CCIE Configuration Lab Tips

The CCIE configuration is a 6 hour test.  The main goal of this section is to test you knowledge in building a network from scratch.  All devices are real physical routers and switches, no Cisco IOU.

Similarly to the troubleshooting lab, I read the whole lab from start to finish.  Just as the troubleshooting section I created a table to help me track of all the tasks and its requirements (see below for a sample and explanation).


Task Points Time Bullet Point Restrictions Comments
1.1 2 O
1.2 3 O
 L2 —   ———  ———  ———  ——————– O  – Layer 2 – reachability check
2.1 4 O
2.2 2 O
 L3 —  ———  ———  ———   ——————– O  – Layer 3 – reachability check


* Task – Task Number

* Points – Point value for each task.

* Time – Time, when task was completed.

* Bullet Point – If a task has 5 bullet points that describes it, I would draw 5 circles and check them after completing each bullet to verify that I didn’t miss anything. I did this after completing each task.

* Restrictions – Any major task restrictions, if there are too many, I didn’t write them all but only major ones that could affect other tasks.

* Comments – My comments on possible solutions, task dependencies, where I left off..etc.

In my table, I used the Time column to keep track of my pace, by writing down the actual time I completed each task, since the configuration lab does not have a count down clock.  This helped me pace myself and gauge if I was spending too much time on each task or if I should move on to the next task and come back later on.  I noticed that after the quick paced troubleshooting section, I relaxed too much on the configuration and not manage my time well.  Tracking time helped me stay focused on time and move along.

During my initial read,  I drew a layer 3 diagram as my visual notes.  I didn’t spend too much time writing all of the details like IP and interfaces but just the general topology.  I used it mostly for documentation of the IGP domains (color coded by routing protocol), settings like stubs areas, IGP authentication, area numbers, redistribution points, multicast enabled interface, multicast RPs, firewall configuration, NAT, DHCP server…etc.  Reading the lab, I took notice of tasks that had dependencies and which ones involved only a single device.  I also noted if I could combine some of the tasks together when doing configuration to save some time.  For example if you were to configuring OSPF in one task, would you have to configure OSPF special areas in another.  I allocated about 20 to 30 minutes for diagramming, reading and taking notes before attempted my first task.

Once my Layer 2 tasks were done, I verified layer 2 connectivity for each device.  The nice shortcut I used was to ping (all broadcast IP address) and then counted the number of neighbors responding.  If the number matched, I didn’t even have to look at the specific IP addresses (a huge time saver).  This was a really nice and quick way to check layer 2 connectivity before moving on to layer 3 IGP section. The other way is to ping each neighboring IP address, which would take a lot more time. I made layer 2 reachability a special check box on my sheet not to forget it.

For full Layer 3 reachability, I used a simple tcl script on routers and switches. Switches don’t need macros for this anymore, tcl is supported with the lab IOS version. Below is the simplest tcl script I used:

foreach i {

} { ping $i re 2 }


About 75% of my configuration I wrote in notepad for each task, then pasted into IOS.  Preparing my configuration in  notepad was extremely helpful. I  was able to double check my commands before pasting and catch many simple typos that would take time to correct or troubleshoot later on. This is especially useful with when configuring  BGP, QoS or IGP.


The rest of the lab is a simple matter of typing  : )


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