Cisco CCIE Written Exams in 2019 2020 – What You Need to Know!Paul Adam
I want to take a few minutes to discuss my take on state of the CCIE Written Exams in 2019-2020.
Now, first let me back up a little bit here and add some context. As per Cisco’s official guidance published on LearningNetwork as recent as 9 months ago, Cisco CCIE Written Exams contain three types of questions. Multiple Choice Single Answer, Multiple Choice Multiple Answer and Drag and Drop. Let me break those down for you.
Multiple Choice Single Answer means you have to select the best choice or answer among say 4 to 6 choices. Multiple Choice Multiple Answer means you have to select multiple correct choices or answers among say 5 to 7 choices. In both Multiple Choice Single Answer and Multiple Choice Multiple Answer type cases, Cisco exam engine calls out the exact number of answers you need to select, i.e. Choose one, Choose two, or Choose three and so on and so forth – you get the idea. Now, Drag and Drop type of questions are where you have to match choices or keywords on the left with the text or the description on the right side. If you have taken any of the computer-based exams, most all exams do not include a Back button, i.e. once you make your answer choice or choices and hit “Next”, there is no going back. Why? Because adaptive exam engines select from a large pool of questions and your next question is largely related to how you answered the previous one. In terms of the question mix, my guess is that you can expect to see lot more of the Multiple Choice Questions and less of the Drag and Drop types may be no more than 20%.
All section weights are also clearly called out by Cisco. Now, if this is your first time taking a CCIE Written exam, you know your track but if you are recertifying, R&S exam has the lowest passing score and that makes it a perfect target for recert candidates. Having said all of that, let me now share some insights from my recent exam experience. You can divide the exam into three large portions. Oddball questions, Making Educated Guesses and Evolving Technologies.
For oddball questions, if you have considerable amount of well-rounded on-the-job experience with Cisco routers, switches and/or appliances, good news is that you should be able to tackle about 75% of them and bad news is that you can still fail the exam by screwing over the other 25%.
Now, let’s talk about the other 25% which requires knowing exactly what Cisco documentation such as CVDs, SRNDs, TAC documents, Cisco best practices, and command reference manuals say about those topics and there is no other way around them. This is the type of stuff that you hear others talk about when they say Cisco needs to fix CCIE Written exams, yes what they are referring to, are those odd ball questions which have no place in the practical day to day networking but plenty in CCIE Written exams. Look you and I have don’t count here, as it is completely Cisco’s prerogative. I have been taking CCIE written exams for nearly two decades now and I can tell you that it has always been this way. You can complain about them all you want, but it is Cisco’s exam and they set the rules. Anyhow, for those reasons alone, I totally recommend signing up for some CCIE learning course, so you can navigate through them in a real exam.
Alternatively, you can deal with these questions by making some educated guesses and that brings me to my second point, making educated guesses. Now, making educated guesses means that you first eliminate the obvious wrong choices. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Recall that I said picking up among the handful of choices, in my experience with most computer-based exams, as long as you have some idea about the topic, you can easily narrow it down to 2 to 3 choices, so we’re talking about 50-50% chances.
Now, obviously, if you have no idea about the topic say Evolving Technologies that includes Cloud, Network Programmability or IOT, then all bets are off. Thirdly, I wanted to touch on Evolving Technologies. This section carries 10% weight on all of the written exams even the CCDE written exam. What does that mean? It means that you are expected to face about 9 to 11 questions on topics such as hybrid clouds, data modeling languages and encoding formats, version control systems such as Git, Devops automation tools such as Ansible, SD-WAN or more specifically vIPtela solution (an acquisition Cisco made less than two years ago) among other things that are in Cisco’s official exam blueprints. If these topics make you nervous, I’d strongly suggest you take some courses that cover these topics or read them up on the web. Unlike all other sections, you can’t expect Cisco to cover these topics for you on Cisco.com.
I hope you found this video helpful and I look forward to hearing from you as to what your learning goals are for the 20-19 and what steps are you taking to achieve them.