Bought The Plane Tickets – I’m Going To RTP


There’s no backing out now. I reserved the plane tickets, hotel, and car for the trip to RTP. I’ll get into Durham, NC before noon on 4/28. From there, I can check out the Cisco campus, and make sure I know where the lab building is. Cisco describes the RTP lab location as follows:

Cisco Systems
7025 -3 Kit Creek Road
Building 3 ( Lake Building – 3rd building on the left )
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

So I get there early on 4/28, my lab is 4/29, and I’ll fly back north on 4/30. No rushing on either end.

Am I ready? Yes, as ready as I can be. There is no specific technology that scares me or that I’m hoping I don’t get on the exam. I’m going to keep doing practice labs and at least a couple of mock labs between now and then. I have IE mock lab #6 scheduled for this Saturday. I think I’m going to buy another IE mock as well. And I’m committed to doing all of the IEWB v4.1 volume 3 labs.

Will I pass? I have as good shot as anyone, but we’ll see. I need to work out the nervousness that I’m feeling. That’s not going to help me, and I’m already stressing out. Somehow, booking the flight has made this all very real. I’m not walking in there intending to give Cisco a $1,400 donation, I can tell you that much. But I’m as vulnerable to getting tripped up as anyone else.

About the author

Ethan Banks

Most people know me because I write & podcast about IT on the Packet Pushers network. I also co-authored "Computer Networks Problems & Solutions" with Russ White.

Find out more on my about page.


  • Well, it is time……good luck…you will make it…make sure you get some good sleep the night before……remember that you need to be there around 6:45 because if you missed getting into the lab then you will have problem because there is not one in the front desk that early….been nervous will go away as soon as you seat in front of your rack..again Good Luck and very soon you should have that magig number….

    Adios Amigo…

  • I wish you much success,

    If you look back now.. in which order will you have used all the materials you have used till now for your lab preparation?

  • You will be fine man, look at all the training you have had and everything you have posted in this blog. All the labs you have done…

    You already passed, just need to take the exam now is all…

  • Game on!

    Best of luck man.

    The volume III labs are great for building speed and shoring up your core skills. The scenarios and questions are very specific so you’ll be working mostly on configuring technologies and not as much on decoding tasks.

  • Looking back, I would have been better served doing technology-focused workbooks first. Narbik Kocharians’ Advanced Lab Workbooks are very good for this purpose. InternetworkExpert.com workbook version 4.1 volume 1 is also appropriate.

    After that, I would do a series of full-scale practice labs. I have nothing bad to say about the NetMasterClass.com DOiT vol.2 series, but IEWB 4.1 vol.2 would be good as well. Narbik Kocharians is working on a lab series, too.

    But the key is to do technology-specific labs first, THEN do full-scale labs. You’ll get more out of your early practice time that way, and your approach will be more organized.

  • Ethan, you definitely appear to be ready, as any reader can attest. You certainly appear justified in going forward with your lab date.

    Do you still feel that the DOiT labs are the hardest on the market? More so than the IEWB’s?

  • I can’t say for sure. I haven’t done any of the IEWB Vol.2 labs (although I have them all).

    At this point, my opinion is that you shouldn’t go for difficulty just for the sake of difficulty. I don’t care about labs that are hard just for the sake of blowing one’s mind (and some of the NMC labs indeed blew my little mind). I just don’t think Really Hard Practice Labs are going to help me pass. Obviously, a level of difficulty that approximates the actual lab is appropriate, but I can’t get excited about the Hardest Lab Ever.

    If you’re evaluating vendors, I say go with the one whose overall presentation style, topology diagrams, and written explanations make the most sense to you. If your brain jives with what a vendor is teaching, than any of the reputable vendors are going to get you where you need to be.

    Others can feel free to argue against me, if you think overly difficult labs will help boost your chances at passing the lab. At this point, I just don’t think so. For me, it’s about learning the technologies so thoroughly that I can configure them no matter the scenario. (My fellow bootcampers know that I’m serving a bit of Narbik’s kool-aid here. :) )

  • Slightly off topic, but is Bob Hope the best airport (fare-wise) to arrive into Pasadena on? I’m a bit more budget conscious than most, unfortunately.

  • LAX was cheaper for me by about $50 – $75 coming from New Hampshire. You can take the SuperShuttle from LAX to Pasadena for $29. http://www.supershuttle.com. If you stay at the Comfort Inn in Pasadena, it’s about a block and a half from Narbik’s classroom – very easy walk. You don’t need to rent a car.

    I went “cheap” last trip. There’s a Vons supermarket you can walk to from the Comfort Inn. I bought frozen dinners and kept them in the freezer/fridge combo in my room, then heated them in the room microwave. Comfort Inn breakfast is pretty good, and included with the price.

  • Thank you much for your prompt reply! This site is off the hook… Great work, Ethan.

  • Wishing you all the best for the test.

    From your blog, you seem to be the best prepared of any of us. I am confident that we will see you with the digits come May.

    Please don’t stop blogging once you have your number!

  • I just registered to tell you good luck Ethan.

    The past couple of months I have enjoyed reading about your struggles and with the amount of work you have put in to it I’m sure you will pass the lab sooner or later. Hopefully you will get your numbers on your first try.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

    / Daniel Hammarsten

  • Thanks to all you guys for your well-wishes. I keep reminding myself that I’ll be able to accumulate a lot of points because I’m well-grounded in the fundamentals. Sure, there’s a LOT of fundamentals to know, but at the end of the day, you can only do RIP advertisements so many ways, you can only do so much with BGP summarization, etc.

    I agonize over whether or not I can remember the commands to do x, y, and z esoteric feature. Will I remember every command for every esoteric feature IOS has to offer? Doubtful. But I’ll know where to find it in the DocCD. I’m reviewing esoterica, but I’m more focused on doing the fundamentals over and over so that common issues and solutions are fresh in my mind when I go to take the exam.

    Daniel, like you said – if not on the first go, I’ll pass sooner or later. :)

  • The most important thing here is that if you do not make it the first time (that I think you may make it the first time) is to keep it strong and try to find out what you did wrong and then go back again….but do not wait too long (ccie lab catch 22)….

  • Enjoy the Journey Mr Man. You’ve worked hard to get to this point. I’m still working on Narbiks books. I went back and started over because I wanted to do them as he taught them.

    Good Journey my friend!

  • I wish you the best of luck. I’m not sure the question you should ask yourself is if you are to going pass (I have no doubt you will), but rather how high a score you can achieve on the exam. Ethan, if you don’t pass I’m going to reconsider pursuing the CCIE :) If this journey takes more dedication and focus than you have put forth, lord help the rest of us.


  • Good luck man. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and it’s nice to know that there are other people going through the same turmoil as myself with regards to work/study commitments.

    Personally, I’ve got my first attempt scheduled in Sydney for May 2nd so I’m hoping to be reading about your success the day before my exam to help bolster my confidence :D

  • Welcome to RTP !!!! I ran across your post while doing research for setting up my lab topology. I recently passed my written and am always looking for more insight into successful study/learning techniques. Goodluck to you on your lab attempt and if you want to have a beer after you pass hit me up!! I am local to RTP and will buy the first round to congratulate you !!

  • Good luck! I did the Security track, so it could be different, but in the last weeks leading up to the test, I focused on speed in configuration. I knew there were basic things that were definitely going to be on the test and I made sure that I could do them quickly without having to really think about it. This freed up more time for me to look up the things I really didn’t know.

    Great plan to arrive early and then leave the next day. To combat the nerves I focused on distracting myself the day before and the morning of the test. Bring the newspaper from your hotel to the test! The proctors take their time coming out and reading the paper will give you something to do besides worry. ;-)

    I put together a post on my distraction strategy here, if you’re interested:


Most people know me because I write & podcast about IT on the Packet Pushers network. I also co-authored "Computer Networks Problems & Solutions" with Russ White.

Find out more on my about page.

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