CCIE R&S Written — Epic Fail (Again Again)

On Friday, and for the fourth time, I took the CCIE R&S Written exam (350-001).  For the third time, though, I failed.  Let me tell you, I am absolutely devastated.  I worked my buns off for the past few weeks, but I’m obviously missing some important piece to put me over the top.

Not only was I disappointed with my overall score, I was disappointed by my score in some of the focus areas.  For God’s sake, I made a 50% on each of the routing and switching sections, which is just absolutely embarrassing.  I mean, this is my bread and butter here.  This is what I do all day every day, and I could only muster a 50%?

What exactly went wrong this time?  I didn’t go out drinking into the night before just to have to get up early for the exam. I actually studied 2 or 3 hours per night for a few weeks before the attempt.  I was well rested and confident.  It’s all makes for a passing grade, doesn’t it? It seems like it would, but I guess we’ll all wrong.

For the first time, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the depth of the questions.  I usually have some sense of what’s going on (within reason), but this sitting, though, hit me right in the mouth from the very first question.  With the NDA in mind, I can only say some questions went deep, deep into the realm of academia.  Like core-of-the-earth deep.  There’s usually a couple questions that mention some acronym that I’ve never heard, but I had one or two questions that were talking about whole topics that were new to me.  It was that bad.  Absolutely intimidating.

I was thinking back to my previous attempts and trying to remember the scores.  I know I scored a 790 on the one pass, but I think my lowest was in the 710 range.  That tells me that I score about the same no matter what.  If I just walk in cold with no studying, I’ll get close.  If I study more than I’ve ever studied in my life, I’ll get close.  If I half-ass it the whole time, I’ll get close.  It seems, though, that I’ll never pass studying the way I do.  Something has got to change, but, right now, I have no idea how to take it to the next level.

I’m definitely not going to give up, but things have to drastically change.  I have to find another way to measure myself against the exam for one.  The measures I was using put me in the 90th percentile, but that was obviously the wrong type of ruler.  I have some huge weaknesses in my base of knowledge, too, so I’ll have to fill in those gaps.  If I would have done that before this attempt, I probably would have gotten a passing score.  Overall, too, I have a lot more work to do to get as deep as I can in each subject.

I’ll reach out to a few friends for some insight.  I’ll take any input from the general population as well.

Send any ways to make RFCs less boring questions to me.

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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9 comments for “CCIE R&S Written — Epic Fail (Again Again)

  1. August 6, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Hate to hear that man. I think your on the right track. Step back refocus and push forward.

  2. Joey
    August 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    That’s harsh, I recently had an interview where I couldn’t answer basic questions, so I came home and studied harder. Consequently I learned a bunch. I haven’t taken the written, but I know 2-3 hours a day isn’t enough for me. I’m using the boson practice exams and scored relatively low, especially on mpls, qos, and multicasting. So I decided to lab everything up and do the training portion of those topics that are designed for the lab. Out of that, now I’m just studying for the lab. I figure once I’ve covered all the material for the lab, and with some practice I’ll be ready for the written and the lab will be a matter of practice. But I’m not only using one trainer, but multiple and also using memory repition software like Anki. Goodluck dude.

  3. August 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Dude that worked with you at Veriphone. Dude you are one of the smartest people that I know and that is saying a lot because I seen a lot of really smart people operate. That being said, I think the test questions are designed to stump and be a little ambiguous. There are usually sometimes more than one and answer to a question so it is really up to you to pick the best answer. I have taken those tests and they can stump you. Its all good. So how is everything? I had forgotten your last name and just stumbled on it here. Still playin the base? Was listening to Steve Vai on the net. Bad @$s dude. hahahaha… take care.

  4. 350-001_Hater
    August 22, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I am a certified R&S CCIE and I recently failed this piece of sh!t of an exam. It’s always been at the bottom of Cisco’s abysmal barrel of cert exams but it’s worse now than ever. They still hold it under “version 4,” but the cert guide isn’t anywhere near close enough to get you over the top. I have spent the past couple of weeks memorizing trivia so I expect to pass it tomorrow. Assuming, of course, that I don’t get hit with a bunch of new nonsense trivia I didn’t see last go…


  5. JenBell
    September 25, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Passed the written Jul 2013. I spent a lot of time going over just obvious design issues, how protocols work. I passed the CCNP SP + Voice + Security + WLAN previously so had a pretty rounded core. You just need to get ur way of understanding the language used better. Pretty sure you already know ur stuff. I spent time learning and eventually just snapped it out over 2 weeks and sat the exam. Got 900+ as I remember. Exam is much easier than before when we had DLSW RIFs, RFC numbers and freekin ethernet codings 8B/10B anyone? My key piece of advice is to REALLY understand the input and output logic for technologies. What happens when certain tech’s are active in/out and what order they are evaluated. This will help in ur job and ensures you understand how the devices actually think.

  6. Didzis Ozolins
    October 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I agree, some of the questions are really core-of-the-earth-deep impossible. I had to perform an intelligent guess for like 6 questions, they were insanely hard. When i read the question i could not believe my eyes, my hands started to sweat like crazy.

    Maybe you should try to tackle Vol1 labs from ine or ipexpert before attempting the written? It takes a lot of time but you will learn plenty.

    And the Exam Certification book is crap, it is so SHALLOW compared to the stuff you are questioned.

    Good luck with your studies 😉

  7. Unknown
    January 30, 2014 at 3:00 am

    You are missing the point. How could cisco pass you untill you read the dumps which dumps provider make .
    The dumps are actual answers to the questions asked by Cisco in the exam.
    Cisco makes the questions and answers. And those answers are sold to the dumps providers.

    This way cisco earns both thru the Exam fee and the answers sold by them.

    Cisco is doing big business thru this way selling both questions and answers.

  8. Chris Ryan
    May 21, 2014 at 11:04 am

    So everyone knows they keep the cert tough to keep the value of those who can pass it high. With that said, you have people all over using practice test that are damn near the real thing and in some cases I have seen real questions out there. This article shows just how tough the exam really is for someone who isnt cutting corners which is the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the way I had to do it. So even though you feel bad, you should be proud your taking the RIGHT JOURNEY to reach your goals. Shortcuts lead to shortcummings, lol! I have interviewed several CCIE’s over the years, and wonder to this DAY HOW THEY ACHIEVED that CERT!!!
    Keep it up buddy, keep it up!

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