Alirio Zavarce, CCIE #28672
After 18 months of full dedication, I finally passed the lab exam. On this last attempt, I feel that I Aced the exam. I was in control all the time. This journey took me 4 attempts total. It was a roller coaster for me; a lot of ups and downs; a lot of great moments and frustrations. One week I felt like I knew a technology well, but the next week I would forget about important details or discover that there were more key pieces I needed to know the technology at the expert level. But, I attained what I had determined to do: learn and pass the test. For my preparation I started with the Advanced Technology Class from Brian Dennis and Brian McGahan. I know this is a Version 3 video series, but the material is very relevant to the V4 blueprint. I listened to all the videos (2 weeks) several times to engrave Dennis and McGahan's explanations in my mind; their explanations are excellent! After that, I jumped into Volume II labs and referenced back to the ATP class and Volume I's great breakdowns. I did Volume II labs at least 3 times and the higher difficulty level labs 4 times. In addition, I did the Open Lecture Series several times as well. I didn't do all the Open Lectures, but the ones that contained the most relevant material that would fill in the gaps and review important concepts. Nevertheless, all Open Lectures are important. For troubleshooting, I did Volume IV about 3 times and Volume II's troubleshooting labs 2 times. After my 3rd attempt, I was devastated mainly because I thought I had done well in the configuration portion, but I failed it miserably. At that point, I didn't know what else to do. So, I wrote to Mike Bishop, my sales rep, and he referred me to the Petr Lapukhov. Petr took the time to ask me questions to understand my situation and he gave his recommendations; I was honored that he took the time to help me. I worked out "another" study plan and executed it. I also focused on individual technologies making sure I understood them well rather than just doing labs and more labs without having a "clear" understanding of certain sections. Every time I studied a technology, I made sure I went over it mentally several times (remembering the key details) during the week before jumping to the next technology. I tried to clear as many doubts and questions I had about certain concepts. I read Petr's solutions breakdowns until I understood them well. Petr, you're a genius! Your explanations are excellent and very motivating. I don't know how you do it, but the way you know technology is the way I want to know it. What's your secret?...hehe. For those of you who worry about speed, just practice and practice. Learn the individual technologies, and then do labs and more labs. Read the blogs and the labs breakdowns. Speed will come to you and you won't even notice. It was tough to spend so much time studying and away from my family, but I had a goal in mind. I thank my wife for being so understanding and supportive. She was a key piece for this achievement. Now I can go back and enjoy my family...................before I start my second CCIE...hehe.