With the blessing of the almighty Allah, I managed to pass the CCIE exam at my first attempt in Sydney, Australia! What a relief. It was a wonderful journey of 9 months of dedicated studying, spending large portion of the time on the Cisco devices, spending thousands of dollar on study materials and lab equipments, many hours of frustration, only 4/5 hours of daily sleep, travelling 16+ hours to the lab location, suffering from the Jet Lag, attending the 8 hours of lab exam and finally a 5 digit number beside my name.
So how it started? I decided to go for the CCIE when I started to work for an ISP here in Canada. But that time I was only CCNA. So I took CCNP, CCIP certifications to build up a good foundation for the CCIE R&S exam. As a part of my CCIE preparation, I went through several books (Doyle, Odom etc.), workbooks (IE), mock labs, Cisco documentation, various forums like groupstudy others. I spent thousands of hours on equipments. I was lucky enough to have my own rack of equipments.
Finally, when I planned to book my lab exam, I was unable to find any seat in USA (as I live in Canada). This is because Cisco recently announced to start the new format of CCIE R&S lab exam from October, 2009. So finding no other ways, I booked my lab in Sydney, Australia. I made a 16+ hours journey to Australia and reached there just before the exam day.
On lab day, I was in the Cisco building about 1 hour before the exam time. There were 4 other candidates... we all were waiting for the proctor to show up. The proctor was late, so our exam started at 9:15. The first 30 minutes was for the OEQ (Open Ended Questions). The OEQ questions were really really easy, very basic questions. No need to give any extra afford for those. Accoring to the proctor, those are marked manually by the proctor, and all they look for is the specific answer, they won't care about any spelling mistake or grammer. I was able to finish the OEQ in 20 minutes and started my lab immediately. I used the first 45 minutes reading the entire lab, making task tracking sheet, adding aliases/some common commands which I often use. After reading the lab it looked like a piece of cake to me comparing to the IE labs. I was able to reach "the golden moment" (full connectivity) before lunch. I was also able to do some non-core tasks before lunch. After lunch it went pretty smooth. I only visited the Cisco documentation site only once for a single task during the lab. When I finished my lab, I still had 2 hours left in my hand. So I fully utilized it by verifing every single task twice. In the whole exam I rebooted my rack twice - 1st time just before lunch and 2nd time at the end of the day.
After the exam I realized I have a good chance to pass it. And it didn't take very long. I got my result within 2 hours of finishing the exam. I was completely speechless to see my certified status along with the 5 digit number.
To tell you the truth, I was completely restless for the last 1.5 years. I used my vacation days either for studing or for the exams. So it's time for me to relax for a bit until I start my 2nd track.
So what's next? I am planning to attend the CCIE Service provider lab this December (after 4 months) as I feel like i am already 70% prepared for it. I also want to start playing with the "Security" track.
Finally, I would like to thank my family, my friends, my colleagues and everyone who helped me directly or indirectly along my first CCIE journey.
The key thing is... if you want something really bad you will get it… Motivaton and patience are the key factors… Always remember: "Winners never Quit & Quitters never win!!"