Using the Lab Workbooks

Took me about 6 weeks to get through Workbook 2.

Like many others, I took a by-increasing-difficulty approach and broke the lab book down by difficulty levels.

I really feel this is the way to go when you’re just starting.  Hitting a level 9 early on when you can barely tackle a level 7 is demoralizing and inefficient.  More importantly, it’s difficult to gauge your progress.  This is a great motivational tool and, let’s face it, we need every advantage we can get.

Here’s how my schedule looked every day for the past couple of months:


  • Read Vol 1 during my commute (2 hours per day).  Originally, I planned on reading topical books but I realized that I still retained a lot of the theoretical knowledge from prepping for the written.  My time is better served with vol 1.  On a side note, the Kindle DX is an amazing tool for this.
  • Instead of using google to look up things at work, I tried to use the DocCD first.  We all know what a bastard navigating the DocCD can be, so the more exposure the better, in my opinion.
  • 4 hour lab session every night.  I think I only missed 1 night during the past 6 weeks.  This is when I got the bulk of the work done.  20 hours a week on top of whatever I could squeeze in at work.
  • I also did reviews every day.  I want to emphasize how important reviewing is.  Whether your preference is physical flash cards, a software SRS program (Supermemo, Mnemosyne, Anki, etc), mindmapping, or even jotting down traditional notes in a notebook, make sure you incorporate reviewing into your routine.


  • I usually did two 3-hour sessions each day, one in the morning and one late at night.  This way I still had time to do “normal” stuff during the day and not drive myself crazy by labbing 24 x 7.

The first 3-4 labs kicked my butt real bad.  I even held some concerns that I booked the lab way too early.  However, by the 10th lab I could tell I was really gaining steam.  When I finally hit the level 9 labs, something really interesting happened.  At times they felt easier than many of the level 7-8 labs.  My co-worker who is also working through the workbooks made a similar observation – he thought the level 9 labs were written by a completely different person.

Upon further analysis, we both realized the truth.  Our hard work had payed off.  We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.  The key at this point is to continue pressing hard.  I can’t take my foot off the gas pedal.

The lab date is 2 measly months away.   It’s daunting, but I know the reward will be that much more satisfying.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.


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