Second CCIE Lab attempt

So, my second attempt also resulted in a fail. This time was different though. While during my first attempt I was largely overcome by nerves and daunted by the sheer size of the lab that wasn’t the problem for this attempt. Of course I still had my share of nerves before the start, but it was nowhere near as bad.

Last time I failed due to time restraints. I wasn’t able to finish the lab. This time I did, even with some time to spare, but I failed on troubleshoot. During the lab I already knew troubleshoot was a weak section and if I were to fail it would probably be because of troubleshoot. I used up the full 2,5 hours again (even though I swore I would not do that), but my score at two hours would have been a guaranteed fail. That’s why I decided I would stick with troubleshoot and try to finish as many tickets as possible.

This time I chose a different approach for Tshoot. I remember from last time that my nerves really started acting up after I was unable to finish the first 4 point trouble ticket, so I decided this time to focus my attention on the 2 point tickets first. Get them done as soon as possible and use the remaining time for the four pointers.

Unfortunately, the second two pointer already gave me troubles and this didn’t change during the rest of the tshoot section. After 2,5 hours I counted the tickets I managed to finish, 7 out of 10 and possibly 1 of them in violation of the restrictions (and that one a four pointer). Time was up, so it had to do. If I was lucky it would be sufficient to pass tshoot. So after that I gave it all during the rest of the exam.

One of the diagnose tickets was really easy. The other one took a bit longer, but still I managed to finish them both in 20 minutes, so that meant I had some 10 minutes of break time. So very very sad I couldn’t go back to tshoot at that point…

Once configure started I immediately dove in. I did the layer 2 section without first reading through the rest of the exam. L2 is largely independent from the rest of the exam (not the other way around) and I wanted to get as much of it done before lunch. I managed to finish and verify all but one L2 section before lunch, so that was a good score (considering I used the 2,5 hours for troubleshoot).

After lunch I quickly finished the last L2 section and set to reading the rest of the exam. I made notes on which sections were dependent on other sections and I decided on a plan to configure everything. This caused me to work through the lab in a seemingly haphazard way, but I made use of my scrap paper to keep track of which sections I finished and which I still needed to do.

In the end I decided to skip one assignment. I had about 15 minutes left and it was in a technology I don’t feel super comfortable with. It’s also a technology that could have destroyed everything I had worked for so far, so I was done with about 15 minutes to spare. Again, if only I could go back to the troubleshoot section…

Later that night I got the report. I failed troubleshoot. And what’s worse, even a few of the tickets I considered fixed were rejected.


Considering the preparation for this exam. It was mostly a continuation of the previous preparation. After my last exam I went on holiday and didn’t study for the rest of the month. Since november I started picking up labs again, mostly during the evenings. The last week before the exam was the same as the last week before the previous attempt. A whole week of study time. I combined labs with theory (like I said last time). A great resource for the last few weeks is the INE Cram session. It’s a lot of theory in a short amount of time and also a run through of two full mock labs. These are very valuable in the preparation.

What’s next?

A third attempt of course. I’m planning to do that one somewhere in april, but I haven’t set a date yet. In the preparation I will focus on some of the technologies which I feel can use some improvement, but it will largely be full scale labs and troubleshoot practice.