"Never stop, never stop fighting till the fight is done." - Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness in The Untouchables. I was reminded of this line reading another great, inspirational Version 4 passing story. Thank you so much for sharing your story with our community Jason, and congratulations once again.
"After 9 years of dreaming about it, a couple on and off years of busting my a-- doing something about it, 4 attempts, 4 fails, and 2 re-reads, I've finally gotten my number, #25963. I want to thank my wife and son for giving me the time and space and support, especially over the past year. I also need to thank my parents for helping me financially. And then there's Mike, Manoj, Erik, Dave S., Dave O., Craig, and all the other guys I've worked with in the past that helped me to get where I am today.
After I had failed my 3rd try back in November, I re-committed myself to "back-to-basics" training. I used INE's Vol 1 and Volume 2 for all my lab work. I had previously used 's workbooks for my first 3 attempts, but it got to the point where I was doing labs from memory. I'm not going to say one is better than the other, because I feel like I learned equally from both. But I did like the change of pace that I got with INE's workbooks. I also reviewed videos from both INE and IPX. In truth, it's almost as if I was exclusively using INE material for this last attempt because the videos from IPX were all done by Scott Morris.
I also alloted only 4.5 hours when doing any Vol 2 lab. I rented from GradedLabs and it usually takes between 10-15 minutes to load configs anyway. But even if I was doing a level 8 or 9 mock lab, I'd still only give myself 4.5 hours. Now, I have the speed to do this the first time I sat the v4 lab. It took me about 4-5 months of constant labbing, self created and INE/IPX workbooks, in order to get to up to that speed. One thing I learned from my past 2 attempts with v4 is that speed is important. So, I spent a lot of time developing it.
When it came time for the actual lab (end of February), I was beyond confident that I was going to pass. I remember blazing my way through the OEQs and Troubleshooting sections. And I was 100% confident that I had passed both sections with no less than a 100%.
Then I started the config section. My biggest fear was that I was going to mess up the full reachability requirement (which is what killed me the previous 2 tries). But because of the way I trained, I was 100% confident that time would not be a factor, and I was right. I actually spent a whole hour looking for the answer to the very first config task, and I still didn't get it right. (I found the answer after I got back home). But I was still able to blaze my way through the rest of the config section stopping only one other time to waste another hour on something that I just couldn't get working (although, oddly enough, I got a 100% on that part). But despite the 2 hour-long setbacks, I still finished with an hour to spare. I quickly went over each task to make sure I met each individual requirement, found one task that I had initially misread, fixed it, and basically I was done. I still had 45 minutes left so I spent the remaining time trying to get that one task working (the second of my hour long issues) but to no avail. I had my score tally, and I was confident that I had scored my 80% on the config section. Then the proctor called time, I saved my configs for the nth time, said "Thanks" and left.
I remember having a stupid little grin on my face as I walked out the building and also seeing the dejected looks on the other candidates' faces. They all knew that this was my fourth attempt, and something inside me just knew that I had finally done it. I tried to downplay it, but I just couldn't wipe that stupid grin off my face. I remember my wife was waiting for me in the rental car, and as I got in, the first thing I said was, "I did it. If there was a time I was going to pass, this was it. I know I did it." We were both feeding off of my excitement, but I kept trying to temper the mood with a "I haven't seen the score yet, so we should keep it cool until then." But, it was too hard to shake that feeling.
The next morning, I checked my email and saw that my grade was in. I was excited and nervous as I logged in. Then I saw the "FAIL". I was crushed, but something inside me said this was wrong. I checked the results. Core Knowledge: Pass. Troubleshooting: Pass. Config: bunch of different %s, including the 100% I got for the task I spent an hour on trying to get working. I had memorized the total number of points per section just so I would know exactly how many tasks I missed, and quickly calculated where I had missed. I knew I was going to miss a couple, but I was pretty surprised that I missed in other areas. I went back to the main page and saw the Request Re-Read link. I didn't even think twice. I immediately clicked on it, submitted my credit card for the $250 re-read, and 5 minutes after seeing "FAIL", I went about making the rest of my weekend a mini-vacation in San Francisco.
When I got home, apparently, someone had leaked to my entire company (small company) that I had taken the lab exam. I had already told all my family and friends that I had failed. But now, I had to do my "walk of shame" letting everyone in the company know that I had failed again, but that I hadn't given up. I had to re-tell my story for 3 straight days as all the various people would come by and ask how I did. Ugh!
Every morning, I'd check my email to see if anything came in from Cisco. 10 days after I requested my re-read, I saw that the re-read was completed and my score was ready. I was running late for work, so I waited until I got in to work to check my grade. My computer seemed to take an eternity to boot up, and when I finally got to the login page, I kept mistyping the date, or my CSCO #, or some other piece of information. My hands were trembling so bad that I had to re-type in my info at least 4 times. Then I logged in, and there it was: "PASS". I couldn't believe it! I clicked on the link, read the congratulations message, and then saw my number: 25963. I can't remember if I was even breathing at this point. And because I still didn't believe it, I went to the verification tool, plugged in my info, and there I was. It was official. I stood up, walked around my cube, all the while trying to contain my excitement, and then before I knew it, I had yelled out "YES!!!!" and was fist pumping the air. My cube neighbor turned around and asked what was going on, and I told him I was a CCIE and he was the first to congratulate me. I walked around the office trying to find all my friends and told everyone the good news. My wife was so happy she cried her eyes out. It was a great feeling. I emailed all my friends and had a nice celebration lunch with my wife.
But, later that evening after everyone had gone to sleep, I logged in to the verification site and checked again, just to make sure. And there I was again, #25963."