he New CCIE Exam Topics and What They Mean to You

The CCIE program is evolving from assessing mature technologies to be the go-to certification for keeping up with the fast pace of technology evolution. The next generation of the CCIE program has kicked off, and the first stop is at the CCIE Exam Topics (also known as exam blueprints). There has been wide spread promotion about the newest addition to the Exam Topics, the Evolving Technologies domain. Although we won’t go into depth about how the evolving technologies will apply to all of the written exams, you can get a better understanding of this addition from #CertsandLabs Exam Program Manager Elaine Lopes in one of her recent CCDE Unleashed blogs “CCDE: Myth Busters and Evolving Technologies.” Most of this blog does not apply only to CCDE, thus it provides a great explanation of how this new domain applies to both CCDE and CCIE written exams. There are plenty of resources on the Reference Material for Evolving Technologies Section. The key thing to note is that the Evolving Technologies domain now makes up 10% of the written exam. While for today, the Evolving Technologies section will focus on the three subdomains of cloud, IoT, and network programmability, this section will be refreshed with new and emerging technologies as they are adopted by the industry.


The other major change in the framework is the new Unified CCIE Exam Topics. To ensure that candidates prepare with a comprehensive understanding of each topic, we have combined the existing written and lab exam topics into one unified version. The first two programs to implement the new format are CCIE Security and CCIE Data Center. The CCIE Data Center v2.0 unified Exam Topics were fully implemented on July 25th, 2016 and the prior version has been phased out. The CCIE Security Unified Exam Topics for the revised v5.0 available January 31, 2017 are available to review; however candidates can still test on version 4.0 until January 30, 2017. The other CCIE exams will transition to the new unified exam topics during their normal revision.


Why is it important to have Unified Exam Topics?

The new format provides us with the agility and speed to adopt with the industry and evolution of technologies. With the unified version of the exam topics, candidates will be required to have an overall holistic understanding of the topic rather than having only the knowledge needed to perform a specific task, and we can focus more on technologies rather than on specific hardware or software. As described in the CCIE Security v5.0 Written and Lab Exam Content Updates,  the unified exam topics are the next critical step in preparing more candidates to become certified professionals by ensuring they are able to “demonstrate knowledge of evolving technologies … and ensure that [they] are well equipped to participate in meaningful discussions with business leaders about these new technical areas that greatly influence businesses globally.”  This overview provides a detailed summary of what changes have been implemented for the CCIE Security program and provides a good depiction of how the foundation for the new unified topics was developed.


Understanding the Unified Exam Topics

All of the Unified Exam Topics are (or will be) formatted the same. As shown below, each one will contain all of the following components for both the written and lab exams:

  1. Domains – This is the bird’s eye view of the topics that should be understood holistically on the exam. This level should be a guide to where candidates should begin their study efforts and have a practical understanding through hands-on work or acquired experience.
  2. Tasks – The tasks are the actionable skills that expert-level candidates should be able to demonstrate. The overall scope of this level in the exam topics covers the expertise needed to describe, design, implement, operate, and troubleshoot against the blueprint Domains. Tasks are generally more detailed in nature than those high level concepts in the Domain.
  3. Sub-tasks – The sub-tasks drill down into additional detail, e.g. what level of knowledge is required as a part of the actionable skills needed at the Task level.
  4. Domain weight – Each domain represents a weighted percentage of the overall total points a candidate may earn on the test. If there is a domain weighted at 40% versus one weighted at 10%, the higher-weighted domain counts more towards the overall score. This is important to understand because all questions answered correctly count towards your total score. You will not lose points for answering questions incorrectly. Having a solid understanding of the concepts in each domain and its tasks and sub-tasks will help you maximize your score by understanding your strengths and weaknesses and what you should focus on as you prepare for your exam.
  5. The “Evolving Technologies” Domain – You will find this content domain only on the written exam.


The new CCIE framework is designed to ensure our certified professionals are always fully equipped to take on the ever changing industry. Make sure to continuously visit the CLN pages related to the specific CCIE or CCDE path(s) you are pursuing. Check the Cisco Learning Network or Cisco.com to stay on top of all updates. There are also additional resources such as the most current authorized study materials, videos, authorized learning partners, group discussions and study groups to help keep you on track and up to date. For questions and comments, leave a message below or via the Learning@Cisco Facebook, Linked or Twitter social media pages by using #CiscoCertsisListening.