Passing the CCIE lab exam is a bitch. Why? Because there is a lot to it, and I’m not talking about technical stuff only.
Many talented technology oriented guys are failing the CCIE lab exam each day. And it’s not that they are not familiar with the technology, trust me they are. They probably spent hundreds of hours in the lab, not to mention the theoretical reading.
And still, the bigger they are the harder they fall. But Why???
Let us try to break it down.
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Preparation is key
Simply put, failing to pass the CCIE lab exam is a byproduct of improper preparation.
“What are you talking about?? This is an 8 hours pure technical exam and I cracked the hell out of my lab, besides I was familiar with the topics like the palm of my hand”.
Well, it might be true to some extent, but can you honestly tell me that you can win a slalom ski competition after practicing pure downhill for a year? Same skills, a whole different strategy to go with it.
It took me two failed attempts to understand what i was doing wrong and what had to be done to pass the exam.
I never thought I would need anyone to guide me through the complexities of the exam so I had to learn my lessons the hard way.
Technology wasn’t the main problem for me in my exams, but I was still failing.
I have learned so much from my first exam that I have finished my second exam ahead of time when everything was working. And I still didn’t pass. It was heartbreaking. I didn’t understand what else could they possibly want? But there was still work to be done.
I had to think hard on what I was doing wrong and how I could fix it.
I passed the third attempt with no sweat. It’s that feeling of definiteness that you are on the right track, when you feel completely “in the moment” and hours pass by without any notice, that reassures you that your preparations are complete.
So what is it then, what was I doing wrong?
Here are the major reasons most of us fail the CCIE lab exam:
Lack of understanding of the requirements
This is a major one.
Unfortunately, the CCIE lab exam is not written in plain English. Your reading comprehension should really be top-notch and even then you might have to guess what is actually required of you.
Fortunately, there is a solution to the problem. There are proctors in the exam and while they will not say anything to direct you to the right answer, they can be useful if you are not sure about the question.
The rule of thumb here is: If you are not sure, ask! can’t emphasize it enough. Hesitation in this stage could have devastating consequences.
Lack of feedback
And trust me one this one!
Many of us are lone wolves and it is so much easier for us to close ourselves in the lab for the weekend and work around the clock rather than drop a line on a forum to verify our understanding.
Rule of thumb, if you just ‘think you know’, check again!
Go out there, consult your peers, write in a forum, get feedback and find a way to verify your answers and understanding.
Lack of definite strategy
“Success is 20% skill and 80% strategy”, Jim Rohn.
So much can and has been written on this subject and for a good reason.
There are several topics that fall under this category
– Time Management
– Time wasters and when to let go
Each of these topics deserves its own post but the bottom line here is that you have to understand what you are up against and furthermore, build a strategy on how you are going to attack it.
Here is a list of some good reads that can help you start building your full lab strategy.
- Priceless 5 parts strategy guide from ucguerrilla.
- Cisco top tips for the exam.
- Matthew Berry‘s device based approach
- Adam’s 5 phase approach
Some final thoughts
Don’t underestimate the power of studying groups, get tons of feedback early on and talk to someone who’s been through the CCIE adventure or even better, get a mentor, which would probably be the smartest thing you could do towards your CCIE.
Drop me a line if you need any help getting started. Best of luck!
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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