Sneak Preview of the CCDE Practical Exam

Cisco is demo'ing the CCDE Practical Exam next week at Networkers in Florida as part of the CCDE Practical Beta process. You'll be able to sit down and demo the new practical exam yourself and meet the CCDE development team. There is also a 2-hour CCDE session at Networkers on Tuesday. I got a sneak preview of the beta exam this week. The CCDE Practical is a computer based exam written in Adobe Flash. It will be delivered at super secure partner locations around the world. This is different from the CCIE labs which are delivered at Cisco offices. Since the test is computer based, Cisco can offer the test at more locations instead of making people fly to one of ten Cisco offices around the world that have CCIE labs. The test includes some multiple choice questions and some other types of questions such as drag-and-drop, ordered lists, and free form written answers. There are also some questions where you will actually draw a network design with routers, links, firewalls, and hosts.

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This is all possible because of the Flash software. It goes beyond typical Cisco computer exams - like the CCIE written exams - which are almost exclusively multiple choice. The content of the exam is based on a design scenario. You are given a set of documents - requirements lists, business background papers, network diagrams, even e-mails between people - and from this information you have to deduce the answers to the questions. Just like a design effort would happen in the real world. You are never given the option of A, B, C, or D; you have to read e-mails, read documents, and determine the best design.
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The test gives you more documents as you move along and you cannot go back to previous questions.
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The design builds upon itself as you move along. The scenarios can be enterprise or service provider based. For example, you may have an enterprise scenario that requires a network design for a merger with another company. Now, if you're thinking that a computer based test will not be on par with the CCIE lab, let me tell you, this test is not easy. For those that see it next week, I would bet no one gets all the questions right. Furthermore, since this test is about design, it's appropriate to be on a computer and not in a lab. Do you draw Visio diagrams in a lab? Or do you have discussions with customers and applications teams in a lab? No, you do that stuff via your computer. Cisco is also working on strict security measures to prevent brain dumping.
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See you Sunday in Orlando!

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