About the lab.

By Barooq
About my experience of the lab, let’s start with basics.

Was the lab very difficult?
No, to be true, I found it ridiculously easy. I was done in three and half hours, spent next three and half verifying more than a dozen times, and left an hour early.
It may seems like my holier than thou attitude, but right after I reached hotel I had a chat with Daniel Hammerstein, who frequently comments on cciecandidate.com. And he can vouch that I said the same thing to him, even before my result came. That apart from one interpretation (silly language to blame here) and one corner case question, the lab was ridiculously easy. So 94 out of 100 marks were up for grabs for anyone who studied well enough.

So it was all that easy and no glitches?

That’s also not true. A particular question bugged the hell out of me. And guess what, it was an interpretation problem. And while leaving the lab, the only thing I was thinking was that if my interpretations were right, I couldn’t fail. But the uncertainty kept me on edge until I saw the result.

Was there any obscure technologies/out of the world questions?
Yes … One question was something I couldn’t have dreamed about showing up. Luckily my practice of focusing on documentation as lab prep paid off and though it was a corner case (mind you a very easy one only if you know it), I didn’t even have to look at DOC CD.

How’d you rate the difficulty level of CCIE lab?

Compared with IEWB labs, I’d say a 5 or 6.
Why I’d rate the lab like that. Well the breadth of technologies tested was broad, but IE labs generate problems within themselves, for example redistribution causes loops, preferring a path some time causes RFP failures in multicast, some security features break connectivity. Means a task, simple as maybe, often causes deep running problems. CCIE lab tested knowledge about everything and then some, but questions were fairly independent and they question didn’t cause hidden problems. That is why I think lab was easy.

Was DOC CD available and were there any broken links?

I only accessed 3560 configuration guide and that was accessible without a problem.

What about lab facility?

Well Dubai has a small room for CCIE lab, with 5 seats. We were four people in the same room.
At least in Dubai, you are provided with different color highlighters and plethora of lead pencils.

A word about the Proctor?

Mr.Zia was an extremely nice guy. Not very helpful in my particular case though 
I bugged him throughout for the same question and he told me that I was over thinking the issue. To be fair, I was asking him the question in format of “Is it A or B?” and he couldn’t give away the answer  But later I rephrased the question and he did his best to eliminate my confusion. Needless to say, in a high pressured environment like the lab, confusions don’t go away easy. He was also very friendly and not snobbish at all.

How I approached the Lab?

Well, I started of by drawing a L3 diagram. L2 diagrams were provided and were very clear, and so were L3 diagrams, but to be able to write on the paper, and avoid turning back the pages, I drew my own diagram.
I spent the first 20 minutes reading the lab, drawing L3 diagram and creating aliases.
By one and half hour I had completed the L2 section. By the way, my particular lab had a very heavy L2 section.
I was done with IGP and verification by two and half hours and then everything flew by. I mean in an hour I was able to do security, BGP, multicast, Ip services and QOS with around 10 minute each on every section. Here the questions were straight forward without any ambiguities and often very very simple if you know what you are doing.
I didn’t draw a bgp diagram, but I strongly recommend it. On my L3 (IGP) page; I used a different color maker to designate BGP.

Lunch was after 5 hours in my case. By Lunch time I had gone over the verification at least four times and was still worried about my interpretation of a particular question.
I didn’t eat anything during lunch, so cannot comment on quality of food.

After the lunch break, I started verification again. This time around, I’d sh runn before running the verification commands and went over each question 6 or 7 time again.
Around 7 hours into lab, I’ve had enough  and couldn’t stand to sit there anymore, so I left sweating and hoping.

I couldn’t sleep and kept on checking t email 10 times an hour. Around 2 AM I received the email that my score report is available, and between the time I clicked on the link and saw the report, I kept trembling and all my confidence went down the drain :P
Its been around 24 hours and I am still high like I am on speed: D and loving the feeling.

What Next?

Haven’t thought about it, and will not at least during September again 

I will write another post in coming days on my views on preparation and advice for CCIE candidates. So keep checking the pages.

4 comments so far.

  1. Anonymous September 19, 2008 at 3:51 PM
    Congrats Barooq, waiting for your detail LAB assessment and helping steps for those who are thier on way to get it:)
  2. Anonymous September 20, 2008 at 2:14 AM
    Congrats! Your performance are impressive! What a speed!

    Can't wait your next post, I've just completed CCNP track and gonna start my CCIE journey asap. Now I'm looking for the best material for CCIE preparation. I don't want to waste my time with ten manuals on my desk, hope your advices will help.
  3. The Ferret September 22, 2008 at 2:36 PM
    Well done Barooq!! Really looking forward to your lab preparation post and thanks very much for this post it was really informative.
  4. Anonymous October 16, 2008 at 10:11 AM
    Hi Barooq, Congratulation on your achivement. From your friend in Malaysia.

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