Part II of a rambling review of IE’s Mock Lab Workshop. Part I is here.
The first day of class we started out with a basic overview of the technologies on the Routing and Switching lab. We didn’t dive into any of the technologies. You are expected to have completed the IEATC class-on-demand (at least once) and to have completed the first five labs of IE Workbook II. If you are thinking about attending this class and expecting to be taught technologies from the ground up then you’re in for an unpleasant five days. In the case of my class, about 3/4 of the students were coming off of 7 days of boot camp so if they needed review in any technologies they most likely received in prior to the start of the Mock Lab Workshop.
Next we went through lab strategy. It was at that point that Brian Dennis earned my $3500. 🙂 I have a terrible time with route redistribution. Many times in mock labs and just timed labs, I am flying along until I hit route redistribution. At that point it takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to over 2 hours to get route redistribution working per the requirements of the task. Here’s what Brian Dennis has to say about route redistribution (I’m paraphrasing here):
“Route redistribution? Screw it. Redistribute on the minimum number of devices in the minimum number of directions to get full reachability.”
He went on to say that most candidates take about 30 minutes for route redistribution (this made me feel a little better). The task is generally going to be worth 3 points. “If you were offered a lab exam where you had to score 80 out of 97 points (about 83%) BUT did not include route redistribution – OR – you were offered a lab exam where you had to score 80 out of 100 points (80%) WITH route redistribution; which would you choose?” Of course, you’re going to pick the lab sans route redistribution. If you’re given a redistribution task with redistribution between two protocols with multiple points of redistribution – only do the redistribution on one router. Lose the points, but gain full reachability. In most cases the extra time you gain from “faking the funk” on a route redistribution task will yield you additional points from mining the DOC CD or catching stupid mistakes during your review.
I’m sure that this has probably been stated somewhere else, but this single tip lifted a HUGE weight off of my shoulders. On one of my mock labs (prior to the workshop), I spent about 1.5 hours on a redistribution task. Even after I completed the task, I was resigned to the fact that I had failed the lab and phoned it in on the rest of the tasks. ALWAYS have a workaround for your core tasks. If you need to use a static route to get end-to-end reachability – do it. You NEED to get your core working if you hope to pass the lab.
One quick note: you can always go back later and try to correct the workarounds that you put in place. I would NOT suggest doing this with route redistribution. You don’t want to try to go back later and get those 3 points and risk messing up your entire network in the process. Just walk away. 🙂
Brian also mentioned that some candidates have a hard time skipping tasks. I am definitely one of them. I don’t have a hard time skipping something that I have no idea how to do, but if I think I know the answer I will continue to work on a task until I either pull all of my hair out or get it to work. You need to be able to identify core tasks and complete them. Any non-core tasks should be skipped. Even if you know how to do them. Period. Full stop!!! Come back to them AFTER you complete your core tasks and get full reachability. I started to do this in my lab and it felt odd to pass up tasks (sometimes nearly half of the points in sections like switching and IGP). But the feeling that you get once you have full reachability in under 2 hours is awesome. At that point you have 6 hours to get the rest of your points.
After the lab strategy lecture, it was time for our first mock lab. This is the only point in the training where I had a problem. Prior to booking the Mock Lab Workshop I had emailed IE to ask about whether or not the mock labs in the workshop were the same mock labs that they offered online as Graded Mock Labs.
The Mock Lab Exams used in the Mock Lab Workshops are unique and not available elsewhere in our study materials, so you shouldn’t have to worry about overlapping any exams. I have double-checked this info with the Brians and they did confirm this.
Based on this information I booked the workshop and also booked 4 mock labs which I completed prior to the workshop. It turns out that the labs in the workshop are NOT unique and are – in fact – the same mock labs available online. You will do four mock labs in the workshop (1, 5, 6, and 7). I had already done labs 1,2,3, and 5. So I had already done half of the labs that we were going to take in the workshop.
I talked to Brian about this and he told me that I could take any lab that I wanted (there were only 3 labs that I hadn’t taken at that point). The only problem with this was that the lab review would be worthless to me as they would be reviewing a different lab than the one I had taken. In the end I decided to do the same labs as the class. I was told that I could get credits for any repeat labs. I took this path because I had not been able to do much labbing prior to attending the workshop and wanted to “ease” into the labs. I also wanted to benefit from the lab breakdowns.
My employer covered all of my costs for this training. With travel, meals, and tuition, the total was about $4,500. If I had paid for this class out of my own pocket, then I would most likely have demanded a refund. As it turned out, it wasn’t much of an advantage (for me at least) to have completed two of the labs already (more on that later). Just a warning to anyone who is considering booking the Mock Lab Workshop: the labs (at this point in time at least) are the SAME labs as are offered as Graded Mock labs. You may want to reach out to IE to get a list of the labs that they plan to go use in the workshop before you book any additional Graded Mock labs.
Anyhoo…that was the only bad experience with the workshop and it turned out to be a non-issue for me. I’ll try to get another chapter in this epic review up tomorrow. 🙂