Lab Attempts (Part 3 of 3)
Lab Attempt #1
I flew out early Thursday just in case there were any flight issues or delays. It is a good thing I did. It just so happened that a nice winter storm was rolling through North Carolina and surrounding states. It wasn’t very bad, but it was more ice/freezing rain than they were used to. My flight was delayed about 4 hours, but I still arrived in RTP with plenty of daylight.
After getting my rental car and checking into my hotel. I mapped out my exact route to Cisco’s campus. I then jumped in my car and drove there. I found where building 3 was and where I should be parking. I highly, highly recommend everyone does this because you don’t want to be surprised by any construction detours or bad directions. I found something for dinner, and then settled into my hotel room for a very anxious night.
The next morning I woke up about 5:45a, showered, packed, and headed downstairs for some breakfast. I left my hotel about 6:30a, ran to Starbucks for some coffee and then proceeded to Building 3.
I arrived about 20 minutes early so I sat in my car and mentally went over my strategy, talked to my wife, and tried to calm my nervousness. The proctor let us into the building where I waited another 5 minutes or so making some nervous and awkward small talk with the other candidates. The proctor led us back to the testing room, went over all of the rules, and it was go time.
After the exam I was feeling good, but I knew I didn’t pass. I was able to get through all of the questions, but I ran out of time for troubleshooting and a second round of testing. Just before time was called, I added up the points of everything I knew was not working and it was more than 20.
It was a long flight home…
Lab Attempt #2
After my first attempt, I took about a month off of any heavy studying. My wife and I went on vacation to celebrate her getting her Master’s Degree, and frankly, I needed a break. However, I did schedule another lab attempt for the end of February.
I started to get back into it about 6 weeks before my scheduled lab. I went through the same study habits that I had before, but this time I didn’t spend that much time with remote sessions. I believe I scheduled two just prior to flying out.
There is one big thing I regret prior to the attempt. On the Friday before my exam (it was scheduled for the following Monday), I decided it was going to be a good idea to entirely switch up my exam strategy. I switched to a strategy that had me mapping out the entire exam and then going through it device by device. You have probably seen it demonstrated at CiscoVoiceGuru.
I did all of the same things I did prior to my first attempt. I actually stayed in the same hotel, flew the same airline, ate in the same general area. I arrived about 10 minutes early, quickly talked to my wife and mentally prepared myself for what I was hoping to be my last attempt.
After this exam, I was very depressed and pissed off. I knew it was a bad idea to switch up my strategy that close to my lab, but I went ahead and did it any ways. I didn’t think this lab was harder than the first, but there were a lot of things that I didn’t get working and pretty much about 1p I knew I wasn’t going to pass.
It was a long and slightly drunk flight home…
Lab Attempt #3
After my second attempt, I took about 2 weeks off from any type of CCIE related anything. I need to clear my head and make sure that is was something I still really wanted. I realized that I had worked so hard and come this far, I wasn’t going to quit when I knew I was close. I scheduled my next attempt for mid May.
Again, I stuck with the same study methods, but this time I actually practiced the new strategy for more than a day. It made a whole lot of sense to me and I felt that I was getting through the labs a lot quicker that ever before. I concentrated on QoS, UCCX, CUME features, and GK/CUBE configuration. I felt these were my weakest points.
During this whole time, my wife and I bought a house, packed and moved. Looking back on it, it also probably wasn’t a good idea. But, hindsight is 20-20 right?
This time I only scheduled one remote session right before my exam so I could work through some stuff in Unity Express.
On this trip, I was doing everything completely different. I flew a different airline, stayed in a different hotel, ate in a different area, and tried to relax more the night before. The only thing that was the same is that I fell asleep watching Total Recall, just like attempt #2.
I got a terrible nights sleep and woke up a little late. I had enough time to shower, pack and eat a quick breakfast. I arrived at Building 3 about 10 minutes early. The proctor did all of her usual stuff and attempt 3 was beginning.
I walked out of this exam feeling great. I made it through the entire exam with a few hours to spare. I was able to go through everything twice, testing and retesting to make sure everything was working and displaying properly. There were things that I knew were not working, and thing that I was iffy on, but those only added up to 14 points. I was confident that I had aced many of the sections, so I was not worried.
This flight home was very long (due to may delays) and a little drunk, but I was in a much better mood.
The Next Morning
I woke up for work the next morning and checked for that fateful email. It was there, it said I passed, and I have to say it was one of the best days of my life.