For those of you that follow my Twitter, you know I am Raleigh for another attempt at my CCIE R&S exam. I got here Saturday night and just had my exam yesterday, Monday at RTP. I went into this exam feeling very good as I had recently put huge amount of focus in with studying of BGP and MPLS. I had a whole day of quiet study in the hotel Sunday too, so I was looking good in that regard. For some reason though, my nerves were on edge this time like no other. Literally sick to my stomach from Saturday night until the exam Monday morning. But then, Monday morning came and it was on.

The waiting game

Monday morning I got to RTP building three early as I like to do before exams and got to waiting in the lobby. I got to talking to some of the other guys about how we prepped for the exam and what we were each going for. We had everything from RS to Security to Service Provider. Even a couple Mobility candidates. It was a very busy day in the lab. All I know is the time had come, I was ready to finally do this.

Exam Time


Got into troubleshooting and things were good. I ended up getting 8 of the 10 tickets fixed and verified against the sample output in the exam they give you to match, such as a traceroute. The problem was I ended up burning a good bit of time on one of the tickets and ran into my extra half hours of time that I stole from config. The fix ended up being something stupid I should have know to check for from last time. Oh well, 8 of 10 was enough to pass the section I thought, so I moved on with a positive attitude.


I LOVE the Diag section. Without mentioning what it consists of, it’s right up my wheelhouse to how I normally try to troubleshoot things at work, so I was VERY happy with that. You have a half hour to complete this and can’t move on until that half hour is complete. It took me 12 minutes to complete this whole section of the exam. I used the restroom, got a drink, and even closed my eyes for a minute. It was awesome to have this small break before Config. My thoughts are that I nailed this portion with no issues.


I love to hate this section. It’s a huge topology with some things pre-configured and some not. Just because something looks pre-configured, double check- it may be wrong! Against my hopes for this exam, it was a different version than the one I got last time. Oh well. Same technologies, just a different setup. I was very confused by how the actual topology worked at first, so I put some thought into things to just get it straight in my head. Made complete sense once I did that. I completed almost twice as much before lunch as I did on my previous exam attempt. I felt awesome going into break and was in a great mood. After lunch, which was very good by the way, I had mostly the routing protocols left and the “extras” as I call them such as one off tasks.

I worked through the remaining items of the exam at a good pace. One of the tasks had me entering a command that I thought was right. Well, it wasn’t and I broke everything, haha. A while later I realized my stupid mistake, went back, and fixed it. Pings and traceroutes were working across the board. Awesome. While I was taking a break from that issue, I completed the last two major sections of the exam in about 45 minutes. This was a large section of points that felt good to get. I HIGHLY recommend stepping away from a question if you hit a roadblock. I didn’t do this on my first attempt and that’s why I ran out of time.

The one thing I focused on this time was notepad. I typed all of my configs into notepad and pasted them into devices. That way, for other routers of the same routing protocol for instance, the bulk was done and I just had to change a few minor things before pasting it in another device. MAJOR time saver.

The exam was winding down for my and I had about an hour and 15 minutes left. All of the tasks were “completed”. That being said I knew a few weren’t working, so I had time to go back and troubleshoot. I was checking pings and traceroutes over again ensuring they were still working. I did have a few sections I know I didn’t get working. Just makes it easier to know what to study now! 3:50pm came and we were done. I headed out and called it a day. I gave it my best and that’s all I could do.

Keep on refreshing that email

I stayed up til about 11 at the hotel and had no emails. I really couldn’t sleep because I knew it would be close if I passed or not. I woke up every half hour from there on out. Luckily that didn’t last too long. 12:30am I got my email that my results were up. I logged into the CCIE portal and saw that I had failed. That got me wondering what I missed. I clicked the link and saw the one thing I was hoping I’d never see:

I had encountered the dreaded PASS-PASS-PASS-FAIL scenario people always talk about. I met the requirements to pass in each area, but not the overall score that I needed to get my number. That feeling sucks, let me just say that.

Next time

Now I know I’m as close as possible to passing the exam. I know what I need to study and should be able to get it from here. I’ve seen two different TSHOOT exams, two different DIAG exams, and two different CONFIG exams. I have a laundry list of things I can and will study up on for next time. I am also going to handle this differently for next time in terms of booking the exam. In the past I booked a date 3 months out and then worked towards that date. This time I will not be booking my exam until I feel 100% ready. This should take the pressure off if I randomly get stuck on my studies. I won’t have a date looming over my head.

Otherwise, I am going on with a positive attitude. I came as close as possible without passing so I know my studying is working, I just need to kick it up that one remaining small bit that I can. I will give it all my effort for next time and get it done.


Thank you for all the support on Twitter from everyone before my exam. It truly felt awesome to have a group of people cheering me on before this test. You guys are all awesome!


  1. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for taking the time to write this. It sucks that you had to fail but it definitely sounds like you are going to be a CCIE in the future. I’m studying for the CCNP right now, maybe I’ll be in your shoes someday. Your account of this experience is very informative so thanks again.

    Kind regards,
    Jaap de Vos


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