1st attempt on R&S

Hello,

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 ;)

Regards,

Thibault

Comments

  • Sorry to hear that! Not many people pass in their first attempt but don't give up now. The TS can be scary if you haven't seen it before.

    I wish you better luck in next attempt if you go for it.

  • Too bad but maybe next time you'll go there with better mindset. There is a question which everybody asks - how do you rate the config difficulty compared to the labs in vol.2 ? I understand that it's hard to make such comparison, but still, I'd appreciate your output.

  • First attempt is very hard since a lot OMG and WTF there.

    Before 2nd attempt, try two or three MOCK lab level 7-8, if you get more than 82, then you're ready. 

     

  • JoeMJoeM ✭✭✭

    First attempt is very hard since a lot OMG and WTF there.

    Before 2nd attempt, try two or three MOCK lab level 7-8, if you get more than 82, then you're ready. 

     

    Hi Thibault,

    The above comment was what I was wondering.   Did you take mock exams before the exam?

    I am asking, because I tend to be a more hands-on learning kind of guy.  I am wondering how good the mock labs are for preparing.

     

    Thanks, and good luck on your next attempt.

  • Too bad mate. I feel you.

    I agree with you that Strategy is really important. Just take this 1st attempt as a learning experience and come back stronger on your 2nd attempt. 

    Good luck ! 

  • All the very best best for your next attempt!!

  • Sorry Thibault,

    But I think that you just pass the worse and hard steps on getting the CCIE, your first failed attempt. It's the one that really places you on the real position that you are to get the numbers. When you face lab by yourself and all WTF are comming to you, it's the moment that you start realizing what are your weakness and what need to be done to pass it. Now that you have that experience, GO FOR IT!!!!!!

  • Hey Lads,

    Thanks for the replies. I'll try again but I guess most of us go through this state of mind after a first failed attempt.

    I don't know about the mocks lab because i've not done any graded mock labs before I sat the lab. Well, I'm not going the do the same mistake again. But what surprised me the most is that a lot of the difficulty lies in the unexpected topics. And that grading script... I'd really like to see how it works.

    Regards,

    Thibault.

     

  • Sorry to hear that! I wish you all the good luck on your next attempt! Go for it!

  • better luck next time. At least you have tried it and you know what to expect.  What is probably very important is that you know where you need to improve and focus on.


  • Learn from your experience.Good luck on your next attempt.

  • In my oppinion, geting early can help you relax. I used to talk to other Candidate before the exam, just to kill the nervous feeling, and it actually helped me :)

     

    eventhough some of them will ask me, "Is this your first time?", at that time I just say yes, and they eventually will know we are going to failed right?!? hehehe

     

    but anyway, the bottom line is, getting early to the lab exam make you feel more relax ;)

     

    good luck on your next attempt buddy

  • CCIE is very tough exam in the world, less then 1% passing rate, and average people takes 3 attempts.

    so even it's tough to swallow, fail on first attempt is still normal.

    I came one day before and come early on the day then jogging around the campus to relax myself....it help to fresh/wake up my brain for trouble shooting "sprint". 

  • am too scared to even book now :D

     

    wish you best of luck in your 2nd attempt.

  • am too scared to even book now :D

    Dammed if you do dammed if you don't - it's the only way to measure whether you are up to becoming numbered.  However it's a lot of money (for a free lunch) unless you work for Cisco TAC - they can take it once a month until they pass - and it doesn't cost them!

    If it's any consolation on my 2nd attempt - 1 of the 3 candidates passed!  Shame it wasn't me!

  • I'd say don't be afraid of the difficulty. It's difficult, not impossible.

    As I said, the main difficulty I had  was to deal with my stress. I'm really sorry if this post makes anybody feel even more stressed as it is not my goal. Mostly because I think I felt really stressed during the exam because of all these posts I read about the lab. Some of them almost trying to have you wet yourself just by thinking of sitting the lab.

    In fact, the goal was to tell you, skillset is one thing, and strategy/time management is another and they are both equallly important when it comes to passing the CCIE. If you have both, I'm 90% positive that you'll pass (10% because of the unexpected).

     

    Regards,

    Thibault.

  • Ok Guys,


    Back to study next week onwards.

    If anyone on the Central european timezone wants to team up, feel free to send me a private message.

    Thibault.

  • peetypeety ✭✭✭

    I tell lots of people who are considering CCIE to consider the first exam as pure reconnaissance.  Just go see what it's all about.

    It is about the commitment.  You have to be ready to learn technologies inside and out.  You have to be able to deploy them accurately when faced with arcane, insane limitations on how you can do it, basically as a pop quiz to see if you know the theory in the middle of the practical.

    If you know the technologies and a good dose of 'show' commands, TS is easy, but you have to be ready with the right mindset: assume that a CCIE/CCDE/CCAr built this network then left for greener pastures, and a wannabe-CCNA has been running it for however long you've been studying (think about everything you've learned in that time, but this CCNA hasn't learned any of it).  That almost-CCNA has broken a lot of stuff, and finally the director brought you in as the hired gun to fix it.  However, you're on a wild contract: fix 80% of the broken things in two hours or you don't get paid!  The underlying theme here is: the core design of the network will be evident in the configurations that remain, so you simply fix what's broken.  If you feel the need to design a solution, you're going down the wrong path and you must pull yourself back, fast.

    The config section is daunting but doable.  If you aren't making a checklist to manage your points, you need to work on test strategy.  You should be using your checklist or Notepad to build a table of verification commands as you go.  Once you've finished the whole exam (or as much as you can do confidently), LEAVE THE ROOM for a minute and get a beverage while you look out the window and assess the current wind direction, maybe estimate the outside temperature by watching for jackets, etc.  Return to your station and go through your verification steps.  As you do each question's verification, read the question to see if your verification command covers all of the rules and points of the question.

    If nothing else, treat each exam as an opportunity to learn: you should learn the test well, and you should learn from the test well.  The moment you're outside the building, take a voice memo of all the things you think you did right, and all the things you think you should do better.  If you pass, you can delete the memo, but if you fail, you owe it to yourself to maximize the value of this visit.  Therefore, there's nothing wrong with being early.  Pay no attention to the small talk before the exam - it won't change which exam book you get or your score.  You should be able to walk out of the room feeling like you performed on the exam exactly at your skill level.  If you performed below, you need to figure out why*.  If you performed on level but failed, you know that you must bring up your skill to pass.  (Two different things to fix.)  And you want to be early, because a late start can mean a disaster.  For me, that meant a stop at Starbucks, and sitting in my rental car enjoying my breakfast.  After a few folks have gone inside, then I'll go into the lobby and meet them, but still early for the exam.

    * There's a lab exam where you simply won't score as well as your skill level would predict. I got slaughtered on it, and the proctor indicated that many people get slaughtered on it. If you get that one, you should simply schedule another exam.  I got caught by this on my next-to-last attempt, and to be honest it changed me in a strange way.  I went into the lab room with attitude the next time, and that helped my game.

    Remember that a pass is a pass.  During my subsequent job search, no one asked how long the exam took me, and no one asked me how many attempts it took. I've even heard of a large employer up my way who seeks candidates who have attempted the exam, pass or fail, as it shows an effort and commitment beyond that of folks who have simply passed the written.

  • Remember that a pass is a pass.  During my subsequent job search, no one asked how long the exam took me, and no one asked me how many attempts it took. I've even heard of a large employer up my way who seeks candidates who have attempted the exam, pass or fail, as it shows an effort and commitment beyond that of folks who have simply passed the written.

    This illustrates the point that it's also about the journey - not necessarily the nice number at the end.  Study has helped in projects at work which is a big bonus - without this things would have been more difficult. 

    Based on my attempts strategy (and sticking to your strategy) is key - it's a shame its so expensive to take (unless you work in TAC).

  • Hi Peety, after reading your great post I have a couple of things for you.

    First One. Totally agree with you about TS section, but I would also add that you need to be able to control yourself and calm down when you get stuck on one ticket or something astonish you. If you know the technology, you should make it.

    Second one. I was surpised when you said that "there's a lab exam where you symply won't score as well as your skill....... and the proctor indicated that many people get slaughtered on it". What does it mean?? You mean that there some "crazy" lab that you can be assigned randomly and the chances to pass it are lower???. There are people who also say that in your first attempt you will be assigned with one of "these" kind of labs.

  • JoeMJoeM ✭✭✭

    I tell lots of people who are considering CCIE to consider the first exam as pure reconnaissance.  Just go see what it's all about.

    It is about the commitment.  You have to be ready to learn technologies inside and out . . . .<snipped, but the rest is good>

    Post added to my Favorites posts list.    I will definitely read it again when I get closer to the exam.

     

  • peetypeety ✭✭✭

    First One. Totally agree with you about TS section, but I would also add that you need to be able to control yourself and calm down when you get stuck on one ticket or something astonish you. If you know the technology, you should make it.

    Second one. I was surpised when you said that "there's a lab exam where you symply won't score as well as your skill....... and the proctor indicated that many people get slaughtered on it". What does it mean?? You mean that there some "crazy" lab that you can be assigned randomly and the chances to pass it are lower???. There are people who also say that in your first attempt you will be assigned with one of "these" kind of labs.


    1: If you're good at troubleshooting, you already have 90% of the self-control necessary.  With plenty of tickets awaiting your attention, treat it like you're brought into a NOC as the "closer", so go cherry-pick the tickets for the ones you can solve quickets.  It's not a scenario where you're stuck on the phone with the customer.  In the grand scheme of things, you have 12 minutes per ticket, but you're better off thinking that you have 8 minutes per ticket, and you should convince yourself to move past ticket 1 after 5 minutes (because in the test environment, that "5 minutes" could be 20 minutes, and now you're behind schedule - assume ticket 1 is designed to suck you in for a while).  TS was daunting on my first try (but that was before they started offering a thumbnail to help you find a starting point amongst the large network diagram); I hit an awful IOU bug on my second visit; after that, TS somehow became fun.

    2: Yes, there's an exam where the whole world is screwed.  It was my ninth time in the room, fourth time with troubleshooting aka v4.  TS went fine, and I finished TS with 10-15 minutes left.  Started config, worked my way through it, tracked my progress, kept notes on verification.  Finished CF, walked out for some change of scenery, returned to verify my work and re-read my questions.  I re-tallied my predicted score, and left the site thinking for once I was exiting the room with enough points (82%) to warrant a pass.  Flew home, woke up the next morning, saw my score report, and instantly jumped to the lower-level tracking system to make sure my CCNP/CCDP/CCIP weren't revoked because of how poorly I scored.  When a guy like me gets 1 out of 10 on the L3 section and a 30% overall on CF, you have to wonder.  On my final attempt, discussing my frustrations with the proctor, he told me that the exam with <insert a topic here that I'm not willing to reveal> has an exceptionally low pass rate.  I have no tangible evidence to prove it, but I'm convinced that the scoring tools don't align with the exam somehow, but the castle defenses are so strong that there's nothing we can do about it.

  • Peety is right.  My last lab score report was wayyyyyy off versus what "I Thought" I had made scoring wise.  Don't get discouraged if you get a really really bad score report, I don't think the scoring is accurate.

  • I agree on the scoring part. A pass is a pass, a fail is a non pass but don't get too discouraged.

    I think I have been fairly close in my two attemps but my scores have not indicated it.

  • Thanks Peety for sharing your experience, I just hope not to be SO LUCKY to get one these "funny labs".

  • peetypeety ✭✭✭

    Peety is right.  My last lab score report was wayyyyyy off versus what "I Thought" I had made scoring wise.  Don't get discouraged if you get a really really bad score report, I don't think the scoring is accurate.


    I think for all of the other exams, the scoring is accurate.  If you get a score report, you have to ask yourself honestly "what is this score telling me?" and go forth from there. I tell lots of people that:

    You.

    Must.

    Read.

    Every.

    Word.

    There is no substitute for that.  You must read every word in the question, and you must ensure that you've acted on every word in your solution.  Don't get fancy, just answer the damn question, for perhaps 30 questions with maybe 60-120 bullet points.  That is all you have to do for a perfect score.

    The scoring starts with a script.  It runs through a series of commands to check the status of your network, and to ensure that you stayed within the rules.  It returns a series of green/red marks.  If you get enough green to pass, the proctor is done in 30 seconds and 7 mouse clicks.  If you don't get enough green to pass, the proctor manually checks each red item to see if you solved the question.  For the one exam in question, I suspect it's keyed to the wrong exam or something like that; unfortunately I suspect the proctor key doesn't actually show the QUESTIONS, just a highlight of the goal.

    Fact is, you must be an expert to pass the exam, and not just on one topic.  You have to walk into the room as an expert on more than 80% of the blueprint, and that was my mistake too many times.  In my earlier attempts, I was a master of IGPs and BGPs (getting 27 of 30 on L3/IGP and 17/20 on BGP was quite tough, but I did it multiple times in a row) but sucked at too many other things.  In my later attempts, I was getting better, but it took some repetition to get me over the hump.

  • peetypeety ✭✭✭

    I agree on the scoring part. A pass is a pass, a fail is a non pass but don't get too discouraged.

    I think I have been fairly close in my two attemps but my scores have not indicated it.


    Sometimes it's the inter-relation of various questions.  I had a fault one time that I could never identify, and it undermined other portions of my exam.  Another time, I "forgot" a command that was key if a router rebooted, and it was back when I would reboot my rack before verification.  So, 30 minutes from the end, my rack went into the crapper.  That too was an inter-relation of two features that I was too dumb to recognize and fix, as well as too dumb to roll back the complexity and sacrifice some points in the name of stability.  Oh well.  I stopped doing full-rack reboots after that; if they aren't going to reload my rack before scoring it (except if power failure), I wasn't going to force myself through that for verification.

  • Sorry to hear Thibault but very good luck for next attempt!

  • If you have test anxiety look into a beta blocker called propanol.

     

    It blocks the anxiety symptoms without messing with any cognitive functions.

     

    Better living through chemistry ;)

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