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

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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.
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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

  • Types of Questions: A mix of traditional Multiple Choice (single and multiple answers). You may find drag-and-drop type questions as well as scenario-based questions where a scenario or topology is presented and you need to answer a series of questions based on the exhibit.
  • Number of Questions: 90 to 110 depending on specifics of the pool selected.
  • Passing Score: Essentially Pass/Fail. The passing score is set by statistical analysis and may be changed periodically. The overall score will be reported on a scale from 300-1000.

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!

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