1st attempt on R&S
I'm writing this as a testimony of my first attempt to the R&S CCIE.
First off, let me tell you that I failed, so no question about it.
For My first attempt I've started to study back in September 2011, but never really wanted to make the step and book my exam seat, was too scared of facing a failed attempt. Then people around me started to say "you have to choose a date and stick to it". So I did, I booked the exam and prepared even more, I started to study on an intensive manner, after work, from 19:00 till 23:30 sometime 01:30 am and all day for 12 hours during the week-end. I kept that rhythm for a couple of months then when the exam date got closer I took two weeks of holidays and started to study everyday for 12 hours minimum except Sunday because whether you want it or not your brain will eventually say "that's enough".
But still, I was not very confident, when you search the web there are so many people telling you how hard it is to get the number. So, most of the time when you read someone's post or blog on the CCIE lab, it will just tell you how hard it is to get your number, like almost impossible except for a few people that we could call "THE ONES". (Despite the idea behind this post, I guess it will particpate in this as well)
Well, so after reading mellow d's blog, I arrived early at the Cisco Building thinking better early than late... man bad bad bad mistake !
Let me tell it straight if it is your first attempt, do not come early, try to get there at 08:15 sharp, just in time for the proctor to come an pick you up. If you come early you'll find a bunch of people asking your "first attempt ?" It doesn't take too long to understand what's in their mind. First attempt = ............. FAIL (capitals are set on purpose). Actually most of them were about to seat the lab for their 3rd or 4th attempt.
So, shortly after 08:15 proctor came and picked us up to go to the lab room. The room is quite nice and looks nothing like the slaughterhouse that one might have in mind.
Proctor was totally neutral, not friendly, actually he was just there... He told us the guidelines, what we cannot do etc...
Then the TS starts, to be honest, I did not know what to expect, I was like if I pass this one I might get my number by the end of the day - full of hope I was. I started to read all the questions, looking for the easy ones and started to troubleshoot the one I flagged as easy. Might be a good advice, to be honest, after 7 question the time was up, and the windows just closed itself. (Actually there was one thing I was not expecting, that I would turn into a slug at the very begining of the lab). So that was it, at that very moment I knew I failed the lab.That's the great thing about the lab, you pay 1800 $ but only after two hours you know if you've failed or if you can proceed to the config section. Once I knew I failed, I was somewhere between reliefed and pissed, are to define this feeling. The the config started, questions did not look very difficult, no they did not... Hey you should read a second time! ....actually it is noooot that straightforward?!? ..... WTF, actually how could they do that?!?!?? That's more or less what crossed my mind at that moment. In the end it is was easier than what I thought. Anyway, I was so scared that I made a lot of mistake, making stupid l2/l3 misconfigs, wich later impacted other sections of the lab.
To be honest, the main issue was I was slow, way too slow to pretend passing the lab. You must have a solid method when it comes to troubleshooting or configuring. You have to be sure you won't have to come back on something you configured 2 hours ago unless the questions requires you to do so. I would also recommend not to do what I did, like studying hard for two weeks before the exam. You just become mad, sicken and even more important the sleep. I couldn't sleep for two weeks before the lab.
I remember Brian Dennis during the London bootcamp saying what makes the difference between a successful CCIE candidate and another is the commitment. Maybe he's right, but this time it did not pay.
I don't know when I'm going to re-seat the lab. Probably not any time soon as it wreaked havoc in my private/social life not to mention the idea that I got now that CCIE is nothing like a real "exam" (university for instance) it's just a business. Very lucrative one. Not pointing at INE here but at Cisco which is really happy I guess to see so many of us failing and paying again and again to seat the lab (I paid the lab with my own money). I count myself among those, but today, this whole thing really has a bitter taste.
So guys, get prepared, be organized, be really quick at configuring, buy a US keyboard, the worst keyboard you could find and use it all the time. One last piece of advice, (if it breaks the NDA, moderator pls remove - I don't want to be sued) don't focus only on"well known" topics. Study the other ones and go beyond what the ATC tells you...
That's it. Feel free to ask if you have any questions - except THE questions themselves