CCIE Pursuit Blog

January 14, 2009

Big Changes To CCIE Lab and Written Announced

Filed under: Cisco,Cisco Certification — cciepursuit @ 9:17 am
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[UPDATE: Reading through the information that Cisco released today, I realized that nowhere does it state that these are short-answer questions will be given orally.  Considering the information on rereads and the fact that there is no additional time added to the lab, these may simply be written questions that must be completed before you receive your lab packet.]

I received an email from Cisco today announcing upcoming major changes to both the CCIE written and the lab exam.  The interview portion of the lab that I wrote about earlier this week is no longer just a pilot in Beijing, it’s going to be part of all CCIE labs (starting with Routing and Switching) after February:

Effective February 1, 2009, Cisco will introduce a new type of question format to CCIE Routing and Switching lab exams. In addition to the live configuration scenarios, candidates will be asked a series of four or five open-ended questions, drawn from a pool of questions based on the material covered on the lab blueprint. No new topics are being added. The exams are not been increased in difficulty and the well-prepared candidate should have no trouble answering the questions. The length of the exam will remain eight hours. Candidates will need to achieve a passing score on both the open-ended questions and the lab portion in order to pass the lab and become certified.  Other CCIE tracks will change over the next year, with exact dates announced in advance.

The second major change will affect the written exam:

Effective February 17th, 2009, candidates will also see two other changes in CCIE written exams. First, candidates will now be required to answer each question before moving on to the next question; candidates will no longer be allowed to skip a question and come back to it at a later time. Second, there will be an update to the score report. The overall exam score and the exam passing score will now be reported as a scaled score, on a scale from 300-1000. This change will not affect the difficulty of the current set of exams and will assure CCIE written exams will be consistent with Cisco’s other career certification exams.

Crap.  🙂  The CCIE written exam was different from the other Cisco certification exams in that you could mark questions for later review as well as skip forwards and backwards though the exam.  This saved my bacon on a couple of questions because I had additional time to think about the questions, plus sometimes a later question would give you a clue about an earlier question.  It sounds like the CCIE written exam will now be more like the other Cisco certification exams in that you must answer a question to move on to the next question and there is no going back to previous questions.  This change is going to affect a lot more candidates due to the requirement to pass the written exam every few years in order to maintain one’s CCIE status.  Maybe Cisco will cut the number of questions from 100 to the 60-range like most other Cisco exams.  🙂

Cisco has a FAQ up concerning the new changes here. I pulled out some of the FAQs about the lab questions:

Do the short answer questions affect my overall CCIE lab exam score?
Yes. All sections on the exam and their results are taken into account when determining the overall exam score

If I don’t complete the short answer questions, can I opt out of the exam and receive a refund?
No, the short answer questions are now an official part of the lab exam. No refunds are given if candidates decide they are not ready to take the exam within 90 days of the exam date.

Can I skip the short answer questions and go back and answer them later?
No, the short answer questions must be completed before the candidate moves on to the configuration scenarios.

Will the short answer questions also appear on CCIE mobile labs?
Yes, the mobile labs are the same as the traditional lab exams. The short answer questions will be part of all CCIE Routing & Switching lab exams after.

What if I don’t agree with the grading on the short answer questions? Can I appeal the results of the short answer section?
Because short answer questions are open-ended, responses are manually graded and the grading guidelines will allow for some variation in response. If a candidate requests and pays for a Lab Exam reread, a second proctor will review the entire exam responses and issue a second opinion. There will be no option to purchase a reread of only the short answer results.

Can I skip the short answer questions and still pass the Lab Exam?
No, candidates must achieve a passing score on the short answer questions, as well as the configurations, in order to pass the Lab Exam and achieve certification.

When will candidates begin to see the short answer questions on the lab?
Candidates in all lab locations can expect to see short answer questions on their exams beginning in (TBD 2009).

Will there be additional time provided for the new short answer questions?
The length of the exam will remain eight hours. The short answer questions are intended to be answered easily and quickly by well-prepared candidates.

Will the short answer questions be added to the CCIE blueprints? How can I prepare (study) for the questions?
The short answer questions cover material already listed on the CCIE lab exam blueprint. The questions are intended to be answered easily and quickly by well-prepared candidates.

Why are you adding short answer questions to the CCIE R&S Lab Exam?
Including several randomly-selected short answer questions on the lab will allow Cisco to increase the validity of CCIE and ensure only qualified candidates achieve certification.

How many short answer questions will be asked, and how long should candidates expect to spend on them?
Four or five short answer questions will be asked and candidates can expect to spend about 10-12 total minutes on them.

Will short answer questions be added to other CCIE Lab Exams, beside R&S? If so, when?
Cisco intends to add short answer questions to all CCIE lab exam tracks. We will announce the addition of the short answer questions to each track well in advance of the questions appearing.

What is changing on the CCIE Lab Exam?
To increase the security & integrity of the CCIE R&S Lab exam, there will be a series of open-ended, short answer questions added to the lab exam in all global lab locations. The addition of these questions does not change the lab exam blue-print, nor does it require time be added to the total exam time. At this point the questions are being added to the Routing and Switching lab; lab exams in other tracks will be announced in advance.


  1. good move with interview.. I would like to see face of person who bought “real” labs for hundred bucks and paid and scheduled LAB

    Comment by denyip — January 14, 2009 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  2. Interesting. I didn’t realize you could skip around on the written. I take mine on 29 Jan. =)

    Comment by stretch — January 14, 2009 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  3. As I said its about damn time. Its better to WEED out those cheaters in the lab rather than at the real job interview.

    Comment by — January 15, 2009 @ 8:56 am | Reply

  4. […] the deal? Changes in the CCIE lab and written exam. January 15, 2009 As reported on cciepursuit, cisco has announced changes to both the lab and written parts of the CCIE […]

    Pingback by Changes in the CCIE lab and written exam. « Kpjungle’s Weblog — January 15, 2009 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  5. […] @ 5:34 pm Tags: CCIE, CCIE Lab, Certification, Cisco, Cisco Certification Cisco recently announced a couple of big changes to the CCIE test.  The change that has made the most waves is the introduction of some short open-ended questions […]

    Pingback by New CCIE Lab Short-Answer Questions Will Be Computer-Based « CCIE Pursuit Blog — January 25, 2009 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

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