RTP R&S Exam Report - 2013.03.04

As I did not pass the lab this last time, I will save the details of how I studied until I have numbers.  However, I did have some questions that I couldn't find answers to before the lab that I thought I could post here.  If anyone has reason to believe any of this is covered by the NDA, please let me know and I will be more than happy to remove it!

Monitor / Workstation

  • Monitor is ~23" diagonal, 16:9 aspect ratio running 1920x1080 resolution. You can change the resolution if you so desire
  • Monitor is mounted on a swivel mount to the back of the half-cube, and is fully adjustable
  • Keyboard and mouse are pretty standard, there is no wrist-rest.  I brought my personal wrist-rest and the proctor let me use it, but this may vary per-proctor
  • OS is WinXP.  Get used to WinXP's calculator, and the associated shortcuts for bin/hex/oct.
  • The taskbar will stack windows when the bar fills up.  You have permissions to turn this off, which I did.

DocCD

  • Access was very quick.  All the sections I expected to be there, were there.
  • I did get blocked errors for a couple of product home pages, but nothing that wasn't hard to work around.
  • Browser is IE, everything is opened in a new window.  I could not figure out a mouse/keyboard combo that used tabs.  Right click and the File menu are disabled.
  • You CAN open and view PDFs for documentation.  This is really handy when looking for details on a command or if you can use keywords to find the section you want.
  • You can save notepad docs to the desktop.
  • You CANNOT save PDFs to the desktop that I could find -- no way to tell IE to Save Target... or File...Save As...

Items in the Lab

  • The proctor we had allowed food and drink at the keyboard, no problem. 
  • I also brought gum, an extra pair of contacts, eye re-wetting drops, and snack food. 
  • Before I started my exam, I asked the proctor to review my workstation and make sure I didn't have anything with me that could be a problem.  I highly recommend this if you're bringing anything even slightly out-of-the-ordinary

Schedule

  • Lunch for us was 20 minutes long, which was very short!  Try to relax and let your brain rest, and eat light -- you don't really have time to enjoy the full meal.  The food was chicken with ham something inside and what we dubbed "mystery meat patties".  Mmmmm!
  • The time is kept strangely.  The proctor will note the time that he lets you into the lab.  He will then determine what time is 8 hours plus $lunch_minutes from that point.  That will be the set end point for your lab.  As soon as you're let into the lab, your TOTAL TIME starts ticking away!
  • You do have a timer for the troubleshooting section, which counts down from 2:00:00.  At the end, you are forcefully disconnected from everything.  You did save everything, right?
  • There is NO TIMER for the config section -- the time that the proctor determined above is the set end time for EVERYONE.  Highly recommend getting used to watching the actual time rather than using a countdown timer.  It will save you the brain cycles of having to constantly calculate your time left when you're not used to doing so.

Terminal Software

  • For R&S at RTP, SecureCRT without tabs has returned!  I have been practicing with getting used to PuTTY for the last 6 months, only to be hit with SecureCRT in the actual lab.  This held true for both TS and Config.  Other tracks may still use PuTTY, but R&S at RTP has switched over to SecureCRT.
  • The terminals do NOT auto-name themselves.  This can get really confusing in TS where you might have 10 devices open at a time, all with the same useless window name.  You can manually rename each window by accessing Session Options, but this is probably inadvisable for TS.  I did rename my tabs for Config.
  • SecureCRT allows Control-Shift-V for paste (Linux-style) and auto-copies upon highlight.
  • In the TS portion, it is very possible to open multiple terminals to the same device.  Commands entered on one will show up on the other.  If you're not careful, you can end up with multiple windows for the same router.  I will work on figuring out a better way to deal with this for next time!

Devices Notes

  • IOU for the TS section does not appear to have a way to save the original config.  I had been running a standard 'copy running-config original.cfg' on every device I touched during practice.  This produces an error in IOU.  I tried disk0, flash, and nvram with no success.  I did not try unix:, but there were many files listed there and I didn't want to break anything!
  • Be VERY CAREFUL when copying files in the config section!  I did the same 'copy running-config original.cfg' on all my config devices.  Most of them took it fine, but one was formatted in a way that it asked if I wanted to erase the config before copying!  It is NOT FUN to spend the first 20 minutes of your config lab trying to get the network to the point that you can HTTP an image over from another router so that a reboot won't kill your R2!
  • The proctor will tell you this, but absolutely all they can do to help you hardware-wise is to reboot the device.  They won't change anything, they won't do anything in rommon for you, they won't restore anything.  So be very careful not to break your devices!

General Study Notes

  • These are some study tips based on my own experience, both before and after my lab attempt.  I will be very careful to present them in order to not violate any NDA, but please let me know if you think one of them does!
  • Take all three INE TS Mock Labs.  The $90 is completely worth it for getting over "huge topology shock".
  • I have taken practice exams from multiple vendors for TS.  Sometimes the vendor questions are very specific, and sometimes they are very vague.  During the lab, I felt like the ticket was clear regarding what needed to be accomplished.
  • I expected to have complicated configuration questions for core subjects and more basic configuration questions for services and security.  I will definitely be studying more of the details of the latter.
  • INE's diagrams are all in the same style, and are all on a single diagram.  I would not consider this to be a strength of the material.
  • It would be really nice if there was more base configuration (a la Volume 3 labs) built into INE's practice labs.

Hotel Recommendation

I had excellent luck at a hotel I hadn't seen anyone mention -- Hyatt House.  The rate was really reasonable via kayak.com ($89/night).  Includes a kitchenette in-room, and a personal fridge/freezer.  The shuttle was very reliable when scheduled in advance -- I did not need a rental car.  No problem with airport transport or a ride to Cisco.  Shuttle starts at 5:00a.

I hope this is of help to up-and-coming candidates!  I'm looking forward to getting some numbers in 30 days!  If you have additional questions about anything OTHER than the content of the exam, please reply here and I'll do my best to answer without violating NDA.

- Keller

 

Comments

  • A very nice write-up. I had a very simiar experience back in December, except one minor (or major!) difference. My terminal did not have secureCRT. It had putty. I checked start>>all programs. No secureCRT anywhere. So I am really surprised to hear this. I have been in contact with one other guy who had his R/S in RTP on the same day, and he also had putty. The putty sessions, however, were automatically named (r1, r2, sw2, etc) which was nice.

    So it must be really hit or miss. Thats a little bit frustating. Just because the sublte differences are enought to through you a bit. And if you paste 20-30 times during the lab, trying to do it incorretly the first time each time, thats really frustrating. I too have been practicing with putty alot more since my first attempt since that is what I am anticipating. Guess i hope I get putty again (or really wishful thinking maybe Ill get a tabbed verison of SecureCRT! wouldnt that be amazing...)

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