Most of what I heard before taking the written was that it’s very easy compared to the lab. Basically if you prepare well for the lab you’re going to pass the written without much effort once you are nearing the end of your studies. This certainly was not the case for me!
I had a really hard time with the written, partly because it’s a hard exam but also because the type of questions that they ask are really meaningless. After I failed my first attempt I found it very hard to work up the motivation to start studying those type of detailed questions. I feel like the written exam does not test your knowledge of technologies like OSPF, but instead they assume you probably know how the general things work and start asking super-detailed and often implementation-specific questions that has no practical relevance. I don’t like to waste my time doing meaningless chores, so it’s hard to sit down and memorize some weird limitation of Ciscos implementation of a routing protocol in IOS (super-minute details that might differ from IOS and IOS-XR and so on).
I felt it was probably a better use of my time to just hammer out a bunch of attempts at the written in rapid succession instead of really learning some of the things they were asking. You have to get lucky sooner or later, right? It might not much be much comfort if you are struggling with it, but just keep at it and try again. I found I had more use reading the Cisco configuration guides and memorizing the “requirements and limitations” for each topic rather than reading some book. The books just does not contain that type of details, and frankly I don’t see why anyone would ask you to remember it without referencing the documentation anyway. It’s just utterly stupid, but it’s what the written test has become I’m afraid. Just try to pass it, and forget everything you memorized as soon as possible because it’s only using up precious brainspace that you could use for something useful 🙂 I would recommend finding some other test to recertify with, maybe the CCDE has less of the bad type of questions.
If I could change anything about the written I would have less of the implementation specific questions, and focus more on general concepts. The questions might not be as hard, but I think you could raise the passing grade from ~80% to ~90% instead. It would make much more sense to me.
Once you pass the written exam, you can schedule a date for your lab exam!