Thinking Beyond The Cisco Certification Poster

Some of the commonly asked questions we receive on the #CertsandLabs team are about score reports. In this blog we are going to answer candidate questions for better clarity on how to read and interpret your Cisco score reports. There are five major pieces of the score report that communicate specific information to candidates. In addition to highlighting this key information, we will also review some of the methods behind test scoring that may be beneficial in helping you to understand how we report scores and why this method is critical in maintaining exam integrity and fairness.



Following is an example of a Cisco score report. You’ll note that we’ve highlighted 5 areas.




5 Key Sections of a Cisco Score Report

  1. Retake Date – You will not see this date on a passing score report. This date is visible only to candidates who have failed an exam and will show when they are eligible to retake the same exam again. For Associate, Professional, and Specialist exams, you must wait 5 days between exam attempts. For Expert exams, you must wait 15 days between exam attempts. You can review the retake policy online.
  2. Your Score – This is the overall score you achieved. Scores are reported using a scale score that ranges from 300 to 1,000.
  3. Passing Score – This is the minimum score you need to pass the exam. We will explain later how we use industry standards for setting the passing score for each exam. The passing score will not be the same number across all exams.
  4. Grade – Indicates if you Pass/Fail based on whether or not you achieved the minimum passing score.
  5. Section Scores – These scores are represented in percentages (out of 100%) and provide information on how well you did in each section. These sections are the domains on the Exams blueprint. If you did not pass the exam, you should use the section scores as an indication of your strengths and weaknesses and where to focus if you choose to retest. One misconception is that these percentages are cumulative to your passing score, but as you can see highlighted in the above score report, they are not. Though you may score above 70% or 80% on multiple sections, to pass, you must earn enough points on the exam to achieve the minimum passing score.


The Scaled Score & How It Relates to the Raw Score

You may notice that your score report states “The official score is based on a scale of 300 – 1000 points” as highlighted above. In testing, there are different ways to report a score. A raw score is simply the number of points a candidate earned by answering questions correctly. A percent-correct score converts the raw score into a percentage. For example, on an exam where each question is worth one point, if a candidate answered 30 out of 60 questions correctly, the raw score would be 30 and the percent-correct would be 50%. However, the reporting method we use is based on a scaled score.


Your scaled score will always begin at 300. Each correct answer will add up to accumulate your final score. The maximum score is 1000, and the exam’s passing score will always fall somewhere in between.


Why We Use the Scaled Score

One of the main reasons that Cisco and many other testing programs use a scaled score is that it is a testing industry standard to ensure fairness to all candidates. The reported scaled scores are obtained by statistically converting raw scores onto a common scale. This standardization of scores allows for exams to have the same score range to ensure consistency across all exams.


If you didn’t pass your exam, the most important thing to look at is your strengths and weaknesses compared to the exam blueprint as indicated by the section scores.


How The Passing Score is Set

The passing score is established using statistical analysis as described in our previous blog “Building Exams: What we do behind the scenes to protect your credentials”. During the process, a committee of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) rates each exam question based on the minimally qualified candidate (MQC) definition that was established for the exam. These SME ratings are statistically analyzed and used to determine the minimum passing score for that exam. By following testing industry standards for setting the passing score, we can ensure the integrity, quality, and fairness of Cisco exams.


The Cisco #CertsandLabs team utilizes industry standards to develop and score our certification exams. Each step of the process is to ensure that all of our candidates are treated fairly. But remember, the score report is only the end result of your testing experience. Make sure you are prepared and equipped to get the passing score you deserve by reviewing our blogs, The Career Game Plan: Thinking Beyond the Cisco Certification Poster and What is the Right Way to Prepare for a Cisco Exam? Your feedback is valuable and we want you to know that #CiscoCertsisListening to your concerns. We hope that this assists in your understanding of exam scoring and what the score reports communicate to you.