CCIE R&S Written – Epic WIN!

The wife and I had a romantic day driving several hours to a small town to take Cisco exams.  If this doesn’t get me some action, I don’t know what else to try.

I’ve already used the phrases “skin of my teeth” and “a pass is a pass” on Twitter today for good reason.  Passing is a score of 790, and I blew that away with a 790.  One more lapse in concentration and I would have been making up more excuses instead of smiling.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I have this weird reaction to taking exams where I don’t get nervous at all until after I’m finished.  Walking into the testing center, I was fine.  Walking out, I was shaking like Northern Virginia.  It was so bad that I could barely hold on to the door knob when trying to leave, so I guess that I’m really prouder than I thought I was.

The exam was a total piece of crap.  Nearly every diagram was so compressed and blurry that I couldn’t see them at all.  Most of the time I can infer what the diagram is showing, but, when your bridge priorities are listed there, it’s pretty hard to find root ports.  Absolutely horrible.  There were the inevitable spelling errors in there, too.  Most of those are fine, but were talking about, but it’s pretty unacceptable to have spelling errors in this exam.  Of course, there were also the questions that I feel are unanswerable.  Switches in VTP transparent mode behave differently from version 1 to version 2, eh?

After being recommended at Cisco Live this year, I added the Boson ExSIM-Max to the pile of prep materials.  It not only helped teach a few new things, but it cleared up a bunch of foggy details.  I’m sure that using any other study materials will do the same to some extent, but the Boson stuff provided something else – it helped to teach me to take the exams.  I was able to go through the questions and practice figuring out what was being asked, which choices were completely wrong, and how to not get utterly frustrated with the questions.  Practice makes perfect, right?

The wife came with me to take her ICND1 exam.  She did better than she thought she would, but, alas, no dice this time.  She says that she’s glad she’s been through it now and knows exactly what to study.  I’m trying to convince her to start her own blog since she’s starting up her cert journey from such a unique place.  We’ll see how that works out.

What’s next?  I have to find a company to help me prep for the lab now.  I’m sure that’s not cheap at all.  Maybe I should just blindly sit the lab and see what happens.  Maybe not.  🙂

Aaron Conaway

I shake my head around sometimes and see what falls out. That's what lands on these pages. If you have any questions, the best way to contact me is through Twitter at @aconaway.

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14 comments for “CCIE R&S Written – Epic WIN!

  1. Ben
    August 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Congratulations, and good luck for the lab now ! The best is coming 🙂

  2. August 24, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Congratulations! You and your wife certainly have a unique relationship but that’s a great thing. Uniqueness makes thing last a lifetime. 🙂

    I went through something similar to you and I decided to blindly sit the lab. I scored very, very low (25/100 or so) but I will say it made all the difference in my studies. I felt so much more prepared the second time I took the exam (which I passed with flying colors).

    I think that first attempt helped me in ways study courses simply could not. So for anyone reading your blog that may be in your shoes, I’d say sit the lab!

    Best of luck in your future endeavors!

  3. August 24, 2011 at 9:19 am

    That rocks that you passed!!! One more step to getting your number.

  4. August 24, 2011 at 9:54 am


    Congrats on the pass! I too find the quality of this $350 exam infuriating.
    “relentlessly focused on our customers”

    And yet complaints about illegible exhibits on the current exam date back to when it was in beta.

    On the transparent mode thing, there’s something to do with a password checking. I think VTPv1 switches in transparent mode check domain and password, drop updates that don’t pass the check. Maybe it’s the other way around.

  5. @Ecologu
    August 25, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Congrats… told you my b-day will be lucky for you :))

  6. August 25, 2011 at 7:57 am

    great news, I’m so happy for you 🙂
    good-luck with the lab and good-luck to your wife

  7. August 25, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Congratulations Aaron! Thank you for using ExSim-Max and also for sharing your feedback. Good luck with your lab!

  8. August 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Congrats Aaron! Glad it finally worked out. I saw “Epic Win!” on my rss feed and had to take a peek 😉

    I guess that’s one more to cross of the 2011 Goals list.

  9. Bob
    September 10, 2011 at 1:06 am

    I must have missed the news on Twitter that you passed the written! Great going. Let’s see who gets some digits first! 😉

  10. Steve B
    September 12, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Congrats, now you can say goodbye to your social life 😉

    I just passed CCNP Switch and can help out with that oddball VTP Q.

    I’ve read about confusion over whether Version 1 Transparent mode doesn’t forward at all or only depending on domain names set etc

    Thrashed out at the link nicely. Short Version = v1 and v2 Transparent mode act the same nowadays but the Cisco books still say otherwise.

  11. MikeInSeoul
    September 13, 2011 at 12:37 am

    I find it very interesting that you saw the problem with the diagrams being overly compressed and blurry. I saw the exact same problem on the CCNA Security and ASA Advanced (CCSP) exams, both in the last 6 months or so. I also saw similar problems with spelling and transposed letters in places.

    This obviously isn’t an isolated problem with Cisco’s test materials. But how to go about getting them to actually FIX it?

    I’ve always figured any comments given at the end of the exam just go down some blackhole, never to be read.

    BTW — congrats on the pass, and good luck on the lab!!

  12. August 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    You like Bobby Bouchet. The CCIE R&S written exam is the “devil”.

    Let Cisco Mama comb ya hair for awhile. Get ready for bed.

    That CCIE R&S written exam is so ornery. That’s why it got all dem teeth. See ya got to focus Bobby. See the big picture. Passing is like little rays of sunshine.

    Obviously dude I’m drunk. Please forgive me.

  13. 350-001_Hater
    August 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Curious to know what your score sheet says about the exam version. My recent one says “350-001 CCIE RS Written Exam A.” Unlike previous sittings going back many years, the exam that I passed recently but failed a few weeks prior had zero illegible graphics. I commend Cisco on that very signifiant improvement. However, the exam remains a laughing stock of nonsense trivia quizzing. By memorizing a bunch of worthless BS, I improved my score from nearly passing to nearly perfect. That shouldn’t be the case – this isn’t some entry-level exam where it’s kinda OK to make you pay your dues with memorizing who-care factoids.

    Oh, and congratulations – a pass is a pass fer shure!! Best with the lab…I found it much easier than the written, personally…

  14. September 12, 2013 at 5:31 am

    I’m glad to hear Boson is working for you. I just took CCNA Security using a Boson practice exam and CBT Nuggets to refresh my knowledge from the (now obsolete) IINS course I took last year and voila! I passed 1 question shy of 900! That was a confidence booster for sure…

    Is there any way to follow your blog? I couldn’t find it.

    Cheers from Germany!

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