Exam Profile: CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0 Written Exam (400-101)


Date: Aug 26, 2014

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This article describes the Cisco CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0 Written Exam (400-101), including the objectives, preparation hints, and study resources.

The 400-101 exam is the qualification exam for the Routing and Switching CCIE Track’s Lab exam. After you have passed 400-101 (or 350-101 if still within your initial 18-month testing window), you can schedule your CCIE R&S Lab exam to become a fully qualified CCIE!

The CCIE Routing and Switching exam series (Written and Lab) have recently been revised to v5.0. The exam covers Network Principles, Layer 2 Technologies, Layer 3 Technologies, VPN Technologies, Infrastructure Security, and Infrastructure Services. There are many details within each of those broad topic areas, and of course, being an expert-level exam, the level of detail can be extreme!

Exam Details

Candidates must wait 5 days on failed exams for a retake. Passing candidates must wait at least 108 days before being allowed to retake the same exam.

Time Limit: 120 minutes

Cost: $400.00 USD (Costs may vary due to exchange rates and local taxes [VAT/GST])

How to Register: http://www.vue.com/cisco/

Strategy and Trouble Spots

Keep in mind, this IS an expert-level exam. So there are certain expectations of a candidate’s preparedness that are made by test creators. You need to start with time management. This is a helpful skill in the lab exam, too, but for different reasons.

You have approximately 90 and 110 questions to answer, depending on the pool selected for you. You have the same 120 minutes to answer all questions, so roughly one minute per question.

Following are a couple ground rules. You are not allowed to go BACK (or Previous) in questions. You can move only forward to the NEXT question. So that being said, there is no sense in stressing out over what you have previously answered. Stress will only bring you down further and affect your ability to think clearly on the rest of the exam! Concentrate on the here and now. Treat each question as if is the only one that you have to answer! Just do it within roughly a minute!

Now, again, if a question takes longer than a minute (some questions have more detail to review), don’t worry about it. There will be other questions you can answer within 10 seconds (or less)! The bottom line though is to attempt to not get stressed out about what you have already answered. You need to tell yourself that ahead of time!

Consider taking a break or three during the exam so that you sit for no longer than 30 minutes at a time staring at the computer screen. It doesn’t have to be long. Perhaps just standing up and stretching. Perhaps putting your head down on the desk. (Try to resist the urge of banging repeatedly!) Either way will be a brief distraction from staring at the computer screen and may well clear your head!

Preparation Hints

From an overall preparation and strategy point of view, it is important to look at the VAST overlap between the CCIEv5 Written Blueprint and Lab Blueprint. This is not a coincidence. This means that your preparation should keep that in mind. Prepare for both exams at the same time.

A good study plan involves a mixture of modalities (methods of information input) such as reading, watching videos, taking courses, and doing hands-on work. The hands-on part is obviously more critical to the Lab Exam preparation, but if your Written Exam question contains output from a show command that you have never heard of, it may become difficult to answer.

In Experiential Learning, the adage of See One, Do One, Teach One may well help in preparation for these exams. They are expert-level exams, and although you will be taking your test individually, I would recommend having a study partner or study group to maximize your efficiency of studying. Although you don’t need to be a formal classroom instructor to teach, the idea of presenting a subject to others is equally valuable. It may take that pressure/exposure to realize whether you truly know a subject.

The current CCNA and CCNP exams are also valuable to study. Although not at the same level of detail, they do pretty much follow the same subject matter.

Recommended Study Resources

Although not required for certification, the current CCNA and CCNP certifications can be valuable for information in smaller doses. I would recommend studying them.

Consider the following books for reference:

Exam Objectives

The exam is closed book and no outside reference materials are allowed. The following topics are general guidelines for the content that is likely to be included on the practical exam. However, other related topics may also appear on any specific delivery of the exam. To better reflect the contents of the exam and for clarity purposes, the following guidelines may change at any time without notice.

The following list provides general guidelines for the content most likely to be included on the exam. In any given exam, it may not contain questions representative of each subpoint. They are all possible, however.

1.0 Network Principles - 10%

2.0 Layer 2 Technologies - 15%

3.0 Layer 3 Technologies - 40%

4.0 VPN Technologies - 15%

5.0 Infrastructure Security - 5%

6.0 Infrastructure Services - 15%

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