PASS + PASS + PASS = FAIL !?Wow, time flies! It’s been now more than a year that CCIE R&S v5.0 was released!


And yet, one of the most common queries that I keep receiving is about the new scoring logic and specifically why a score report may show “PASS” for all three modules, but show an overall “FAIL” for the exam. It seems natural to assume that if a candidate passes all three of the modules, then they would pass the composite lab as well. However, there is a reason that someone could pass all three modules and still fail the overall lab.  While we’ve done our best to clearly communicate this new scoring logic, I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss the rationale behind it.


CCIE R&S v5.0 Scoring Logic

The 8-hour CCIE R&S v5.0 lab exam is composed of three independent exam modules: 2h Troubleshooting (TS), 30min Diagnostic (DIAG) and 5h30min Configuration (CFG).


To pass the CCIE lab exam, candidates must meet two conditions:

1. The examinee must meet or exceed the minimum score on each of the three modules


2. The examinee’s total score (the sum of each of the three modules) must meet or exceed the overall lab-exam cut score.


Failure to meet either of these criteria will result in failing the exam.


Essentially, candidates must achieve a minimum score on all three modules, which is like a minimum-level threshold. On top of that, the sum of their scores must reach the overall cut-score, a second-level threshold.


By the way, this is now applicable to CCIE SP as well.


Why did I fail if I passed all three modules!?

Remember that there are two scoring thresholds you have to achieve to pass. For example, if you scored the minimum score on all three modules, but your total score is lower than the overall lab exam’s cut-score, then you failed the exam. Your score report will show “PASS” for all three modules (you met condition #1 above), but will show “FAIL” for the overall lab exam (you did not meet condition #2 above).


Why is it so complex?

The good news is there is actually a big benefit for candidates behind this composite scoring logic: candidates can compensate weakness in one module with strength in another! As long as the minimum score is met for each module, there is still a chance of passing the exam (provided that your total score is high enough!).


Think of DIAG, which is the smallest module at only 30 minutes compared to 5h30min for CFG or 2h for TS. If we didn’t require a minimum score on each of the three modules, many candidates could still pass the lab exam while not even attempting the DIAG content, choosing to forfeit that score to focus on TS and CFG.


To be an expert and earn a CCIE, you should have competency in each of the three areas. Basically, this rule of the minimum score requires that candidates demonstrate minimum skills in DIAG, TS, and CFG (that is, are able to perform at the minimum score level).


So what should I target to pass the exam!?

As a general rule, candidates will have to obtain between 40-60% of the points for each of the three modules to reach the minimum score, and obtain between 60-80% of the points to meet the overall lab cut-score.


What’s a good exam strategy?

Of course, the higher your score the better – but, if – and only if you are stuck in DIAG and can’t seem to resolve the last portion of an item, then keep calm and do your best. Remember that you’re shooting to obtain between 40-60% of the points to meet the minimum requirement. Keep your confidence, stamina and mental disposition for CFG! Do not give up!


This new scoring metric is very different from the prior RSv4 scoring, where candidates were required to achieve 80% in both TS and CFG, which led to a significant “give-up factor” between TS and CFG. Those who realized that they didn’t achieve 80% in TS already knew they failed the exam and therefore didn’t perform at their best in CFG.


As always, I sincerely hope that these clarifications help you better prepare for your CCIE R&S lab exam. Please do not hesitate to share your comments, questions or concerns below.