Success in RTP
It feels great to be posting up something on this forum.
I sat for the CCIE R&S practical exam in RTP Sunday, and happy to say I passed this time (my second attempt, both v5). CCIE # 44695! I feel I was very close on my first attempt a month ago and thrilled that I could pull it together for a passing grade this time around.
Here are some thoughts on the exam and preparation, I hope it helps someone else out.
I did a report a month ago on the other INE forum about exam format and what-not so I won’t be redundant. No surprises, same format as what has been advertised.
The proctor at RTP offers Sunday test dates from time to time, and it was definitely more convenient for me. It was quieter, less traffic getting to the testing facility, and the place they normally cater food it was closed - so he ordered in real food from somewhere else
You CAN zoom out of the diagrams if you feel they are too big. To do this you have to enable the IE status bar and in the lower right corner you can change the zoom level. 75% worked better for me and I could see more of the topologies at once. Any further out and the text was not readable though.
The following strategies worked for me this time around. I’m sure there are plenty of ways to tackle the config component and certainly not claiming my approach is all that good.
My strategy was “by the book” I supposed for the tshoot section - INE’s excellent troubleshooting videos where great preparation.
For diagnostic section - once again it can be a lot of information to process in 30 minutes and regurgitate answers. The questions themselves aren’t too tough in and of themselves. This really seems like it has the potential to be a heck of a wild card for people, don’t take it lightly. It’s not worth a lot of points, but you MUST pass it.
On my failed attempt previously, I focused on diagraming everything to the nth degree and working through the lab top down more or less in the order they presented it. BAD idea for me. I spent way too much time on drawing and didn’t finish the actual work.
This time around, I just sketched down the physical connectivity diagram verbatim from the on screen picture, and used it to sort out L2 ports etc. I did not feel the need to diagram out anything else over and above the provided documentation. I did keep a log of each question, point value, general topic, and notations, which helped me.
I started out, read through the lab, and studied the overall topology diagram. I knocked out the L2 connectivity first, but after that, I did not go top down in order. I identified (1) the VPN areas, and then (2) the “centralized” portion of the network from a routing point of view, and I worked outward from those. Things came together much nicer for me, although I was hopping back and forth a lot. Keeping a log was super handy. My reasoning for hitting VPNs early was that they are sort of like L2.5 and can stitch together parts of the network that are otherwise in the same routing domain. YMMV, I believe you need to think tactically here and possibly adjust your plan based on what they throw at you.
I ended up only using 2 hours on TShoot, so I had the extra 30 on the config section. I finished most of my work with a little over an hour to spare, which allowed me to go back through and catch some errors/omissions.
One thing you must be is efficient on the config section. Notepad, IOS shortcuts, and copy/paste are your friends, particularly if you are typing skills tend towards the chaotic side like mine. My best advice is to watch the INE ATC videos and pay attention to how Brian works configuring his examples, especially when something breaks and he has to re-work configurations to fix it.
I will caution, I ran into some topics on my exam this time that I have not seen treated in any training materials (INE or otherwise), especially in the areas of how different technologies interact. See my comment below about filling in the gaps.
My preparation was a very blended approach:
- I had an absolutely kick butt study partner. This was so valuable to have someone to bounce ideas and questions off of on a regular basis, and just someone that knows exactly what you are working toward and going through. We were constantly throwing problems at each other to solve and even built a few practice labs of our own, I can’t say enough how much this helped me.
- Real experience: I took every opportunity I could at work to follow interesting issues and resolutions with our network operations team; my “day” job is a voice engineer so my normal operational view of things is different.
- INE’s R&S Bootcamp was terrific. Dave Smith was our instructor and he did an outstanding job at challenging us and getting us to think about the technology and how someone writing the exam might present problems. He has a lot of real-world experience to share, the quality of the course was top notch. I also got to meet some great engineers also working on their cert and learn from them as well!
- INE’s ATC videos and practice materials were a great resource, especially the latest v5 videos.
- Blogs, Books, articles. You still have to fill in the gaps. My go-to sites are INE’s blog, ipspace.net , packetlife.net
I hope this was useful, good luck everyone!