Creating Your Strategy for the TS Section of the CCIE R&S v5 CCIE Lab Exam

You have probably heard about my four pillars for CCIE Lab Exam success. I believe your success will come from four main areas:

– Your knowledge of the technologies

– Your exam strategies

– Your psychological preparedness

– Your physical wellness

Admittedly, for some of us – certain pillars are not much of a concern as others. For example, a real fit, totally confident person, might just need the tech knowledge and some ideas on strategy.


In this post, I want to ensure that you think about, develop, and practice a strategy for one of the toughest sections you will face – the 2 to 2.5 hour Troubleshooting section. My dear friend and colleague Terry Vinson and I developed just such a strategy and I will share it with you here. By the way – Terry was able to test this exact strategy twice against the actual exam – and he passed the section with ease both times! Now – this EXACT strategy might not work for you, but it should provide a baseline that you can tweak as you need to. Or perhaps it will give you an idea for a strategy that is truly all your own. Great – as long as you pass the lab exam, following the rules from Cisco – that is just peachy.

Terry and I called our strategy for this section QUICK FIRE. It works like this.

– You start the section by quickly reading all of the tickets and creating a tracker for all twelve. (NOTE: Here we are pretending that you receive 12 tickets in your section. This number of tickets can vary.) Record whatever observations you can in the tracker based on the tickets and the routers involved. For example, from the ticket text and the router diagram, you might be able to determine what protocol the ticket involves.

– Now you are ready to begin. Pick the ticket that looks the easiest for you based on your observations. Since you have just 10 minutes per ticket (actually a bit less since the tracker building too a minute of time) you are going to put yourself on a strict time limit. Here is what I decide in this scenario.

– I will take 4 MINUTES OR LESS to try and determine the exact problem.  I will take 3 MINUTES OR LESS to fix and verify. Note that if I cannot stay under both time limits for this ticket – I move to the next ticket that I think is easy. Before moving, I spend 30 seconds recording my observations in the tracker. Certainly I have at least gathered some great facts on this pesky ticket.

Notice there are so many protections built in to this strategy, protections against many cases of failed lab attempts! For example, this strategy ensures that you do not make the classic mistake of spending much too much time on a SINGLE ticket.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this sample strategy and I hope you are now formulating your own.  Remember, it will only work if you stick to it in your lab – no excuses.

This post is a slice of Keith Barker and I’s latest collaboration at CBT Nuggets – The CCIE R&S v5 All-In-One video training course. 

2 thoughts on “Creating Your Strategy for the TS Section of the CCIE R&S v5 CCIE Lab Exam

  1. Hello Anthony,

    just out of curiosity about troubleshooting

    when I display the command ‘show interface f0/1 switchport’

    it always says [switchport : enabled]

    when could I see it disabled or something else other than ‘enabled’

    thank you 🙂

    1. Hello Ahmed!

      Thank you so much for participating in my blog and for your excellent question. This is actually controlled by the shutdown and no shutdown commands. If you are to issue the shutdown command on this interface, you will effectively disabled the interface.

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