This is Day 2, you might want to read Day One of Passing my CCIE Lab Exam.
Second Day – morning session
On the morning of the second day, you were given another paper that covered more configuration on the network you had built on the second day. You look around and there were a few new faces, these were the Day 1 people replacing those who failed yesterday and didn’t get to come back for Day 2.
So you get started on the morning of Day 2. I knew that if made a good showing here, then I could make the afternoon and have a good chance as passing because I felt confident on troubleshooting. A couple of the Day 1 folks look out of their depth, and sure enough, ask the proctor some stupid questions, you know they won’t be coming back after lunch. Check the clock, make sure you can check your work and fix if needed. Do I need to triage some questions to make the time ? Yes, which question can I bypass ?
Break, and its time for lunch. Did I do enough to make the afternoon ?
Exam format and questions
From what I read of other candidates today, the basic format of the questions and the exam approach has not changed much in seven years. The classics are still there e.g.
- The Breaker – configuring this will break something you did earlier, you had better notice
- The Simple Hook – the question reads complicated but has a simple answer
- The Cracker – A simple question but has a complicated answer
- Make / Break – what I called a make / break question, where either know a thing or you don’t.
- The Builder – the cumulative question where you will have four to six steps, all of which must be exactly right to get the marks.
- The Herring – The misleading question – the question where the obvious answer is not the right answer. We called these land mines
- The Time bomb – the questions is not misleading, but you need to think it through, sucking up time.
Looking back now, I can see the questions are framed this work to make sure that you know your stuff back to front, as well as front to back. Why is this important ? Because that is what happens in real life. Sure, there are questions in the exam that would never happen in real life, or would they ?
People who pass the exam have enough basic knowledge, plus practical experience, to work their way around the questions. Its probably also an IQ test, written to test your ability to reason and carry a mental capacities that are useful for networking.
Second Day – Afternoon session – troubleshooting
So I come back from lunch in a cafe downstairs (escorted by proctors to ensure we didn’t talk about the exam or discuss with people), the proctor takes me and two other guys into a room and makes us wait for bit. He returns and tells one guy that he didn’t make it, time to go home. That’s two left out of sixteen starters on Day One.
Then he turns to us, and we have just made it to the afternoon for network troubleshooting, we need to score very well in this section to be able to pass. Elation – a shot at the title, but, how close am I, do I really need full marks ?
So close. I hadn’t expected to get this far, and I was almost there. What a lift! My wife is primed for a phone call about now, if I don’t call, she knows I made it into troubleshooting. She also knows that I feel good about troubleshooting, don’t know why, but I am hoping that 5 years of field work will be to my advantage.
We are given a new paper that explains that we have to download configurations into our routers and then find, fix and document as many problems in the configuration as possible. You have three hours. Back to the lab.
Instantly I have a problem. I cannot download my configs. Is this a part of the scenario ? I waste fifteen precious minutes checking and then realise the config TFTP server must be shared, and that something else is blocking me. I check with the proctor, and, sure enough, one of the Day 1 people is using the wrong IP addressing scheme is his lab pod. Bad day for him, the proctor was not impressed.
So I finally get to load the troubleshooting configs into my lab pod and start troubleshooting like a man possessed. ATM inverse arp, Token Ring, OSPF Dial Backup, Network statement misconfiguration, redistribution loops and so on. The proctor collected the pages of troubleshooting notes to mark every hour or so. I had a feeling that he was surprised that I found so many, don’t know why, but I got a second wind.
At five thirty it was down tools, and go and sit in the lobby while he marked it up. I saw him go over to other guy doing troubleshooting and tell him that he didn’t make it.
Did I make it ?
It took about twenty minutes for the proctor to come down the lift. Every minute was an age, I couldn’t read the look on his face as he approached me. He held out a business card with my number on the back, and congratulated me on passing. Shook my hand, and that was it.
I caught the lift downstairs to the building exit, and called my wife with the fantastic news. And that is when it hit me. It was over and I could return to normal life. No more all night study sessions, no more planning the next study session or lab time. Weird to sit in the hotel room, alone, surrounded by study notes and and text books, and just stare at the wall.
When we passed, we posted in GroupStudy and here is mine:
I made my number last week on my second attempt in Sydney, Australia.
I had slightly differnet methods for preparing compared to what is normally posted here. I used a lot of textbooks, whitepapers and CCO reading. My study plan allowed for each hour of lab time to have one hour of book/study time.
The most difficult part was building a lab. It took me nearly 15 months, but once I had it together it was really only a matter of time and energy.
Thanks to all those people who answered my questions. I am off to enjoy my daughter who arrived four weeks ago, and really hasn’t seen much of her dad, and her older sister who rings to tell me to come home and play with her.
Somehow I have the feeling that my journey is only beginning.
I don’t know if my journey was interesting, but I hope you get something from it. My best wishes to you if you decide to undertake the test.