Passing the Written

Read­ing Time: 3 min­utes

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!