A lot of people question if it is really hard to pass the CCIE exam. Here is a typical answer which that question asks for: the test itself is very difficult. It is only practical that if you are able to have access multiple Cisco routers, you use them to aid you in training for the CCIE practical test. If you are unfortunate enough to have only about 5-6 of these routers, then it is almost inevitable that you will have a very difficult time trying to complete the practical test. The test would prove to be rather easy if you had five whole days allotted for you to complete it, but that is not the case. You will only have 2 whole days to complete it.
There are not many CCIEs who were able to pass the test by only learning from a single book. A number of them applied a lot of what they learned based on previous hands-on experience. Without being able to work hands on with actual configuration of routers and troubleshooting, it will not be possible for anyone to pass the CCIE exam. Many training labs accept and train people for the CCIE lab exam. Some of these people spend 3 years gaining experience working with Cisco routers while also spending time networking, and then they allot another whole year extensively reviewing for the actual CCIE Lab Exam. It is fairly possible to pass the CCIE Theory Exam without studying, but a lot of people find themselves failing the CCIE Lab Exam and only being able to pass it on their second attempt. A good advice is to not get stressed at all. It is important to concentrate and to treat the exam as if it is just a review training exercise.
Past generations who took the CCIE had it tougher since they did not have books that serve the purpose of helping the user review for the CCIE exam. Some of them resorted to materials such as existing Cisco web sites to aid them in their review. The bottom line however, is that the most effective form of preparation for the CCIE exam is studying hard.