CCIE Pursuit Blog

February 19, 2009

IPexpert: Free Graded Mock Lab – Plus Two Free Rack Rental Sessions

I checked my inbox today and found this great deal from IPexpert:

FREE CCIE R&S Graded Lab Assessment

Are you wondering if you are ready for the real lab exam? Here is the perfect opportunity to find out – FREE – while test-driving IPexpert’s training material and Proctor Labs’ online vRacks!

You will receive FREE access to electronic files for the following training components:

* Graded Assessment Mock Lab: You will receive a full-scale, 8-hour “Mock Lab” designed to deliver the true challenge of the actual CCIE lab exam. The configuration files are included, allowing you to compare your work to that of our instructors that created the industry-leading practice lab scenarios seen in our lab preparation workbooks.
* Proctor Guide: This is the detailed solution guide providing you with detailed written explanations for the Mock Lab taks.
* Video Tutorials: After you complete the Mock Lab, you will receive a detailed grading report, listing each section of the lab with your results. On that page, with the click of a button, you can watch videos of the instructor walking you through each section, step by step! You will be amazed by the level of detail as the instructor painstakingly walks through every task and solution involved in the lab. There is nearly 10 hours of video included for THIS FREE LAB SCENARIO (as well as every lab included in IPexpert’s lab mentoring kit)!

Online Rack Rental Sessions:

Included with this free offering, you will also receive:

* TWO Online Rack Sessions for you to test your skills using a full rack of the latest and greatest Cisco gear at Proctor Labs.
* Both sessions provided are 8 hours in length and can be scheduled back-to-back or at different times.
* At the end of each session, you will receive a detailed grading report breaking down every section of the lab.
* See exactly what you got right and compare your work to the Verified Labs™ grading engine to see what you got wrong and why.

CLICK HERE to get started!

If you click on the link above, you’ll go to a page where you can get access to the mock lab materials:

To get started, simply click the green “Buy Now” button below. You will see that the price remains at $0.00 through the checkout process. When your order is complete, you will have immediate access to the lab, solution guide and configuration files. You will get an email with two voucher codes for easy scheduling of your vRack sessions.

This is an amazing deal.  You’re basically getting the “$35 Mock Lab” that I reviewed here but for free…plus another 8 hours of rack time thrown in for free as well.  You’re getting $70 worth of free rack time, plus a graded mock lab.  I would strongly recommend this for candidates who are just dipping their toes into the CCIE waters to get a taste of a full-scale mock lab, as well as candidates on their final approach using a different vendor who want to be exposed to another vendor’s labs.

***Update***

I received my vouchers for the two free rack sessions within 15 minutes of ordering.

February 10, 2009

Internetwork Expert: New Poly Labs Rolled Out – Seminar Tomorrow

Internetwork Expert recently rolled out their new Poly Labs.  I had a chance to do some beta testing with these labs (not as much as I would have liked due to my schedule) and they are going to be a great addition for CCIE candidates.  Basically, you choose your knowledge level for each major section and then the testing engine will generate a random lab based on your abilities.  You take the lab and the testing engine automatically grades your lab.  Your ability per each section will then be updated based on the results of your lab.  This will show you your weakness and – presumably – after taking enough Poly Labs you will get a good idea of whether or not your ready to take the lab.

The cost is $25 per Poly Lab.  This cost does not include rack rental which will add anywhere from $8 – $60 to the cost (depending on whether you rent one or two 5.5 hour sessions and what the dynamic rental price is at).

[NOTE: It looks like IE has limited the cost to a max of $55 for a Poly Lab and two rack sessions]

Internetwork Expert will be hosting an online seminar tomorrow with more details.

July 21, 2008

IPexpert: $35 Mock Lab?

I haven’t given this a shot yet, but I probably will in the next couple of weeks.  IPexpert offers rack rentals (via Proctor Labs).  One of the new features that Proctor Labs is touting is the ability to have your IPexpert Workbook Volume 3 labs graded (called Verified Labs).  You can check out a couple of videos detailing this feature here.  Basically, you will be able to load the initial configurations for a Volume III lab (only labs 1 – 5 presently) then choose to have the lab timed and graded.

IPexpert has made the first of the Volume III labs available for free (sans solutions).  So…in theory you could rent a rack at Proctor Labs ($35 for 7 hours and 45 minutes), load the configurations for Volume III lab 1, and chose to have your lab graded.  Voila!  $35 mock lab.

IPexpert explains the process here:

Proctor Labs now offers FREE detailed grading reports when you complete the first 5 Mock Labs in Workbook Volume 3, described above…
You can measure your successes, failures and focus on improving your weak areas!

Test drive the system yourself. Just use our FREE SAMPLE MOCK LAB (Volume 3, Lab 1) during a regular Proctor Labs R&S vRack session and receive a free graded assessment of your preparedness.

This a a very cost effective way for a CCIE candidate to either get a feel for where he is in his preparation or for a candidate using one vendor’s mock labs to get a feel for a different topology and style of questions.  I fall into the second category and will definitely give this a try.

The only caveat is that the Proctor Labs site has this warning on their page detailing the graded lab process:

NOTE: These videos make reference to another new feature that will allow you to Save and Load configurations for IPexpert labs. This feature is not yet live, but will be very soon! (You can see it in action in the longer video above.)

It might be worth shooting off an email to Proctor Labs to make sure that you will be able to load the initial configurations prior to booking this.

***Updated 21 July***

I sent an email to Proctor Labs to get clarification about ability to load and save configurations.  They got back to me very quickly (in a minute – seriously):

Currently the saving and loading of configurations is available for the R&S pods only; which you are an R&S candidate correct?

This means that you can use the free Volume III lab 1 as a graded mock lab for just the cost of a rack rental.

While on Proctor Labs’ site I saw that they offer a workbook of 5 mock labs for $199.  I asked if these are the first five labs of the Volume III workbook (those are the ones that are currently compatible with Verified Labs grading) and the answer is “yes” “no”:

***Updated 21 July***

Oops!  I misread this response to mean that the CCIE Routing and Switching Lab Preparation eBook contained the first 5 labs of Volume III:

The gradable labs are the first 5 labs in the IPexpert R&S volume 3 workbook.  I do believe we also offer packages that include just the gradable labs with rack time included; if you’d like details on pricing of either products, I would be more than happy to forward your inquires onto our sales department.

IPexpert contacted me to clear this up:

The Proctor Labs eBook is a TOTALLY different group of labs than the first 5 in Workbook Volume 3.  These labs were made exclusively for Proctor Labs and released last September.  Just an extra 5 full mock lab scenario’s people could use and we marketed directly on the Proctor Labs website.  These are not gradable either
 
The gradable labs (which you could buy as a bundle) is the first 5 in Volume 3 of the R&S workbook (which consists of 10 full labs, the other 5 labs should be gradable sometime).  You could purchase 5 vRack sessions along with the first 5 of Volume 3 for $500 (or the whole BLS for $999.)
 
Hopefully this clarifies things a bit — Don’t wanna get people too confused!!!

Sorry for the confusion.  Disregard the following:

So you can get 5 graded mock labs for $374 ($199 + $175 (5 rack sessions at $35 each)).  That works out to $74.80 per mock lab.  PLUS you might be able to get this even cheaper by contacting Proctor Labs’ sales department and inquiring about a bundle.

I think I have it clear now.  You can use the free lab 1 with a rack session for $35.  You can purchase the 5 gradable labs with rack time for $500.  That works out to $100 per mock lab.

Thank you to Glenn and Mike at IPexpert for responding in an insanely quick manner.

Reader ahenning left a comment confirming the $35 mock lab as well as a review of his experience:

I did this mock lab just a few days ago. At the price its a give away. It is quite a hard lab. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give it a 8. What is great about the grading is that they actually show you the output of the verification on your devices. I had two questions that worked when I verfied them but did not when the script did. Normally I would argue the point, but because of the output, I had to think a bit. One changed because I rebooted the device and the multicast failed when the script checked because I made a change to the unicast table right at the end. So in short, the grading was correct, if it wasnt for the output I would probably have said that the script needs more work.

Im not sure how long the sample will run, but anyone within a few months of a lab date will be silly to not take advantage of it. It is basicly a free mock lab thrown in with a rack rental. Hopefully we will see more of this.

 

 

 

April 24, 2008

Internetwork Expert Graded Mock Lab 2: First Impressions

I took Internetwork Expert’s Graded Mock Lab #2 yesterday.  I knew going into this lab that I was not going to be on top of my game.  That said, I think I did okay.  I doubt that I made 80 points as I left 17 points on the board. 

The exam was a degree more difficult than Mock Lab #1 (difficulty level 7 versus 6) and I felt it.  I only skipped one task in the “core” section [a backup scenario that I couldn’t get my head around and decided that fucking it up would cost me way more than the 3 points I would gain for getting it right].  I did about half of the first Multicast task and then just skipped that entire section (7 points).  I need to dedicate more time to Multicast as I cannot continue to sacrifice these points.

The QoS section was fairly long (5 tasks – 11 points).  This is usually one of my strengths, but I did not complete 2 task (4 points) in that section.  I did complete one of the two Security tasks (a minor miracle for me).  The System Management and IP Services section (8 points together) were dead easy, so I did catch a break there.

There doesn’t seem to be a grading script for this lab so I will need to wait until the proctor grades my exam for my grade.  I would guess that I scored in the low 70’s. 

I didn’t rush through this lab.  My pacing was comfortable and I finished with about an hour left.  BUT I have to take into account that there were 17 points that I did not complete/attempt so my pacing was probably pretty slow.  If I had completed those sections, I would have been right up on the 8 hour limit when I finished.  I’m not sure how to increase my speed at this point.  I’ve never finished a lab in 6 hours (that seems to be the goal in the actual lab).  I type fairly fast and I’m usually not mining the COD for points.  My initial read through of the lab only took me 15 minutes.

I track start and end times for each task. The two largest chunks of time were spent on task 1.1 (setting up your basic layer 2 network) and on IGP redistribution.  The first task took me 48 minutes.  That includes creating a layer 2 map, but this is way too slow.  I did run into some confusion in that task which would have been cleared up by the proctor pretty quickly.  On IGP redistribution I honestly don’t know where the time went.  I burned 1.5 hours on that task.  During that time I did go back and fix an OSPF issue, plus I created my scripts and ran ping tests as well as mentally chewed on the next (uncompleted task) but that’s still way to much time.  Especially for a very easy redistribution scenario.

I felt the absence of a proctor on this lab more than the last one.  There were also a couple of really cool “gotchas” that IE threw my way.  I nailed one of them, but completely flubbed another.

Anyhoo…although I won’t know my final score for a couple of days, I think that I took a small step backwards on this lab.  It’s pretty obvious that I need to start working harder on the second half topics.  I can’t continue to leave points on the board.

March 31, 2008

Internetwork Expert: Mock Lab I Review

Mock Lab: 1
Difficulty Level: 6
Date Completed: 26 March, 2008
Final Score: 89

NOTE: I will be discussing very few details about the actual tasks on this lab.  If you are planning on taking this Mock Lab then you can read this post as will have few (if any) “spoilers”.   🙂 

I purchased 4 of Internetwork Expert’s Graded Mock labs back in December when they were on sale for $99.  The current cost is $129.  I completed the first of my 4 labs last Wednesday.

On your IE member page you’ll see a section for Graded Mock Labs (emphasis mine):

Your mock lab number will be locked in 1 hour prior to your session start. Once your session has started, a “Start” button will appear. Click the “Start” button to receive your lab, topology, physical topology, and configs.

If you do not click the “Start” button within 1 hour of the start of your session, it will automatically be started for you. Once your mock lab has started, you have 8.5 hours to complete it, and a timer will appear telling you how much time you have left. You will be automatically kicked off your rack at the end of the 8.5-hour lab.

Your mock lab will be graded by 9 PM PDT on the second business day.

Click “View” to open a pop-up window displaying your graded mock lab. Click “Overdue” to automatically send a support ticket about not receiving your graded mock lab.

NOTE: The password to open password-protected PDFs is your e-mail address.

My lab was scheduled for 10 am PDT (noon for me).  Sure enough, once noon rolled around there appeared a button to start the lab.  Once you click this button you will be presented with links for the PDF files for the lab, the topology, and the physical topology (cabling).  Anyone who has done the IE Volume II (or Volume III labs) will be familiar with the documentation.  You’ll get a logical Layer 3 document as well as a routing protocol map.  Although I did not need to provide a password, if you are prompted for a password for any of the PDFs, use the email address that you have registered with you IE account.

One thing to note is that the instructions on how to access your rack is located in a different part of your IE membership page.  It’s in the “My Current and Future Rack Rental Sessions” section.  You’ll probably want to familiarize yourself with the rack documentation.  I’ve rented IE racks before so I was familiar with the process.  Although I didn’t do it (only because I didn’t think about it), it’s probably a good idea to log into your rack and open your reverse telnet session before you click the button to get your documents.

One thing to be aware of is that as soon as you click the button to begin the lab the clock will start ticking.  You’re given 8.5 hours to complete the lab.  There is a cool countdown widget on your IE member page that will run through your lab so you can easily see how much time has elapsed and how much time you have left.

Mock Lab 1 Timer

As soon as you click the “start lab” button the clock starts counting down.  I didn’t think about printing the lab until after the lab had started.  Since I was at home I had to load drivers on my laptop before I could print to my ancient Canon printer.  By the time I had printed all of the documentation and logged into each of the devices I had already lost 15 minutes.  As I mentioned above, it’s a good idea to log into your rack before starting your lab.

One of the resources that becomes available once you start the lab is a zip file of the initial configurations.  I had already lost 15 minutes printing and logging in to the rack.  I was a little pissed that I would need to apply the initial configurations.  The initial configurations are already loaded on your rack so you don’t need to worry about that.  The intial configurations are provided so you can redo the lab later (or rebuild your rack if you really fuck up).  Whew!!!

So I was up and running with 8 hours and 15 minutes to go.  The IE documentation states that after 8.5 hours you will automatically be kicked off of your rack.  I’ll spare you the task of reading the rest of this post and just tell you that this did not happen in my case.  When the timer finally hit zero I was not kicked off of the rack. I didn’t make any changes at that point and the initial grading script ran within 1 hour of my time elapsing.  [I can’t remember when it ran, it may have run right after time expired, but the score was on my member page less than an hour later]  Your experience my not be the same, so I would just assume that your going to be booted off. 

As I posted earlier the grading script will run and give you an initial grade.  Don’t get too depressed about your initial score from the script as it is likely that you will get more points once a proctor reviews your lab. 

Initial Scoresheet Graded By Script

Within two business days a proctor will manually grade your lab and you’ll be able to see a web page with your final grade along with the proctor’s comments and feedback. 

Proctor Feedback

I read the complete lab and made notes before I started configuring anything.  Reading the lab and creating a simple layer 2 diagram took 22 minutes.  After that I kept track of the when I completed each task as well as how confident I was that I had earned the points.  I had completed IGP redistribution and basic BGP peering just before I took “lunch”.  Lunch turned out to be the 20 minutes I spent picking up my son from school.  🙂

I had finished all of the tasks that I felt I could complete with about 30 minutes left.  I ended up not attempting 3 tasks. I spent quite a bit of time troubleshooting an issue that was probably due to an IOS bug, but I had plenty of time to complete the lab.  I did start getting mentally fatigued about 6 hours into the lab.  If I could have stayed a little more focused I could have finish about 30 minutes earlier.  When I finished, I felt pretty good about meeting my goal of getting 80 points.

When your time expires you’ll see a new link to the solution guide.  I didn’t have the energy or inclination to look through it at the time.  I looked at it briefly this weekend.  There are no breakdowns like in the Volume II labs, only the correct configuration as well as some good verification commands.  The Graded Mock Labs are supposed to include a Class On Demand breakdown of the lab.  I haven’t received a link to that yet.  That will probably include the task breakdowns.

I’m not going to go into details about the lab itself other than to say that it was fairly easy.  The lab has a difficulty level of 6 which is easier than the actual lab.  After spending most of the prior 10 days getting my ass handed to me on level 8 labs, this lab seemed pretty easy by comparison.

On Sunday I got the email saying that my lab had been graded by the proctor.  I was very happy (and a little shocked) to find that I had scored an 89.  Since I had skipped 9 points, so I only failed one of the tasks that I attempted.  I missed it due to a stupid mistake in an ACL, but I’m not complaining because there were at least 3 tasks that I got full credit on which I was unsure about my solution. 

Proctor Graded Scoresheet

Random Thoughts:

Finishing with 30 minutes to spare is nice, but I didn’t have time to go back over my tasks to catch stupid mistakes.  I still need to increase my speed.  As I stated earlier, there was a period about 6 hours in where I lost my edge.  I was making silly mistakes and I would end up reading and rereading tasks as well as configuring things twice (because I forgot I had just configured it) as well as forgetting what device I was on.  Nothing major, but in a more difficult lab this could have been a big problem.  As it was, I think that I probably lost 20 – 30 minutes during that stretch just to lack of focus.

I need to limit myself to items that will only be available in the lab as well as curb practices that will not be allowed in the actual lab.  I’m still using Tera Term as my telnet client.  It’s not hugely different from SecureCRT, but I need to make sure that I am more familiar with SecureCRT, especially the cut and paste hot-keys/options.  I also need to stop writing notes on the lab and lab diagrams.  This is not allowed in the actual lab.  I also need to start getting used to using notepad without saving or closing the notepad instances.  Finally, I keep the lab topology open on my laptop so that it’s visible in the background while I’m working.  This is not allowed in that lab, so I need to nix that habit as well.

I was lucky.  I done over 60 hours of IE labs over the 9 days prior to my mock lab so I had more practice with some technologies that I am normally weak on.  I also watched the IEATC session on setting up a logging server and configuring NTP the night before the lab.  Normally, I would have spent much more time using the DOC CD for those topics and I probably would not have received any of the points for NTP because I totally misunderstood key aspects of that technology until literally the night before the mock lab.  Multicast was very simple.  This is the first time that I’ve ever received all of the points for Multicast so you know it was dead easy.  🙂

I knew which technology to use for each task I attempted as well as how to implement it with minimal need of the DOC CD.  I’m not saying this to brag.  I’m saying it because I still finished with only 30 minutes left.  A more difficult lab would have meant more time mining the DOC CD and therefore more time to complete the lab.  I also completely skipped three tasks.  I somehow need to pick up my speed.

Anyhoo….I’m pretty pleased with my score, but I still realize that I have a LONG ways to go before I am ready for the actual lab.

March 28, 2008

ATTACK BY PROCTOR!!!

Every few months on GroupStudy there will be a story about a CCIE candidate going to lunch and coming back to find out that the proctor has messed with their configuration.  I always figured that this was just an urban legend, but then I experienced an ATTACK BY PROCTOR firsthand.

On Wednesday I took one of Internetwork Expert’s Graded Mock Labs.  I had successfully completed IGP redistribution  and had verified that I had end-to-end connectivity via TCL scripts.  I hurried up and applied the basic BGP peerings.  Then I consoled into each device and wrote the configuration.  Just before I went to lunch (actually just a 20 minute break to pick up my son) I reloaded all of the devices. 

When I got back I ran my TCL script again and noticed that my connectivity was broken.  Between IGP redistribution and basic BGP peering my network somehow “broke”.  I figured that I must have really messed something up with my BGP configuration since everything was fine after IGP redistribution.  I went back and verified my BGP configuration and peering on each device.  Maybe I lost some configuration when I reloaded – even though I was careful to make sure that I wrote each device before reloading.  All of my BGP configuration was there so I obviously wrote each device as that was the last configuration I had completed.  All of the BGP peerings were up and I was seeing routes coming in on the peerings (the ones that should be sending routes at least).  WTF?

I didn’t want to waste a ton of time troubleshooting this mess, so I soldiered on with the exam and made a note to run the TCL scripts again later.  When I did eventually run the scripts again, my network was still broken.

I finally started to look at the individual routes that were missing.  My issue seemed to be between the hub and spokes on one of the Frame Relay networks.  I still could not find an issue with BGP.  I took a look at my OSPF neighbors and I found that my OSPF adjacencies from my hub to my spokes were gone.  I still had some routes coming in via a virtual link between my hub and one of my spokes.  How the hell did that happen?

I looked at my OSPF configuration on my hub and found that my neighbor statements to the spokes were missing.  I added them back into the configuration and then ran my TCL scripts again.  Hallelujah!!!  I had full connectivity once again.  Although I had written my configurations after each task I must have somehow not written r5’s configuration after I finished my first OSPF task?  I continued on with the lab as I only had about 20 minutes left at that point.  I did not reload the routers again before finishing the test.  I did make sure that I wrote my configurations on each device and saved out my configurations to textfiles on my desktop.  I probably verified that those neighbor statements were still on r5 about 10 times before the lab ended.  🙂

Thinking back about this issue later I realized that since my BGP configuration was still on r5 I had definitely written the configuration on that device.  The neighbor statements must have been removed when I reloaded that router.  Somehow those devious bastards at IE must have removed my configuration.  They probably have a script that somehow removes those two lines of configuration whenever r5 is reloaded.  I had experienced the dread ATTACK BY PROCTOR!!!

Or not…. 🙂

I went to ccie-in-3-months to see if Tassos had experienced any similar issues with his mock lab and found this:

…I decided to reload all routers! What was even more disastrous, was the fact that i reloaded them all at the same time and i didn’t look at their logs while booting.

The result? After the reload, something wasn’t working as expected. After a quick search I found one router which seemed not to be running OSPF. I checked its configuration (thank god I had saved all my session locally) and I found that there were two “neighbor” commands missing! I added them and reloaded again. This time I watched the logs and there was an error message saying that this particular command is not supported on this kind of topologies (a bug? command is accepted while configuring, but it’s rejected after reloading). So i saved my configuration and warned (through email) the proctor about this behavior.

Here’s his post on the Internetwork Expert Mock Lab 1 forum:

Task 4.1

After reload:

Cisco 3640 (R4700) processor (revision 0x00) with 111616K/19456K bytes of memory.
Processor board ID 13831044
R4700 CPU at 100MHz, Implementation 33, Rev 1.0
2 Ethernet interfaces
2 Serial interfaces
DRAM configuration is 64 bits wide with parity disabled.
125K bytes of NVRAM.
32768K bytes of processor board System flash (Read/Write)

OSPF: Neighbor command is allowed only on NBMA and point-to-multipoint networks
OSPF: Neighbor command is allowed only on NBMA and point-to-multipoint networks

Press RETURN to get started!

Like I said, I didn’t reload the router a second time.  I also would not have thought to watch the reload output.  So the good news is that it was not ATTACK BY PROCTOR but I was the victim of a bug.  [My network type on the hub and spoke was NBMA per the task].

This was actually a good experience as I got to do some troubleshooting under pressure.  I did fuck up my troubleshooting as I assumed that the issue was with BGP and did not troubleshoot outside of BGP until much later.  This was also a potentially disastrous experience as I would have lost an untold number of points due to not having end-to-end connectivity.  I am a bit disappointed that IE had not addressed this bug.

Oh, and the ATTACK BY PROCTOR rumor?  It’s exactly that – a rumor:

Hi Maruilio,

Thanks for the reply!!!

Could you please give a clarity on proctor’s behaviour during the Lab exam? I’ve heard that proctor’s occasionally changes the configuration while the exam is on eg- erase passwords, erase configurations, shutting down the interface, changing the IP addreses, etc. I am not sure if that’s all true? If it is, is that justified? I’ve also heard that you should not be too fast even if you know are pretty confident of your configurations because proctor’s probability of changing the configurations increases. Is that also true?

If the above is true, I also want to know to what extent are proctor’s authorised to play with the configurations during the exam?

My second query is – when the lab starts do we get all the devices with zero configurations or we have to first erase all the pre-configured inappropriate configuration on the devices?

My third query is out of curiosity – what method does proctor’s use for checking the lab created by the student?
Regards,
Saurabh Garg

Hi Saurabh,

These are all rumors and do not reflect the CCIE Lab environment.

Proctors do not touch any of the candidate’s devices during the exam.The only exception will be if a candidate thinks that something is not working because a possible failure on your rack the Proctor will ver[if]y it, but the candidate will be aware of it. Proctors do not touch or play with candidate’s configuration during or after the exam.

When you start the exam your routers and switches will have an initial configuration such IP addresses, hostnames, passwords. Depending of the exam you may have more pre-configuration. The ‘General Guidelines’ of the exam will state what you can change and what not can be changed.

We do have a process to development each question of the exam and it is based on results. By the end of the exam Proctors use an automatic tool to save the candidate’s configuration into our database and to verify some questions and do some connectivity tests like pings, verify routing tables, and so on. Then Proctors will manually verify the results and all remaining questions to come up with the final score.

Regards,
Maurilio

March 26, 2008

Internetwork Expert Graded Mock Lab 1: First Impressions

I just finished IE’s Graded Mock Lab 1.  This culminates a week and a half of hardcore labbing.  Now I get to go back to work and spend the next week and a half digging out of the work that’s been backing up over my “vacation”.

Mock Lab 1 is a difficultly level 6 lab.  That means that it’s easier than the actual lab.  After reading through the lab I felt that I had a very good chance of passing it.  There were only a couple of tasks that I was not sure how to do.  I cruised through the core tasks up until route-redistribution.  Even though the redistribution was insanely easy, I still spent a lot of time running scripts and verifying connections.  By the time I took my “lunch break” I had just completed BGP peering.

I left 9 points on the table (3 points each in BGP, Security, and IP Services).  Of those three tasks, there was only one (in IP Services) that was something completely alien to me. 

I really felt that I passed the lab.  I estimate that I scored between 75 and a 91.  There were about 4 or 5 questions that I would have asked of the proctor.

As soon as the lab is over you get an initial scoring report.  The initial score report is graded by a script.  You lab will also be graded by a proctor in the next two business days.  After that you’ll receive your final score and feedback from the proctor.

My initial score report is 70.

You Scored: 70
Date:03/26/2008
Mock Lab:R&S Mock Lab 1
Difficulty Level:6
You scored better than 69% of all students who took this lab.

Note: This mock lab was graded by our automated grading system.  A proctor will also grade your configuration and it will appear in your members site within 2 business days.

Hopefully I can get another 10 points from the proctor.  As it stands, these results mirror my experience with most of the Volume II labs.  I do really well on the all of the core IGP and switching tasks.  I then fall down a little on BGP.  Then I nosedive on the last sections.  In this case, I got 56 of the first 64 points.  That means that I only got 14 of the last 36 points.  If I score over 80 (my goal) then I will be happy.  If my score stays at 70, I will be satisfied but still a little disappointed.

I’m too tired and punch drunk to go over the solution guide right now.  I’ll post more about this lab later.

February 9, 2008

Internetwork Expert: Mock Lab Preview Page

For those of you that are planning on taking any of Internetwork Expert’s Mock Labs, they recently announced that they now have a new page where you can see previews of the mock labs as well as a sample score report.

We have also created a new preview page for our Mock Labs, be sure to take a look at it and see actual examples from each of our 7 Mock Labs that we offer!

The previews give suggested time frames for taking each lab as well as any suggested prerequisites:

Mock lab 1 should be taken roughly 4 to 6 months before your actual lab date. This mock lab can be attempted after working through the IEWB-RS Vol I labs and after viewing the IEATC-RS CoD. You should find this lab to be slightly easier than the real CCIE lab. If you are within the last month of your lab date you can still attempt this lab but you should work to complete this lab within 4 to 5 hours.

Mock lab 2 and 3 should be taken roughly 2 to 3 months before your actual lab date. You should have already completed mock lab 1 and have done at least 4 or 5 IEWB-RS Vol II labs before attempting this lab. This mock lab is designed to be on the same difficulty level as the real CCIE lab. If you are within the last month of your lab date you can still attempt this lab but you should plan to complete this lab within 6.5 hours.

Mock labs 4, 5, 6 and 7 should be taken within the last month of your actual lab date. These mock labs should only be attempted after you’ve completed the IEWB-RS Vol II labs and at least a few of the IEWB-RS Vol III labs. These labs are designed to be tougher than the real CCIE lab so you should expect these labs to take the full 8 hours to complete. A score in the high 60s or above on these labs is considered to be a good score as the difficulty level is designed to be tougher than the real lab. 

I did have some trouble launching the previews in IE 7 (tabbed), but they worked fine in Firefox (insert your own Micro$oft joke here).

December 11, 2007

Internetwork Expert: New Lab Rental Process

I logged into my IE account today and noticed something new.  There is now a “Schedule Your Own Rack Sessions” section.  It looks like they are changing the way that they rent rack time. 

They have put up a Class-On-Demand detailing how to rent rack time (and book mock labs). 

Basically you buy tokens at a dollar apiece.  Then you can use those tokens to book rack time.

You can book rack time pretty much instantaneously.  You can also reschedule or cancel a session (72 hour advance notice) and the tokens go back into your account.  There are also some other cool features coming in a few months:

GUI Remote Power Control – Powercycle devices with a single mouse click!
On-Demand Hardware Diagnostics – Eliminate the guesswork of suspected hardware problems!*
Configuration capturing, archiving, and loading – Automatically save your configs and resume later!*
Initial configuration loading – Automatically load initial configs for any Internetwork Expert product!*
* – coming Jan 2008

Depending on how much the discount is, this could be a very cool feature [as I type this, session 3 is currently available for 7 tokens so it looks like this is going work pretty well]:

Additionally this system allows you to book rack sessions that are currently in progress for a discounted rate.

The only downside that I see is with the token system.  Anyone who has been to a fair and ended up with 3 tickets leftover when the minimum number of tickets to ride is 5 understands the downfall to the token system.  Also, it looks like you can only buy tokens in groups of 15.  Most of the (R&S) sessions are multiples of 10 or 15 (15, 20, 30) so this might not be too big of a deal.  But if you’re doing a 99 token mock lab or nabbing some session in progress for 7 tokens, you can see how you could end up with a total of tokens that are not a multiple of 10 or 15.

Once they implement the automatic loading of IE initial configs and the ability to save your configs for reloading later (two huge timesavers), this will be a very nice choice for completing IE labs.  That coupled with the ability to schedule immediately and to nab some discount sessions will likely overshadow any leftover tokens issues.

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