Three candidates pass Cisco's network design beta exam; live version to get few tweaks

Congratulations to Cisco Subnet blogger Michael Morris, who is one of just three network professionals who passed the beta lab exam for the Cisco Certified Design Expert certification. Michael and 39 other hopefuls - including the other successful candidates Ryan Hicks and Reinhold Fischer - took the exam in October and Cisco began mailing out the results over the holidays. With the pass rate for the beta being 7.7% (lower than the 26% pass rate that has been reported for the CCIE lab, but that is over the  life of the CCIE exam), does this signify that the exam was too hard, or is Cisco happy to maintain the high bar for its expert level certification?

I put that question to Fred Weiller, director of marketing at Learning@Cisco, who said Cisco was very happy with the results and that the only thing that Cisco would tweak for the production version of the exam would be to ensure the questions are clearer. Weiller said the candidates thought the exam was life-like and relevant to their jobs.

The test, as with Cisco's other expert-level lab exam, lasts eight hours. You can read more about what was in the exam and how Cisco approached the knotty question of how to test for network design, which some describe as a subjective art, here

Weiller said the network design lab also gives hints as to whether the candidate's answers are on the right track. The candidate sees a baseline that is created from his or her answers. If at any point the candidate sees that the baseline is different to where he or she had intended it to be, that would be a clue that the candidate made a mistake somewhere along the way. Although the candidate may not correct past mistakes, that knowledge may help them as they continue with the exam. Weiller likened it to getting feedback from project sponsors along the way as to whether the plan is moving along the right direction.

Cisco said the production version of the exam is expected to go live in February or March. The written exam for the CCDE has been available for a year, and Cisco says that so far, 676 people have take that test.

There are no plans to create a 360 Learning Program for the CCDE to match the recently launched 360 Learning Program for CCIE. Cisco wants to give current design experts a chance to bask in the spotlight before it begins to train up the next generation, said Weiller.

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