Passing the CCIE R&S Written (350–001)
I am proud to say that I have completed the first step on my journey to the CCIE Routing and Switching certification: namely, I passed the written qualification exam. I obviously have a lot more work to do before attempting the lab later this year, but it is a good solid first step, and considering how long I’ve contemplated taking said step it is just good to be moving forward.
I’m not going to go into any details, talk about my score (it wasn’t perfect by any means) or really discuss anything that even smells like an NDA violation. If that’s why your here and how you found this short blog posting, you’re in the wrong place. I’ve worked far too hard for this to diminish either the work I’ve put in to get here, or the work that so many other full CCIEs have put in to attain their certifications. The only way you get the digits is to pay your dues like everybody else.
That said, my brief observation for what it’s worth, is that this test was not entirely what I was expecting. After years of taking different certification tests, including a variety of other offerings from Cisco, this test seemed a bit, well, tame. Not easy, just more straight-forward question and answer. That wasn’t really a positive or negative in my mind since I don’t really consider myself a “test” person and would have preferred a few more hands-on scenarios than I got. But I suppose I’ll get more than my fill come lab-day.
The other interesting thing I noticed was the questions. Some were almost cloyingly easy, while others a bit harder than I would have thought. Possibly that is just a side effect of my studying habits. In other words, the questions I found easy might be the same ones that trip someone else up. When you’ve been at the books long enough, you lose a little perspective on these things. None of the questions, however, were surprising in any way. I think that the subject matter described on the blueprint, as well as some base-level networking knowledge that is just assumed was all covered in a way that you should expect of this level of testing.
The last thing I found different than some of the other tests I’ve taken is the increased reliance on “stacking” technologies. In other words, you could see a question ostensibly focused on a particular technology, but with one or two other technologies represented in the question as well. In particular, you would be required to understand not only all three technologies in the question, but also the subtle interactions that can happen as they work together. My sense is that this is probably intended to be more “real world” representative, and in general I think it worked well.
All in all I think it was like a lot of Cisco tests: fair but difficult. If you know what you’re doing you should pass, and if you don’t, well… take your score breakdown and hit the areas where you were weak. Oh, and Cisco: please make your example diagrams easier to read! I’m not so old that I need reading glasses, but my god some of those diagrams were bordering on illegible. On at least a couple of occasions I had to squint, look sideways, and try to see… like one of those damned “dot” pictures where if you stare long enough you see a dolphin or some other randomly insipid thing you feel cheated for having expended the effort to see.
And now? Off into some hundreds of hours of rack time. Doh!