Brian Dennis has a post up concerning an email that seems to indicate (as Brian states in his post this has NOT been verified) that CCIE candidates taking the lab at the Beijing, China location will need to submit to a verbal CCIE interview:
On August 27, Cisco will introduce a pilot for the CCIE Routing and Switching lab exam in Beijing, China. The pilot will add a 10-minute interview that will assess the candidate’s ability to apply expert-level networking skills and knowledge to networking problems that are encountered on the job. After the lab orientation, a panel of three experts will conduct a verbal interview with each candidate, asking a series of expert-level networking questions (questions and answers will be in English). The ability to correctly answer these questions will affect the exam score. After completing the interview, the candidate will have the entire 8 hours to complete the lab portion of the exam. These scores will then be calculated and then combined for a total score which will decide a pass or a fail.
There has long been speculation about rampant cheating in China. I’ve heard everything from special “dump schools” to lax lab security. I have no idea if any of this is true or not. This announcement (if true) might indicate that there are issues with the Beijing lab. It could just be a pilot that is being rolled out at that location first, but I highly doubt that as the email states that the interview will have an effect on the final score. It doesn’t seem fair to only expose Beijing candidates to this interview.
My take on it is this: if Cisco feels that there is rampant cheating at the Beijing location then close that location down. Full stop. Adding an interview that affects the lab score for candidates in a single location does not seem fair.