Its been a while since I have written - A week of prep time going into the R/S Exam, and a week of .. emotional recovery.
This article is going to be a little controversial and I even may get some hate mail but it needs to be said.
The state of the current CCIE Lab exam actually encourages and enables brain dumpers to cheat and pass!
In reaction to a high pass rate out of certain lab centers, Cisco put in the “Open Ended Question” section which were a series of “CCNP” level verbal questions. You failed them, you failed the exam. Done in minutes, 2000+$ out the window. This enraged many many people. People who did not speak native English, and people without good interpretive skills such as my self would do very poorly.
This did not last long however, and the troubleshooting section was added. I must say that this section was actually fairly decent when as it came to actually testing what a person day to day would do. I have no qualms about this portion of the test other than it should be longer.
However my main problem with the lab exam is the absolutely horrible job it does of actually testing skills. The way the questions are worded to attempt to combat brain dumpers makes it more of a reading comprehension test. I cannot go into specific questions as I actually do want to keep my CCIE # and do not want to violate the NDA, but the types of questions given are overly reliant on tiny knobs that you never really change in production.
I can only assume this is an attempt to stave off “Brain Dumpers” - People who write down the entire test so they can figure it out later, and share it so others may pass. However I think it only exacerbates the problem because people like me who honestly try to do the test without cheating will get extremely frustrated at all the minor details which caused us to fail. It is as if you need to look at the ‘dumps’ to even figure out what they are asking. I cannot imagine how difficult this test is for non native English speakers or people with reading comprehension issues.
I passed the Trouble Shooting part without much effort - however the Config section was just pure hell. I knew every single technology on the test - however I failed because of really stupid things. The initial graph they give you to do vlan’s for example, I had no friggen clue on what to do with it. There is no clear and concise map like the CCIE SP. The CCIE SP Exam (Which I failed the first time due to my XR knowledge) is extremely straight forward - and really hard! The configuration section in that test is perfect. Questions are straight forward. There is no attempt to throw off dumpers by putting in trick words or trick timers.
There are people who are going to cheat no matter what. There is nothing that you can do to stop these people - though I believe the troubleshooting section which can have many many different solutions is a great start. I would like to see the trouble shooting section extended to 50% of the exam, and configuration shrunk down to 4 hrs (or 50%). This more accurately describes the day to day of a networking admin (If you take out change management, meetings, HR problems, eating, etc).
I feel that older CCIEs are saying that the certificate is losing its credibility due to these dumpers but where ever there is money, there are going to be cheats. But also there are going to be a large increase of legit people who want to do this job as well. It is natural human behavior to protect what one has earned, and to attack those whom seek it. There now have been 37000+ CCIEs in the world and that number is just going to increase. China is a REALLY BIG country with billions of people. Its only a matter of time before there are twice as many CCIEs in China than the US. Same with India.
Cisco is trying to defeat these dumpers by inserting random minor changes to questions - however that is also harming people who are attempting to do this legitimately. I am not condoning dumping and I would never do it myself, however I am just saying I can see why people do this.