CCIE Pursuit Blog

September 11, 2008

Status Update: 21 Days Left

21 days until the lab.  I’ve been labbing my ass off over the last two weeks.  I’m at the point where I dream about IOS and find myself typing “cntrl+shift+6” then “x” when trying to change between applications.  I’ve misspelled “conf t” so many times that I’m not sure how to type it anymore.  I’ve printed hundreds of pages of labs and configuration guides.  I’ve drank gallons of Diet Mt. Dew.  I actually look forward to hitting the gym because it’s less torturous than labbing.

About 3 days into this run I was ready to quit.  I took the first of two CCIE Assessor labs and failed it magnificently.  Question interpretation and time management slayed me.  I was utterly disgusted with myself.  I’ve put in so much time and effort preparing for the lab and getting crushed on a lab this late in the game really stung.

I continued to lab away.  Yesterday I did the second CCIE Assessor lab.  I had a better strategy this time, but hit a rathole on one question.  The worst part was that I knew what I needed to accomplish (somewhat – there was one very confusing task) but I could not get it to work.  I couldn’t even implement an ugly workaround because the part I couldn’t get to work would have been required.  Finally I was able to track down the problem.  Of course it was my fault.  I swear that I configured the appropriate line on the router, but it was not there when I finally started troubleshooting from the ground up.  I spent an hour on a 4-hour lab doing that one task.  It was a core task and needed to be completed or I would have lost a ton of related points later in the lab.

I ended up doing redistribution and then just grabbing as many easy points as I could.  I finished my last task with less than a minute remaining in the lab.

My final score was a 60%.  That’s kind of a Pyrrhic victory.  I scored very well on the tasks that I completed (missing only two tasks) but I did not attempt multicast or 80% of BGP.  The sad thing is that the BGP tasks were easy.  With another 30 minutes I could have passed the lab.

My depression has now been replaced a “Que Sera, Sera” attitude (English translation: “Fuck it”).  I’ve let this damned thing affect me too much lately.  I need to get my life back one way or the other.  I’m going to do my best and face the beast.  If the stars line up, then I’ll get my digits.  If not, then I’ll spend a Minnesota winter prepping for another run. 

I have a number of mock labs coming up over the next week.  I hope to be getting scores in the 70+ range.  I’ve gone through all of the IE Volume III labs (two times for the first 5 labs) and will continue to chug through the Volume II labs.  The ones that I don’t complete I will definitely read through before taking the exam.

Anyhoo…back to work and then more labs.



  1. A man can only to his best.
    I wish you the best of success on the lab.
    As an aside for your conf t typos have you ever thought of just using an alias for it?
    Alias exec c conf t
    I doubt even you could mistype c 😉

    Comment by Roy Waterman — September 12, 2008 @ 6:15 am | Reply

  2. You will pass it man…

    If you by some freak of nature don’t I am not even going to bother to attempt it 😛

    Comment by cciejourney — September 12, 2008 @ 7:20 am | Reply

  3. I have 5 says to go …
    I mean i typed so much in last 2 weeks or so that my fingers hurt. I plan to read away the next 5 days only.
    Lets see how that goes.

    Comment by Barooq — September 12, 2008 @ 8:48 am | Reply

  4. @ Roy Waterman – That’s a good idea. I’ve stayed away from aliases because I can’t use them at work. I don’t want to keep two sets of commands in my already full head. 🙂 But the decrease in frustration would be worth it for this one case. Now if I could just get the IOS to ignore “do” when I’m not in configuration mode. 🙂

    Comment by cciepursuit — September 12, 2008 @ 9:39 am | Reply

  5. @cciejourney – I wouldn’t pin your lab date on my experience or you might not ever take the lab 🙂

    Comment by cciepursuit — September 12, 2008 @ 9:42 am | Reply

  6. @Barooq – I wish you well on your exam. I’m stressed out at 20 days left. I can’t imagine how I’ll be at 5 days. I too am planning on just rereading my notes for the last few days.

    Best of luck. Hopefully we’ll be seeing numbers next to your name in 6 days.

    Comment by cciepursuit — September 12, 2008 @ 9:44 am | Reply

  7. If you have a chance, retake an easier graded mock lab a few days before your actual exam. I found it to be a big confidence booster to get a 95% from a graded mock lab right before the real deal. It was also surprising how much I forgot from the first time I took the mock lab a month prior.

    I think on my first attempt I typed the word rotue instead of route about 200 times–it nearly drove me mad.

    Good luck to you!

    Comment by Ed — September 12, 2008 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  8. You are gona be fine dude. I have seen all the hardwork you have put in so keep labbing away and knock it out 😀

    Comment by — September 12, 2008 @ 11:27 am | Reply

  9. I know my buddy is not doubting his self. You are the man keep telling yourself that. It is like marriage you are just getting pre jitters except this is one decision you will always be happy you made lmao. So quit being a puss and knuckle up an get your digits!!! Dont Weaken Cowboy!! You can do this You are the Man!!


    Comment by Tony — September 12, 2008 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  10. Also one word of advice quit trying to be so quick work on accuracy. Trying to just focus on quick can kill you too. I have a buddy who types 100 words a minute but frikn 30 of them are wrong lol. Just calm your self down and make the fight your fight. Take your time and do what you know dont get caught up in the bull. If it takes longer than 15 minutes for a task move on and come back. Dont get stuck on it. Try just accuracy. I believe in you brother!!


    Comment by Tony — September 12, 2008 @ 11:36 am | Reply

  11. You will be fine you have put in the hard graft and it will work out for you on the day. I always remember a quote I saw on a CCIE blog (which I think might be the motto of one part of the US Services). The more we bleed in training the less we bleed in battle. You have certainly done your bleeding in training so I am sure you will not bleed in the battle. Go kick the labs arse!

    Comment by Ferret999 — September 12, 2008 @ 1:13 pm | Reply

  12. Stay the course homeboy. You will do fine. Just imagine when its all said and done what it will feel like to look back and smirk about how stressed you were before you took the lab & then passed.

    Comment by navfett — September 12, 2008 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  13. Great effort! Keep on keeping on. I’m taking my lab relatively soon. Next week. Look at the bright side, you won’t have the Twins to lure you away from the racks since they are out of it anyway. Go Sox!!

    Comment by CK1976 — September 12, 2008 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  14. Pass or fail, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Personally, I think you’ll pass. I have a question, though: Do you feel writing about your trials and tribulations in the labs helped reinforce what you’ve learned in the labs? An acquaintance thinks it’s a waste of time, but I’m inclined to think it helps solidify your knowledge. Thanks and good luck in three weeks.


    Comment by Rod — September 14, 2008 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

  15. I’m also inclined to think that these practice labs and Assessor Labs are probably harder than the real exam. I’ve read about candidates that scored low on mock labs and went on to pass the real deal, so don’t lose sleep over it. At this point, you should have all your bases covered and just need to go over the fundamentals. Ever notice it’s often the simple things that trip you up? More often than not, when I troubleshoot, it’s some “minor” detail that I missed. Don’t treat lab day like it’s execution day. Treat it like it’s your day to kick ass and take names.

    Comment by Rod — September 14, 2008 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  16. Hey man, we will all be pulling for you come lab day. You will do well, you’ve prepared well!

    Comment by Joe A — September 15, 2008 @ 3:52 am | Reply

  17. @Everyone – Thank you for the support. I hope that I’m not coming off as some drama queen, but I am trying to accurately capture my mindset leading up to the lab. I’m slowly realizing that I will never be ready for the lab by my own standards because that would mean knowing nearly everything and that’s not going to happen. Not even close. 🙂

    @Ed – That’s a good idea and I will probably do that.

    @Tony – Thanks bro. I am going to pay your youngest to chuck a few more rocks at your skull for calling me a puss though. 🙂

    @CK1976 – I think you’re right about the Twinkies, but at least I have the Vikings….I mean Timberwolves….ARGH!!!! 🙂

    @Rod – I think it depends on the person. I started blogging because when I began my studies there were very few CCIE blogs. I also found that if I learned something and then had to type out what I learned into a (arguably) cohesive statement for the blog, then it tended to stick in my brain a little better. I was also extremely lucky as the CCIE vendors took interest in bloggers right when I started so I scored so free training.

    The downside is that blogging takes time away from your studies. Once you realize that there are folks out there actually reading your blog you start to make blogging more important than it should be. I was running a “Question of the Day” for a couple of months and – although it did help cement some concepts in my head – it took WAY too much time to maintain so I dropped it. Your first goal should be getting your digits, not maintaining a blog.

    Probably the biggest downside right now is that if you fail, then you fail on a stage. I dread typing up a “Failed My Lab” post. This pressure can be a downside, but can also be used as a motivation.

    So I guess that the answer to your question is “it depends”. 🙂

    Comment by cciepursuit — September 17, 2008 @ 8:32 am | Reply

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