A big Thank You to INE and Mark Snow in particular for the excellent presntations. After 4 attempts I finally made it. It has been 9 months of huge effort and virtually no personal life so the feeling of relief and overall fulfilment of getting the CCIE-V certification can hardly be described.
A few notes around the exam strategy that worked for me:
1. Read the whole paper in its entirety before starting with the actual configuration activities. You need to understand what is required end to end in order to consider all inter-dependencies. Very important: Pick up the tasks you either don't know how to configure or you are not really sure about and leave these til the end (late afternoon). Hopefully there won't be more than a couple. If there are too many of these you are obviously not ready for the lab exam and you need to go back to your preparations after failing.
2. Finish first all of the CLI related tasks on the HQ switch and router as well as the two branch routers
3. Before lunch finish all applications (Unity Connection, CUE, CUPS, UCCX).
4. After lunch do the Call Routing section. After finishing it you should have a couple of hours to test your configuration. This is very important: Read Again Every Task and Test Everything! You may thing you have done it correctly the first time and often that is the case after so much of practice, but at least with me there was always something little that had to be adjusted. Rememeber, this exam does not recognise partial marking. You get one little thing wrong and you will get 0 points for the whole section.
5. Finally (and if you have any time left) address the tasks you haven't done. Hopefully at that stage the tasks you have done are worth more than 80 points, but of course you can never be absolutely certain that these are all correct and you will be awarded all these points. So from the tasks you haven't done so far pick up the one you believe you have the best chance of finding a solution for and spend the remaining time (and I guarantee you that the remaining time will be very little) focusing on it. Be very careful not to break anything in the process, because you won't have any time left to do another test.
It is recognised that CCIE-V is perhaps the toughest track. In all of my attempts the guys doing the R&S track would finish up to 2 hours before the end of the exam! On the other hand, with Voice you ALWAYS go down to the wire! Time is NEVER enough! So time management is crucial and for the Voice track even more so.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses. My weak point was UCCX. This is an expert level exam so to get the points for a particular topic you need to be an expert in it (remember no partial marking). So I would look at the UCCX task - usually I would be able to do most of the things required, but usually there would be one or two things I wouldn't sure about. So I would decide to ignore this section. You see, the problem is that you have to be able to configure a section fairly quickly - definitely under 30 minutes with the only exception being the Call Routing where one would normally spend an hour or so. Given the time constraints, the lab exam is NOT a place where you can experiment. So in such a case my decision would be not to spend any time on UCCX and just leave it out. This would mean that I would have to be spot on in sections such as QoS and Call Routing. You have to be strategic - the exam is not about being a perfect scorer, but rather how you get to the threshold of 80 points. So don't waste your time on tasks you can't configure 100% as one little error or omission will certainly mean 0 points plus all the time you have wasted.
Again, to INE and Mark Snow - THANK YOU. The stuff in Mark's presentations is very relevant to the exam and can definitely help you collect these extra few points making the difference between PASS and FAIL.
Preslav Markov - CCIE Voice# 29011
Our sincere congratulations go out to Preslav on his tenacity and amazing achievement! We will be shipping him a custom CCIE Polo shirt today!