch solve the IGP questions of the L3 section. When reaching BGP and MPLS, read those questions as they can be interdependent. Make note of these dependencies and start solving the questions in an order that makes sense.

Finish the L3 section with Multicast and IPv6.

Do NOT spend time on the Security section! Jump to the Services section and configure the questions collecting quick points without breaking connectivity.

Now start verifying all questions.

Throughout the entire configuration section DO NOT GET STUCK in a single question. Cut the loss, break the restrictions if necessary to save points!

Use all the time given. Only press end exam when proctor tells you to.

Jacob Zartmann avatar
Jacob Zartmann
Passionate Network Engineer thriving for challenges and knowledge.