As many of you know, I’ve been studying for my CCIE lab for the last year. I passed the written lab last March and eagerly started studying for the lab. I was WAY more excited to study for the lab than I was the written. Studying went well and I felt like I was doing a good job of dedicating a set amout of time towards studying despite having our first child and moving during that time period.
I took my first lab attempt on June 11th and I felt like a million bucks when I left. I felt great about the whole thing. I wrapped up troubleshooting with 30 minutes to spare and I started in on config early. I read the entire lab and felt comfortable with what needed to be configured so I jumped in right away. I ran into a couple of snags that slowed me down a little bit in the L2 section but by the time we got to lunch I was well into L3.
I remember getting back from lunch and looking at the clock and thinking that I had so much time left that I wasn’t worried. Then I made a mistake which forced me to have to go back and redo some of the config. This was a HUGE time waste. I probably lost an hour total. Despite this, I managed to finish the config in the allotted time but ran out of time while doing my double check. Regardless of all of this, I thought for sure I had passed. Since I took it on a Friday, I had to wait until Sunday for my results. Turned out I had passed TS and failed config. I was shocked. Literally didn’t know why or what went wrong. Spent the next week trying to justify what might have caused me to fail.
I then joined the ranks of people checking the CCIE portal page 4 times a day for another open lab seat. While on a work trip to CA I happened to spot an open seat and quickly worked to change my schedule to accommodate it. Spent the next 3 weeks deep in study. I had sort of convinced myself that I had made an IP mistake in the first attempt. Used the wrong IP’s for a section or something along those lines.
Flew back to San Jose on May 13th and took my second attempt on May 14th. The TS did not go well. Im not sure how to explain it, but the lab itself just seemed different. The general feel for the lab felt different and the tickets seemed to be more vague to me. I almost felt like I was taking a totally different kind of test. On top of that, the proctor thought it would be a good idea to spend the first hour loudly making travel plans on her cell phone. Yes, I realize I could have brought ear plugs, but I certainly didn’t think I’d need them because of the proctor. I ran out of time in TS knowing that I had failed it. Went into config and this time I finished it with 2 hours left. Verified the crap out of everything I could, and redid the lab 2 or 3 times. I left being confident that I had failed overall but passed config this time. Got my results a couple hours later and I failed both sections.
Im not sure how to summarize my feelings, but discouraged was certainly at the top of the list at that point. It would be different if I knew what I was doing wrong. Thing is, they don’t really tell you. Im obviously making a mistake in config thats causing me to fail but I can’t for the life of my figure out what it is. Since Im passed the v4 window, my only option is to study for v5.
So that being said, Im putting the CCIE on hold at least until Winter. We had our first child back in September and my study schedule didn’t leave me much time for the her and my wife. So I’ll be taking at least the summer and fall off and at that point I’ll decide if I want to go after the v5 exam.
In the mean time, Im looking forward to getting back into blogging and looking at some of the stuff that’s been on my todo list since I started lab study.