Review of CCIE Wireless v2 Written BETA

Review of CCIE Wireless v2 Written BETA

By CWNP On 10/10/2011 - 19 Comments

I sat for the CCIE Wireless v2 Written BETA exam last Thursday (10/6). I went in cold turkey, no studying. For me, the exam had a twofold purpose; the first was to do a bit of recon on the exam itself for my own future study prep, and the second was to evaluate and learn from the exam quality since I am in the exam and content business.

Having taken only a few Cisco exams in the past and having had good experiences on them, my expectations were fairly high. My general thoughts were this: I expected the CCIE to be almost insanely deep and difficult; I expected the questions and answers to be very precisely written and worded; and I fully expected to “strike my colors.” I want to share how the actual BETA exam matched [or not] my expectations. Respecting the NDA process, I’ll tow the line about exam details, but hopefully I can avoid being so generic as to render my article useless.

My first surprise in the exam room was that the test was not as difficult as I expected. Sure, there were some questions covering important minutiae (oxymoron?) that requires detailed product knowledge. However, the majority of questions were, in my opinion, of medium/moderate difficulty, with several relatively easy ones in the mix. If you understand the technology from a vendor-neutral perspective (CWNA+) and have some amount of hands-on experience with the Cisco products, you should be able to reason through a number of the questions. Others simply require that you read the manuals and design/deployment guides.

Pass/fail results are unknown until several weeks after the BETA phase, but I expect to fail—since I didn’t study. :) Even so, I believe that the exam difficulty is on the mark for a CCIE written.

In terms of language usage, style, and clarity, most questions were OK, but far too many questions and answer options were rendered as if written by an ESL student. No offense to non-native English speakers/writers, but for a premium certification from Cisco, I expected a higher standard of writing. Of course, you could tally up a few deficiencies as simple BETA shortcomings, but I felt that for paying customers ($50 is no big deal really), even the BETA exam should be written and edited with a little greater attention. The exam was fairly raw, containing some questions that were completely unanswerable.

Final Comments and Suggestions (FCS)
My compliments to Cisco for building such a successful and well-respected certification program (aka - mindshare empire). The CCIE written exam does a fine job of testing important, detailed content that demonstrates an engineer’s knowledge of the Cisco products and to a lesser extent, the technology. My experience of the wireless BETA exam was mostly positive. Questions were on target, covering the breadth of blueprint topics in a meaningful way. But, even considering that it's still in BETA stage, it didn’t match the quality of my previous Cisco certification experiences. I give Cisco some grace for BETA, but I’d certainly expect them to discover and smooth out the many kinks, delivering a solid final CCIE Wireless exam, which I will review in a few months.

Tagged with: Cisco, wireless, CCIE, written, certification

19 Responses to Review of CCIE Wireless v2 Written BETA

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aamir khan Says:
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12/22/2011 at 04:12am
People might be interested to know that the beta exam results are now available. On the Vue site check the "View History" page, or on the Cisco Cert tracking system, History is the way to go too. Only pass/fail status there; I think more detailed results will come later by mail (including the score!).

10/14/2011 at 15:50pm
"By the way, how the report for beta is delivered? Is it detailed enough or just contain pass/fail statement?"
-> My guess is you'll get the same thing as with other Cisco exams deliverered at Pearson Vue: your total score out of 1000, completed by percentages of good answers on a few broad question categories (for instance, planning and design, configuring controllers, configuring autonomous APs, WCS, troubleshooting...).

10/14/2011 at 06:30am
I would like to add my two cents after sitting for this beta.
- missing pictures that led to pure guessing. Met more than once through exam.
- do not agree with wording, it was quite clear, even for non-native speaker like me. Quality and clearance comparable with CWNP exams. Yes, sometimes question contains a long description of problem but it is exactly the same situation as with CWDP, for example.
- many Cisco product related questions, which is not surprising ;) Sometimes really tricky, and right answer is not clear from first reading
- many RF related question which is quite good for engineer with radio background but could be really difficult for pure network engineer
- surprisingly low number of questions related to new Cisco features of release 7.0. Probably, it was my set of questions from overall questions pool.
By the way, how the report for beta is delivered? Is it detailed enough or just contain pass/fail statement?

10/13/2011 at 16:48pm
I took the exam today too. I never tried the v1 exam, so I can't compare these two versions. However, I've passed three versions of the CCIE Routing & Switching written exams so far (v2 up to the latest v4), as well as numerous specialist and professional level Cisco certs, including CCNP Wireless I just finished two weeks ago, so I have some points of comparison.
That said, I agree to most comments here. The exam really felt beta quality, but I'd point that's not entirely surprising: it's not called a beta for nothing! Marcus complains Cisco should have added another reviewer: true, but in a way this second reviewer is all the people who took the exam, and exchanged the privilege of a bargain exam price for lower exam quality...
As far as difficulty, I found this exam less prone to these annoying minutiae questions, which are very frequent in professional and specialist level Cisco certs, and for which you just have to have learnt by heart various values (my guess is there are so many of these questions because they are very easy to come by, unlike, say, troubleshooting questions). This exam, on the contrary, felt more real world oriented (a Cisco world, of course :), with some design and troubleshooting questions added to the mix.
Also, CCIE Written exams aren't supposed to be brutally hard (that's the lab part). The aim is to filter candidates, so scarce lab seats don't get overtly congested with people who have absolutely no chance to pass. It's just a qualification exam, not the exam which will grant you the CCIE certification. Think QoS and rate limiting! So Roman, the “supposed to be the most difficult” Cisco wireless exam is the lab, not this written exam. ;)

10/12/2011 at 15:32pm
Roman, I think less than 15% is pure 802.11 related. And yes Markus, The CCNP wireless has a far more intense review process.... I hope that they take the remarks that we made during the exam into consideration and improve the quality of the definitive exam.

10/12/2011 at 14:03pm
Thanks Andrew. Since publishing the blog, I've polled a number of people who have taken both v1 and v2 written, and they've all shared your opinion that this version is very poor. I have also heard through the rumor mill that the CCIE written exams undergo a far different (less rigorous) writing, editing, review, and publishing process than other exams like CCNA, CCNP, etc. It's an unfortunate disservice to their pinnacle cert, but based on experience, it seems to be true.

10/12/2011 at 13:55pm
I just sat the CCIE-W version 2 BETA exam today, and came away with a significantly less positive impression than you had. Having taken the version 1 exam twice, the quality of the v2 exam is not up to par. There were numerous exhibits missing preventing the candidate from even guessing at a correct answer. In addition, I found another question that had duplicate answers (word for word, letter for letter) and one that did not contain the correct answer at all.
I expected a bit of minutae as you said, and I do agree that those questions are particularly irritating because they are often not all that relevant.
Overall, I was very disappointed in the exam. I expected better quality and testing of more relevant knowledge.

10/12/2011 at 10:09am
Markus and Frank, could you please estimate how many questions were Cisco-specific and how many require only 802.11 technology knowledge?

10/12/2011 at 09:09am
The exhibit issue has been the same for everyone. Since we publish our exams through VUE, I have some inside understanding of how this process works. After you submit the "to be published" materials to VUE, they prepare it in their VUE format for testing centers and you (as the publisher) review it to make sure everything is presented and scored correctly. This is where Cisco has totally dropped the ball relating to proofing their content. For a large organization, Cisco surely could have had two different people review the published exam to make sure everything works as it should, including exhibits. Even for beta, it's just sloppy.

10/12/2011 at 05:20am
I took the CCIE Written yesterday, and had the same experience as Marcus. If I remember correctly, v1 beta had 120 questions which was really stressful in two hours, v2 had 90 questions which gave you enough time. Since I'm not a native speaker (normally you get a 30 min extra time, but not with the beta) I was very confused with many questions because they were unclear (but I'm glad that even for native speaker Marcus this was the case) With some questions the exhibit was not visible so I had to guess the answer(s). Maybe this was related to the VUE testcenter PC. Compared to the CCIE written version 1, which had much more autonomous question and troubleshooting questions based on debug output and sniffer traces, the level / quality of this exam is not as expected. Beta results will be available January 2012.

10/11/2011 at 13:32pm
When I used to maintain my CCSP cert from Cisco I would simply take the CCIE Security written exam because passing any CCIE written automatically re-upped the mid-level CCSP cert. Doing this is cheaper and less hassle. In my opinion the written exams were always pretty easy, or easier than they needed to be, perhaps to lure people into the CCIE practical where they are often crushed with highly specific Cisco approaches. So it may be that the wifi exam follows the same track but if you take the practical you better know their platform inside and out.

10/11/2011 at 05:34am
Marcus, thank you for sharing your experience! I am going to make the same experiment this week and to see if I can pass this "supposed to be the most difficult" Cisco wireless exam after passing all the CWNP professional certifications. Probably I can add more comments shortly after.
You should definitely write about your results when you get them.

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