Kudos to Cisco Subnet blogger Michael Morris, who is one of three network professionals to pass the beta lab exam for the Cisco Certified Design Expert certification. Michael and 39 other candidates – including other successful candidates Ryan Hicks and Reinhold Fischer – took the exam in October and Cisco began sending the results over the holidays. Since the pass rate for the beta is 7.7% (lower than the 26% pass rate that was reported for the CCIE lab, but which spans the lifespan of the CCIE exam), this does it mean that the exam was too difficult? Is Cisco happy to keep the bar high for its expert level certification?
I posed this question to Fred Weiller, Marketing Director at Learning @ Cisco, who said Cisco was very happy with the results and the only thing Cisco would change for the production version of the exam would be to make sure that the questions are clearer. Weiller said candidates believe the exam is realistic and relevant to their work.
The test, as with Cisco’s other expert-level lab exam, takes eight hours. You can read more about the exam content and how Cisco approached the thorny question of how to test network design, which some describe as subjective art, here.
Weiller said the network design lab is also giving clues as to whether the candidate’s responses are on the right track. The candidate sees a baseline created from their responses. If at any point the candidate finds that the baseline is different from what he intended to be, that would be a clue that the candidate made a mistake somewhere along the way. Although the candidate cannot correct past mistakes, this knowledge can help him / her to continue the exam. Weiller likened it to getting feedback from project sponsors along the way as to whether the plan is moving in the right direction.
Cisco said the production version of the review 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 taken the test.
There are no plans to create a 360 learning program for the CCDE to match the recently launched 360 learning program for the CCIE. Cisco wants to give current design experts a chance to bask in the spotlight before they start training the next generation, Weiller said.
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