Andrew Forest, CCIE #25526


Hi All, I Just wanted to let you know I passed my CCIE R&S lab exam on my first attempt last week in Brussels. I have been a silent reader of GS for over one year now, this is my first post, but I?m sure it won?t be my last I started my cisco education out when I attended CCNA evening courses at my local college. I knew from then I wanted to make it to ccie level. I worked hard through my course, really enjoying it and finished with a nice mock CCNA lab. From leaving college I didn?t touch another cisco router until about 2 years later, when i bought my first cisco 2600. I bought the router because of the fact I had forgotten everything I learnt in college, and still hadn?t attempted my CCNA exam. So 1 router grew into 2, and a couple of 2950?s were added to the mix. After studying on my home lab, I eventually passed the CCNA exam in August 2006, 4 years after the college course. At which point, I went out and got myself a new job. With one of the first things to do when starting the job was to gain CCDA certification. Still feeling good from my CCNA pass, I went ahead with the CCDA and passed in November 2006. From then on I stared working my way though CCNP books, one at a time. My lab at home grew bigger, my Dad found me 2 X 3640 routers and by some strange luck 3 X 2500 routers as well. Strange things some people throw out! These all helped me get though the 4 CCNP exams, with the BSCI being the hardest. I ended up gaining my CCNP in August 2007. Next, I went for the CCDP certification. My manager had expressed interest in the cert, so eager to impress, I went out and achieved that. Wasn?t too bad after the CCNP exams! So, after all that I found myself sitting at home with my CCNP/DP and a half built rack of cisco equipment. I knew I wanted to go for CCIE, but just didn?t have enough equipment to study on. So I started with the CCIE Written exam in December 2008, and passing March 2008. I looked into dynamips, for around a month or so, but found I was much happier using real equipment, so I decided to make the investment into my home rack. I went out and bought 2 X 3560?s, 2 X 3550?s, 4 x 2600XM?s and a APC masterswitch, all from ebay. This took around 6 months to buy / build, and really cost me time when I should have been studying! But after the lab was fully built and I was able to access it from home / work / holiday I felt much happier. I think this is one of the key things to my success, to have unlimited access to your own equipment, without worrying about time or money was very important to me. In the meantime, I persuaded my manager to fund my first attempt in Brussels for September this year. I managed to book up just before the V4 announcement was made. My written exam was due to expire late September, so I knew I was cutting it fine.. I started out on Internetwork experts VOL1 (V5) Workbooks, man what a shock! The depth and detail of these workbooks were really overwhelming, but i knew I had come too far to turn back now. I pressed ahead with VOL1, and finally finished them in August this year. I had just about run out of time, 3 weeks before lab day I started the INE VOLII workbooks. I found these labs showed up a lot of my mistakes, and I started to get worried. I also struggled to finish the labs in under 2 days! I took the time to try and work out the solutions without just looking at the answers. I made pages and pages of notes, which i took with me everywhere so I could read up whenever I couln?t access my home lab. I also used 4 X 4 hour sessions on the cisco ASET labs, the week before my exam. I didn?t have enough time to attempt the full scale labs so I just focused on the modular technology labs. (BGP/QoS/Redistribution) I found these were really good, slightly different wording / structure compared to INE Workbooks which were a real eye opener! So, I caught the eurostar from London St Pancras to Brussels on Tuesday last week. This worked out quite cheap (B#29 each way) but was shocked when I had to get a taxi from Brussels MIDI station to the hotel, costing 42 euros! Brussels MIDI is approx 11km from the cisco / hotels area. Looking back it may have been cheaper to fly into Brussels airport and catch the free shuttle bus to the hotels. So be warned! I didn?t sleep much the first night, about 4-5 hours or so, waking up around 10am the next morning. I took this time to walk to the testing centre, be warned it is not the HUGE cisco building with the glowing sign on it, it is the building just behind that one. After finding the right building I confirmed all the details for the next day and went back to my hotel room to study. That night, I read through some more of the VOLII labs and refreshed my mind with Doyle?s TCP/IP 1+2. I tried not to study too much as I was already feeling tired from the 2 weeks of solid revision and wanted to keep my energy for the big day. Lab Day, I woke up 5:30, took a shower and started my walk down to the testing centre. I arrived there at 7am, greeted by the security guard. I was the first one there. Other candidates arrivied about half an hour later, no-one really talking, just sitting nervously sipping coffee. 8am, Bruno the proctor made an appearance, he welcomed us and escorted us up to the testing rooms. I asked if it was ok to bring in a couple of cans of energy drink into the exam, he was fine with it. For those smokers out there, be warned you can only smoke during lunchtime. Which was about half an hour anyway, so not much time to get your nicotine fix in! Fortunatley I wore a nicorette patch which helped me throughout the day. OEQ?s were first on the list, which I took around 15 minutes to answer them, after checking them 5 times of course! Again, you?ve heard it here on the list, they are not to be feared. If you have read up on your books from Doyle / Odom then you will have no problems with this section. Lunch was very good! Large selection of Steak / Chips / Fish / Thai noodles. I went for the noodles, however I only took a couple of mouthfulls as I was so nervous. Chatted a little with the other candidates, all on their first attempts mostly doing R&S but there was a couple of voice / security candidates. I finished the lab around 3:30pm with about 1hr and half to go back and check my work. Good thing I did as I found 2 mistakes the second time around, worked through them and corrected them as best I could. The last hour was probably the worst part as all of the self doubt came into play and I started questioning my solutions. I carried on tweaking until about 30mins before exam end time, with a couple of things bothering me but didn?t want to make any major changes this late in the day and just decided to leave them as is. I left the lab with a good feeling, I knew I?d given it my best shot and felt thouroughly exhausted. I met one of the candidates outside that wasn?t looking too good. He told me he felt it didn?t go well and he was on his 9th attempt at the voice track. I was shocked, I couldn?t believe that it could take someone 9 attempts to pass the lab. From then on, my self doubt grew and grew? On the train ride home, (another 54 euros) taxi ride to the station, I went through the lab over and over in my head. I realised I had forgotten some stupid commands. And started counting up the points that I thought I?d missed. I arrived back in the UK around 9pm and made it home for around 10. Checked my email, no score report. So I cracked open a bottle of cider I had saved for my return. Midnight came, still no score report. Me and my girlfriend were both watching my laptop screen waiting for the email to come in. I didn?t feel good. Then at 12:30 the email came through, I logged in and checked and it was a PASS!!! Thank god! I didn?t really know how to react, I checked it over and over just to be sure, but when I saw my number I knew it was real! So just to recap, the study methods I used to gain CCIE R&S were: ? Internetwork Expert Workbooks VOL1+2 ? Internetwork Expert COD ? Internetwork Expert Audio Class ? IPExpert?s RS Quizzer ? Jared Scrivener?s free CCIE vLecture COD?s ? Cisco ASET modular Labs ? Doyle?s TCP/IP VOL1+2 ? Odom?s, R&S Certification Guide ? Krzysztof ZaEDski?s Quick Review Kit ? Jeremy Cioara?s CBT Nuggets (Old but still relevant) ? GroupStudy ? + Many blogs / websites / forums I found online.. I wanted to thank everyone for contributing to this list, this has been one of the best resources I have found for CCIE certification online. Before I found groupstudy CCIE felt like a lonely journey, until I found all of you! I want to thank all the instructors out there, 2 X Brians, Scott Morris, Anthony Sequeira, Narbik and of course Paul Borghese for keeping this list running. Kind Regards, Andrew Forest CCIE# 25526

- Andrew Forest, CCIE #25526 (CCIE Routing & Switching)