How the mechanics of the different question types work
This blog is in response to a reader (and potentially many others) who wants to know more about the types of questions they will encounter on the CCDE practical exam and mainly to demystify them by touching upon what their purpose is and how they are scored.
The CCDE practical exam is made up by four unique scenarios. Each scenario uses a unique hypothetical story with fictitious company names (I have a lot of fun creating the names!) across different industries and verticals. Within the story there are many steps, twists and turns in which we can assess network design skills. But how does the assessment actually happen? Through exhibits and questions!
The exhibits on the CCDE practical exam scenario
The exhibits are used to establish the context of the scenarios. They will convey the business and technical requirements as well as constraints and decisions (level set) on the exam and will be distributed along the scenario (not all at once), as the story unfolds.
Different question types serve different purposes on the CCDE practical exam
Multiple-Choice: It is a question or instructions which require one or multiple responses, typically used to recall information, demonstrate an understanding of facts or the application of knowledge to actual situations which can include graphical elements. To interact with this question type, select as many options as indicated on the stem. It can accommodate optimal (worth more points) and suboptimal solutions (worth less points).
Branching: It is a 2-level deep question. The first level, or parent, is typically used to either evaluate options and make a decision or identify a potential issue. The second level is known as the child or children and is used to either justify the decision made within the parent or address the issue. Not all options branch out. To interact with this question type, select as many options as indicated on the stem in the parent. If there is only one correct response, the parent is typically worth 0 points and the correct child is scored. It can accommodate optimal (worth more points on the parent and/or child) and suboptimal solutions (worth less points on the parent and/or child). The following question or exhibit level sets the decision for the remainder of the solutions that the scenario will adopt, and it may or may not be a good decision.
Drag&Drop: It is used to order or select options based on the understanding of facts. To interact with this question type, drag options one by one and drop each of them into the appropriate target. There may be more options than targets. Typically it is worth multiple points with partial scoring. On this example, the brown target is worth one point and the blue targets are collectively worth an additional point. Observe that the point assignments are not indicated on the exam, so analyze each option/target individually.
Label Drag&Drop: It is used to group or categorize options. To interact with this question type, drag options one by one and drop each of them into the appropriate group or category set. There may be more options than targets. Typically it is worth multiple points with partial scoring. On this example, the purple targets are collectively worth one point and the green target is worth an additional point. Observe that the point assignments are not indicated on the exam, so analyze each option/target individually.
Table: It is typically used to compare and contrast different options, to determine where to deploy which technology or feature, or which solutions meet which requirements. There could be single-answer per row or multiple-answer per row. To interact with this question type, make as many selections as indicated on the stem per row. Typically it is worth multiple points, with partial scoring. On the first example, the two green rows are collectively worth one point and the purple row is worth another point. On the second example, the green column is worth one point, and the two purple columns are collectively worth another point. Observe that the point assignments are not indicated on the exam, so analyze each cell individually.
Hotspot: It is typically used to assemble or complete a meaningful solution. To interact with this question type, drag from a set of figures, icons or text and selectively drop them onto pre-determined spots on the canvas as shown with the blue rectangles in the top images of the example. Typically it is worth multiple points with partial scoring. Observe that the point assignments are not indicated on the exam, so analyze each selection individually.
Simulation: Whenever we want to assess multiple inter-related scenario concepts that the other question types covered previously will not support, we build a simulation. It is typically an evolution of the hotspot, with a more complex scoring, yet typically provides a greater possibility to receive multiple points through partial scoring.
The exhibits and questions will convey the context and cadence of the CCDE practical exam scenario. Using them allows you to “connect” with the scenario and keep the following things in perspective:
- Determine which information you will use to base your decisions
- Determine which technology “best” fits where
- Respond to customers ever changing challenges
- Create a personalized design to meet the requirements within constraints
- Create a deployment plan
- Validate your design
- Make adjustments as necessary
I hope this blog clarified how the questions and exhibits set the context for the CCDE practical exam scenario, and that it gave you some perspective on what the different question types are used for and how they are scored.
Is there a topic you want to hear about on my upcoming blogs? Add it to the comments field!
Elaine Lopes is the CCDE and CCAr Certifications Program Manager and Team Lead for the CCIE program team, and she’s passionate about how lives can change for the better through education and certification.
Here are a few additional ways for us to engage and keep the conversation going:
- Cisco Learning Network CCDE Study Group
- Connect on Twitter too
- CCDE study materials for the Written and Practical exams
- Related Unleashing CCDE blogs: New Year Resolution, Top 5 CCDE Study Tips, Constructing your CCDE Practical Exam Strategy Part 1 with Nick Russo, A Milestone Approach to the CCDE Certification, Myth Busters and the CCDE Practical Exam, How to Form a CCDE Study Group by Daniel Dib