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richhillkc
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« on: August 18, 2004, 08:18:37 PM »

I am reviewing the CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide (ISBN 1587200538), which is the official preparation guide for the CCIE R&S exam from Cisco Press.  The book weighs in at 688 pages, which is about right for a book of its type.  The problem is that the type of book that it is doesn‘«÷t really work for an exam like the CCIE.  If we were talking about the CCNA or one of the single CCNP exams, I‘«÷d say ‘«£sure, you can get it all in one book‘«ō, but not the CCIE.  This book is a lot like reading a menu in that you get enough information to get you interested in a topic and decide if you need to learn more.  The problem, however, is that in the case of the CCIE exam, you don‘«÷t need a menu, you need a cookbook!  The actual purpose of this book, as stated in the Foreword, is that it should act as a late-stage exam preparation tool to help you assess our strengths and weaknesses and focus your study.  Basically, once you‘«÷ve gotten to that late stage, you‘«÷ve been reading for about six months and all this book does is breezes over all of the stuff that you‘«÷ve already learned.  Occasionally, you might hit something you haven‘«÷t read before and might take a moment to fill in that particular gap, but largely you feel like you‘«÷re wasting your time.  A book covering this wide a range of topics is easy to stall out on.  If you feel like you‘«÷re not getting anything out of your valuable reading time, you really have no motivation to keep going.  I personally stopped this thing halfway through, read a book on poker and then came back to it.

I think a better approach to future editions of this book might be to rewrite it as a preliminary study tool for the CCIE.  They could take each of the blueprint objectives and write a chapter which explains in detail what knowledge and experience you need to have in order to pass that objective.  Readers could use the end-of-the-chapter assessments to make a judgment call on how much studying they need to do on that objective.  Each chapter should also make suggestion of where the reader could go to get additional knowledge on the topics covered in that chapter.  See, what I was missing early on in my CCIE studies was a ‘«£test prep quarterback‘«ō to point me in the right direction.  I think this book would keep the reader‘«÷s attention better if it was recommended as the first thing to do in the test prep process, not the last.

Okay, okay‘«™ I think I‘«÷ve dwelled on the negatives quite long enough.  There are some things I really liked about this book.  First off, since it‘«÷s widely known that CCIE candidates can never get enough practice questions, it‘«÷ll be no surprise that I liked having the practice exam on the CD.  I also liked the Scenarios at the end of each chapter.  They really made you think and try to apply what you‘«÷ve read.  I‘«÷d like to see an entire book of them.  I also found the authors style to be very readable.  Anthony Bruno took the challenge of writing a book that covers the entire CCIE blueprint and got it all into 688 pages.  That takes a very concise writing style, and he pulls it off.  

In conclusion, I‘«÷d have to say that I‘«÷d recommend this book to others, but as a preliminary guide and not as a final exam prep tool.  Someone coming in cold, or even coming off of the CCNP exams, would really benefit from this book as indoctrination into the level of study necessary to prepare for the CCIE.  I‘«÷d warn them, however, that this book isn‘«÷t meant to be used as a one-stop shop.  You really must read other books and get a lot more information off of CCO in order to prepare properly for the CCIE.

I give this book a 3 on my 5 ping rating scale.
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2004, 08:24:47 PM »

What do you feel are the best CCIE prep books out there?
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