So by now you know that I passed my lab in Brussels yesterday. Here is my story.
I arrived at monday in Brussels around 13.30. I took a walk in the beautiful
weather to the lab location. By now I have no problems finding it but it’s
just kind of a routine. I spent the day doing some final reviews and then
visited the gym at NH hotel. It’s good to clear your head and to get sleep
in the evening if your body is tired. I did not sleep that great however.
I woke up at around 03.30 and then I went back to sleep and woke up at 5 AM
again. I got around 7h sleep so it wasn’t too bad anyway. It’s normal if
you don’t sleep that well. Don’t make too much of a deal of it.
I arrived just before 8 AM to the Cisco building and checked in at the reception
as usual. I was waiting for the proctor to come get us. The proctor goes through
the guidelines for the exam and you get assigned a rack number. It was now time
for the TS section.
I put my earplugs in and went to work. I think it is good to use earplugs for
zoning out from the environment around you. I always start by trying to solve tickets
that look easier. These are usually the ones that contain only a few devices.
The reasoning behind this is to build your confidence and to get the feeling
that time is not running out on you. For TS especially time management is
everything. As engineers we have a narrow mindset when troubleshooting and
we want to solve something before moving on. This can be your pitfall in the
TS. You MUST move on after spending 10 minutes on a ticket. Usually if you
think about something else for a while your mind starts thinking more
creatively and you can find a solution to what seemed impossible earlier.
For the TS it is very important to have a good understanding of the protocols.
You are expected to know what show output looks like so that you can gather
information from that. You need to user proper tools and don’t go hunting
with sh run. Sh run interface and sh run | section are useful though. I solved
all the tickets with about 50 min to go and then spent 15 minutes verifying
that they were still all working. Pay close attention to the restrictions
and don’t skip reading the guidelines in the beginning to save time!
It was now time for the configuration. I ate a banana to refuel some energy.
You are allowed to bring snacks to your desk if you like. I started looking
through the entire lab for dependencies and to see if any devices would need
to be reloaded. Always do this at the beginning! I started with the L2 section
and things were moving on smoothly. I used the L3 diagram to see what VLANs
I needed to configure where. You need to be comfortable with this, don’t expect
to have anything served, it’s all up to you! I did a lot more verification as
I moved along compared to my earlier attempts, don’t blindly trust your config!
I then moved on to the L3 section and that went well. I just finished the L3
section before lunch.
Previously I had only done the L2 before lunch so I knew
I was in a much better position this time. I kept doing all of the tasks
and didn’t run into any major issues. I finished with a lot of time to spare
and now comes the most important part, verification! You need some time at
the end to do extra verification, account for this! You WILL do some mistakes
just due to stress or mistyping. I went through every task and every single
bullet point and made 100% sure that I was meeting the requirement. This took
a while but it was worth it. I still had an hour to go after this so I asked
the proctor if it was possible to start the grading early but he told me that
the grading is not done by them. I decided to stay the full time and did
an extra round of verification. I actually found a small mistake in this round
of verification so my advice is to stick around even if you finish early to
make sure you have done everything that you possibly can.
It was time to head home and I had a good feeling but I did not want to think
too much about it because if you get too high then you come crashing down hard
if you fail. After I landed in Gothenburg I checked my phone and saw that I had
received an e-mail. I rushed through the air port to check my mail on the computer
and to login to the portal. To access the CCIE portal you need your CSCO number, written
date and passing score. I did not know this for my first attempt and you don’t want
to be stranded not being able to login to check your score
I had received the e-mail around 19.30 and I had a good feeling that I got the score
fast but I have heard both good and bad examples of receiving a fast score. I logged
in and I saw PASS. At first I thought it might be the written so I didn’t want to
take anything for granted but then I clicked it and there it was! My number!
You all know I’ve worked hard for a long time for this and I am grateful to everyone
that has helped me on the way. I am not abandoning the blog but it might not only
be CCIE focused from now. If you have things you want me to write about make a suggestion
and if it is interesting to me I might write about it. As I don’t have to focus on
studies only now I can explore more interesting technologies and write about them.
Thanks for following on this great journey!
I found a link to an interesting video with Kevin Wallace 2x CCIE. He did an interview with a CCIE proctor anonymously and some of the answers really surprised me.
- The proctor chooses the lab you get
- 80% of all candidates fail on any given day on average
- Sometimes the proctors “grow a heart” and relax on the grading
So what surprised me the most is that the proctor chooses the lab, I thought this was a randomized process. Generally you should get a different lab than your previous attempt but there are no guarantees. So if you go back several times you should get a new lab every time until you exhaust the pool of labs.
It was also a bit surprising that some of the proctors could relax a bit on grading if you have been there multiple times (hoping for that ). They will definately don’t help you pass if you don’t deserve it but if you were very close on something you might get credit for it which you wouldn’t on your first attempt.
So I’m hoping for some proctor love the next time What is good to know is that a script does most of the grading and it is results based. So when doing configuration in the lab think how could a script verify this. This could actually help in choosing the most appropiate solution for a task.
I’m back for Brussels but unfortunately I didn’t pass this time either. I got a little bit closer as I passed the TS section this time. I was able to breeze through that.
I can’t seem to catch a break with the config section. I had an advanced lab but I knew most of the topics. Unfortunately I spent much time on the L2 section which was very advanced. When I had done all tasks I only had 1h left for verification and that was not enough.
Even though I answered almost every task it was not enough. My pitfall was lack of time and that I did not verify enough. I have accounted for 9p afterwards were I had everything correct except for some tiny detail, guess what, that means 0p in the CCIE lab. Even mistyping one single character can mean the grading script will fail. You have to have 100% attention for all the details in the lab.
Unfortunately I did not have a good proctor either. I felt he didn’t know the content of the exam well enough and was unable to answer my queries even when I showed the technical knowledge that I was not fishing for answers.
I have a lot going on right now as we are expecting a baby within weeks. I will try to go back in the fall if I find the time for studying.