An Honest Assessment
I sat my
second lab attempt on Tuesday the 3rd December and I did not
pass. This hurt me emotionally as I had
continued my constant study since my first attempt. My knowledge has definitely improved since my
first attempt. I feel it is more
complete and I have a good understanding of all the concepts. I worked hard on troubleshooting in the last
couple of weeks and I felt pretty “invincible”.
I did all the TS graded labs and the BC tickets and I smashed them all
in good time allowing me to go back and verify.
When I factor in the additional 4 months, how good I felt about my
knowledge and my recent results in TS I felt I was going to pass or be pretty
close. The truth is I did no better in
my second attempt and this was hard to take.
The issue with the INE topology is that I know my way around it, where
the protocol boundaries are etc so I don’t “fear” it like the real TS section.
I did not
sleep well before my lab and this probably did not help. I think I managed 3 hours at most. I have not stayed in London for a long time
and it won’t be anytime soon if I have any choice on this. There were sirens going off every 20 or 30
minutes, drunks smashing pipes against scaffolding, car horns etc. Not good at all. I visited Cisco the day before to check the
time and was told to arrive around 8.30 as they don’t go in to the exam until
9.00. I arrived at 8.37 and they had
already started and so my stress began.
The first ticket was very simple as it was literally two devices
directly connected that could not communicate but I could not solve it which
increased my stress levels further. I
can see now that I am not managing the exam environment very well. I think I am letting myself get stressed
which is stopping my brain functioning correctly and I am unable to perform.
In TS my
strategy has always been to skip the 3 point tickets until I had enough 2 point
tickets and to move on if I wasn’t getting anywhere with the fault. I stuck to this but I simply did not solve anywhere
near the amount of tickets I was expecting to.
interface was horrible. I don’t remember
any real problems in Brussels but in the mobile lab you could not see the whole
topology on the screen so you had to constantly scroll around to see different
parts of the topology and to see the menu options for different diagrams
etc. All the terminal sessions were
“Always on Top” so if you were working on 5 or 6 devices and needed to look
back at the diagram you had to minimize all the sessions first. It was horrible and I am quite disappointed
in that respect. The focused diagrams
included in the tickets did not help as generally the faults spanned a good
number of devices and they were too small to be off any use in probably 50% of
already decided that if I did not pass TS I would treat the config section the
same and try and score as high as possible.
In my previous attempt I simply decided to have a go at everything and
not skip any question. I did skip maybe
3 questions but the rest I had completed to the best and done partial
verification. I probably spent the last
hour doing some verification and looking at one of the questions I had skipped
as I felt I could do it. I should have
used all of the last hour for verification.
And now for
the worst part, I got the same lab as I had in Brussels. This was a horrible config lab and without
saying too much I was disappointed when I first saw it as it did not focus on
the main topics. Sure everything tested
was on the blueprint but that is as much as I can say.
I did not
learn from the first lab but I will be sure to put that right in case I get the
exam for a third time. So here are my results:
July 41%, December 45%
Layer 2 - July
62%, December 48%
Layer 3 - July
68%, December 44%
Mcast - July
0%, December 50%
Services – July 25%, December 70%
the Network – July 50%, December 100%
score is awful but worse is the Layer 2 and Layer 3 scores. Armed with a better understanding I have
actually done worse. So either I misinterpreted
the question or I made silly mistakes. I
do remember running through some questions on Layer 3 I had struggled with after my first
attempt so I would not get caught out again so to score worse on those
sections is really baffling!
I spoke to
my boss after the attempt and I have been informed that they will not fund any
more lab attempts. There is a
possibility of negotiating Cisco Learning Credits when we buy equipment but we
do not have any at present to use so I have a few things to consider.
1) 1) Walk away and forgot my dream of
becoming a CCIE, I am a much better
engineer for all the work but that is all – I am not ready to give up on my
dream so this is not really an option
2) 2) Pay for a V4 attempt myself and
hopefully we will have credits for a V5 attempt if required
3) 3) Take a break from study and prepare
for V5 using CLC for my lab attempts
4) 4) Find a new job with a company who
need CCIE’s and are willing to fund the development rather than recruit ready
I am going
to rule out 1) and 4) for now which leaves 2) and 3). The difficulty is can I improve enough to
pass V4? My previous attempts were not
very good (borderline embarrassing) and I would have to pay for this
myself. V5 does not scare me. I have done a large DMVPN project and I was a
CCSP for around 8 years or so before Cisco changed the track to
CCNP-Security. In fact it would be nice
to spend all my hours on V15 code and more relevant technologies.
moment I am having a break which is why I haven’t been on the forums. I felt I was a bit snow blind with the
constant study that has pretty much been full on for the last 7 months or
so (every night and every other weekend) with my studies starting around 3 years ago. I need to make a decision soon as I
have a provisional date booked towards the end of March.
I want to thank
everyone for their help and support with my studies so far and I will be back in
January or sooner if I get the itch. I
just felt a bit “sick” of everything CCIE after my last attempt.
Either way, v4 or v5,
I need to prepare better for the exam mentally.
I spend too much time on the technologies that I forget to think about
how I handle the pressure cooker that is the Lab. I feel stressed and unable to move like a
rabbit caught in the headlights of Cisco’s huge SUV. I will experiment with sleeping tablets
before my next attempt as I think a good night’s sleep will definitely improve
my performance. I will continue to work
on my knowledge and my troubleshooting as I still need to improve but I must
not forget to prepare mentally as I have not given this much thought before
a decent CCNP)