CCIE Pursuit Blog

January 25, 2009

New CCIE Lab Short-Answer Questions Will Be Computer-Based

Filed under: Cisco,Cisco Certification — cciepursuit @ 5:34 pm
Tags: , , , ,

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 prior to the start of the CCIE lab exam.  This seems to be consistent with a recent pilot that began in August in the Beijing lab location.  While the pilot specifically mentioned that the questions would be part of a verbal interview, I noticed that Cisco made no explicit mention about the new questions being delivered verbally.   I’ve now seen a couple of sources (Vue and the IE forum) validate that the new questions will be computer-based:

Cisco Announces Updates to the CCIE Lab and Written Exam

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 on the computer screen, drawn from a pool of questions based on the material covered on the lab blueprint. No new topics are being added.

Dear Jehanzeb,

Thank you for contacting Certification Support.

They’re computer-base questions, and will be graded by the CCIE lab proctors.

If you have further questions regarding the CCIE Certification Program, please visit or visit the CCIE Instant Answers at

Kind regards,

Certification Support Center

This makes sense as the Beijing pilot email advised that candidates could expect their lab session to be an hour longer to accommodate each candidate receiving an oral interview.  The global rollout specified that your lab session would not be extended and also mentioned that you could request a reread which included the ‘interview’ portion of the lab.

You’ll most likely answer four or five questions (short essay form?) on a computer.  I would imagine that you will need to complete this portion before you are allowed to begin the lab.

While I commend Cisco for (presumably) trying to crack down on cheating in the lab(although they claim that is a ‘secondary’ effect of this change), I have a feeling that if someone can braindump/get copies of the lab, they won’t have much problem collecting these questions.

Anyhoo….now the speculation is whether or not you’ll have access to the DOCCD during this portion of the exam.  I would think not, but I’m sure we’ll find out after this goes live next month.


  1. This defeats the purpose I think but oh well. Aren’t you going for lab during feb?

    Comment by — January 26, 2009 @ 12:04 pm | Reply

  2. I am totally against those open verbal questions. Mostly not because it will take 15 minutes from lab but because grading will be made by proctors which will give them to much power. If you have to grade them fair there have to be a key-words one have to use in answer. This means you have to talk not in way to be understand but in way Cisco require you to talk. And non-native english speakers will have problem with those questions, because of maybe bad pronunciation, because they think in native language and speak in english (which as we know generates many problems in making sentences correct) etc. So my opinion is that it’s not way of fighting with cheaters.

    Comment by Peter — January 26, 2009 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

  3. The questions are not verbal. You get to write a short essay about them. From what I understand they won’t be any harder than any question on the written exam. If you have 4 questions, you must get at least 3 correct or you fail the lab regardless if you configure the lab network 100% correctly.

    Comment by Doug E — January 27, 2009 @ 9:02 am | Reply

  4. The questions are varied. They say that you should know them, but some were difficult and others much simpler in nature. You really do need to know it all going in that room. I failed last week because of those questions, and not giving them due diligence. I would have passed an exam that didn’t have them either, as I can directly link my failing effort to those questions.

    Comment by Anonymous — February 10, 2009 @ 10:29 am | Reply

  5. Ditto to the guy above. I was asked 4 questions and I have no idea how they showed I recieved a 0 out of 100 for these questions as I know 2 of the 4 were right.

    Comment by Anonymous2 — March 24, 2009 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

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