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.