I was fortunate enough to talk to Lorne Braddock Sr., the manager of the CCIE program, about the move from a two-day test to a one-day test. Like many CCIEs, I had a knee-jerk reaction to the move. I was aware of the huge backload that Cisco was experiencing with people waiting to get into the lab; in some cases, the waiting list was approaching a year long. Many Cisco partners required people to get certified to retain or gain a preferred partner status. For many Cisco partners, the revenue difference between a gold and silver partnership is in the millions. Another problem for Cisco and its customers was the difficulty in scheduling a two-day exam that you can get sent home early on. This not only costs time and money to Cisco's customers, but it also leaves many open lab slots.
Moving to a one-day, 8 1/2-hour test resolved many of these problems, but the question remained—what do you cut? The program decided to enhance the Layer 1 or physical aspect of the written test. The physical portion of the lab exam was a rather "technically" small portion of the lab exam, but it did consume some time. Another portion of the exam that could be cut was the troubleshooting portion. The reality is that if you spent the last 8 1/2-hours successfully configuring this very difficult exam, you are not going to get stumped when someone changes the router password or an IP address. I personally know a lot of CCIEs, and of those who have failed the exam, no one has ever failed the troubleshooting portion. Therefore, the four hours of troubleshooting also was cut from the lab exam.
In a nutshell, Cisco made the written portion of the CCIE exam more difficult because it deals with more physical layer topics. The lab exam now is a one-day, 8 1/2-hour exam in which time will be critical factor.
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