News that everyone has been expecting eagerly: Effective May 10th Cisco is taking the core knowledge section off the CCIE R&S and Voice lab exams! Over a year of existence, this part of the exam received most controversy of all. There has been a lot of things said about how flawed the idea of core knowledge testing was. Firstly, a test of four questions could never properly assess anyone’s knowledge. Secondly, error margin was unacceptable high due to vaguely presented questions and unclear grading procedure. Lastly, some recent promo actions that Cisco ran created a lot of controversy in the CCIE community. However, good or bad, it’s all gone now, and this fact should be a huge relief for many CCIE candidates. The time that has been previosly allocated to OEQs is now reallocated to the Configuration section, so you now have extra 30 minutes of configuration time.

What next? Hopefully, Cisco has a plan to deal with those who failed Core Knowledge before that change, but passed the Configuration section. Also, we sincerely hope Cisco would introduce more “fine-grained” procedures to thwart brain-dumpers and preserve the exam integrity. Plus, we still have to see Troubleshooting added to SP and Security tracks and OEQ eliminated there as well. We shall see!

The official information could be found at the CCIE page:

About Petr Lapukhov, 4xCCIE/CCDE:

Petr Lapukhov's career in IT begain in 1988 with a focus on computer programming, and progressed into networking with his first exposure to Novell NetWare in 1991. Initially involved with Kazan State University's campus network support and UNIX system administration, he went through the path of becoming a networking consultant, taking part in many network deployment projects. Petr currently has over 12 years of experience working in the Cisco networking field, and is the only person in the world to have obtained four CCIEs in under two years, passing each on his first attempt. Petr is an exceptional case in that he has been working with all of the technologies covered in his four CCIE tracks (R&S, Security, SP, and Voice) on a daily basis for many years. When not actively teaching classes, developing self-paced products, studying for the CCDE Practical & the CCIE Storage Lab Exam, and completing his PhD in Applied Mathematics.

Find all posts by Petr Lapukhov, 4xCCIE/CCDE | Visit Website

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59 Responses to “Bye-Bye Core Knowledge Section!”

  1. butch_deadlift says:

    Yes…I for one would very much like to know more about if, and how, Cisco plans on resolving prior failures solely due to the core knowledge section.

  2. Dana says:

    Just heard this a couple minutes ago in the global CCIE meeting. Good news for many candidates, it should give more confidence when sitting the lab.

  3. Dana says:


    This question was addressed in the meeting. They have no plans on re-scoring previous attempts.

  4. Jesus Espinoza says:

    Great news!!! :)

  5. schoutentl says:

    While I didn’t like the open-ended questions (souly because I would answer them right, and still get marked as wrong on INE’s quiz’s). I still think studying for them has been helpful. I’m personally going to continue studying as if they’re on the exam. It really has helped me increase my confidence in what I was thinking. Not to mention it helps to look back on the basics and see something in a new way. Just me and my opinion though. Work got in the way of me joining the meeting today that stunk. But glad to see it posted on here.

  6. Paul says:

    Now if only they’ll do this for SP. I passed the config but failed the OEQ. Vowed to not move on with CCIE certs (I already have R&S) and now I’m working on Alcatel-Lucent SRA.

  7. Kurt Kruegel says:

    that was dumb anyway ….
    let’s ask random questions unrelated to the lab at hand …..

  8. jkdrouter says:

    OEQ were never a problem for properly prepared R&S candidates.

  9. hamed hajeer says:

    great news…my exam at 17th May :-)

  10. Rizzo says:

    Well, What crime security candidates commited to be punished by OEQ? Why Cisco always been so biased toward Security track? First very less resurces and its always been hard for all of us who took interest in this track. Can some give solid reason for not to strip from Security track?

    IMHO, Cisco is R&S company and jumped into Video and Voice few years back. So they want old bread and butter going but to add more spices to it they want Voice CCIE as well. Cisco Never been very much serious in Security market although they have killer devices to compete with others.

    Cisco is so much in love with R&S and doesn’t come from it. Please open your eyes and smell coffee, other vendors are taking market.

  11. Tony says:

    I wonder how long it will be before they remove OEQs from the SP exam….

  12. Eric says:

    While I agree that OEQ shouldn’t be a problem for the well prepared, this just levels the playing field for non 360 students. For tracks that still have OEQ, I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually got replaced by a TS section eventually.

  13. JP Senior says:

    I’m a tad bit shocked this was not announced for the security track… The redheaded stepchild… :)

  14. Luis says:

    Somebody owes me a CCIE lol! It probably won’t happen like that. I see vouchers being sent to people though.

  15. Bruce says:

    How or where has this information been published.. This is huge, i aced the Configuration portion of the exam, although failed the OED portion. So I’m all ears!!

  16. Cristian says:

    To those looking for fairness for the Security and SP tracks: you guys want the OEQ removed from there. How about trouble tickets? Do you have them? Do you want them?

  17. [...] According to my friends at INE by May 10th you don’t have to answer any OEQ anymore! Great! [...]

  18. wahlberg1979 says:

    I had an attempt in RS on Aug 12th 2009 and failed only in OEQ section but I passed in configuration.

    Even if its been 8 months do you think that my exam will be regraded as well ?

    I couldnt find the official announcement on Cisco web page yet ? Do you have info on that as well ?


  19. Cristian says:

    So what is happening now with the people who bought OEQ related materials :-) Do they get their money back too?

  20. JN says:

    All CCIE tracks should have a consistent testing framework, OEQs should be removed for all tracks.

  21. Alex says:

    But cisco added Troubleshoting Section to CCIE Voice track?

    All candidate need pass Troubleshoting Section in CCIE Voice begin to start in 10 May or no?

    Or only CCIE Candidate take labs configuration only?

  22. Rizzo says:


    Security track already got Troubleshooting section embeded into Lab exam, so please do some research before posting comments. How about a person who sliped his CCIE number by not passing one question? passed 2 question out of 4 and pass Lab config? As know three correct answers are needed in OEQ section. What would you say? fair???

  23. nikhil says:

    hey , is there going to be any change in the number of questions that we get in the configuration part .

  24. JP Senior says:

    Cristian said,
    >To those looking for fairness for the Security and SP tracks: you guys >want the OEQ removed from there. How about trouble tickets? Do >you have them? Do you want them?

    Absolutely! I’d sure love to be in control of my own destiny, where skill and speed do matter. The arbitrary failures of the core knowledge section of the voice and rs labs are horrifying. Anybody can pop open a documentation site page and pull out a random factoid from the middle of nowhere, designed to fail ‘experts’.

  25. Alex says:

    But CCIE VOICE no have Troubleshooting Section then cisco added Troubleshooting Section 10 May? or no?

  26. tod says:

    this disgusts me! i failed the lab twice on open ended questions. i passed the configuration. i have spent years studying for it and have proved that i understand the technologies. Yet now because the exam has moved on and changed i have no money for new materials and have suffered serious stress and depression. I simply couldnt bring myself to study for the 4.0 version. Now i find that this section is being removed because it was a failure in itself. Very unfair on some genuinely talented engineers who sacrificed years of study to be denied their certification because of a couple of obscure questions that were not even double checked. it really makes me sick.

  27. rodski says:

    I just barely passed the configuration but failed due to open ended questions. do you think they will now review labs for the candidates who have been unjustly failed after giving up on life for this certification?

  28. Cristian says:

    @JP Senior
    I agree with you, this OEQ are just testing your memory and that would be all. I would rather replace them with some sort of scenarios that would test your understanding of how the things work. This is difficult and Cisco has a problem with creating an endless number of scenarios to prevent the brain dumping.

    Hopefully the trouble tickets will be good enough for this.

    Really ? I had no idea. I am curios, do the INE study materials for SP contain such “embedded” trouble tickets?
    Is there a demo available online? Can you point me to that section where the things are wrong and you are supposed to fix them? I am really curious to see how you would discriminate between an untended error and a trouble ticket.

  29. Cristian says:

    sorry for the un(in)tended typo …can’t edit the message

  30. Greg says:

    Awesome !!! …..

    I suck at these theory type ‘exams’ anyway, as I’m a lot better at the practical application side ! You’ve made my month Cisco & INE :-)

  31. Dennis says:

    I’ve failed it twice!!! Thanks OEQ!!!

  32. 25580 says:

    Goodbye OEQ for CCIE R/S and Voice…

    Actually I haven’t found any reference on Cisco web site according to that yet.  Anyway it it’s true I would feel little disappointed since I’ve failed CCIE R/S twice and the first one due to OEQ…….

  33. Chets says:

    But where is the official announcement ??!!!

  34. paks kal says:

    Well thts great news :)
    is there any plan for rest of tracks CCIE SP

  35. Jilljo_ccie says:

    What will happen to guys who failed only in CK and passed in Lab before the troubleshooting section was introduced.Is cisco considering those as well?

  36. ccie r&s says:

    that’s wrong. what if you know you’re right but the proctor still flags your answer as wrong. what if you’re not a native English speaker and give an answer that could be interpreted wrongly, while you were sure that your answer was correct.

    think about it, smart guy.

    >OEQ were never a problem for properly prepared R&S candidates.

  37. Rizzo says:


    I have no fear or trouble having seprate 2 hrs troubleshooting section. I would prefer to have control over my tickets then flukes of answers. But in term of Security Lab Exam format, I am not representing Cisco and that question should have been asked to Cisco. They should come out with solid reaseon about other tracks like Security and SP. Look my first post about it. If you feel that Security is easier for you then I would say start working on this track rather getting jealouse about it. ;)

    I been told by INE Instructor, Technicaly Its not possible to have trouble tickets in Security track due to nature of it. So they have embeded into Lab exam. So you better complain to Cisco “Why they didn’t do it to Sec track? instead of crying here and begging me to answer it.

    If Cisco comes out with Trouble tickets for Security then they have to reomve OEQ as well.

  38. Yti says:

    Orale! these are great news, that section makes you waste ONE HOUR, out of the exam. This is a great step toward having a Lab exam maintained PRACTICAL! As it was supposed to be in the first place!

  39. Ronnie_hitman says:

    I feel relaxed now at least i dont have to worry about OEQ anymore. I will do my attempt ASAP, never know cisco guyz will come up with something else more awful than OEQ…. :)

    Speed up chaps..


  40. gt says:

    So what is the ORIGINAL source of this announcement? So far as I can find it’s not anywhere on CCO.

  41. Josh says:

    While I’m glad to see the OEQs are finally removed, I too am upset. I failed the 3.0 exam in April 2009 due to OEQ. At that time I decided it was best to stop my pursuit since it was just too much of a gamble to invest all that time, money, and effort. Once I heard about the 360 waiver program, I petitioned my employer to send me to a qualifying class. The ONLY reason I wanted to take the class was to obtain the waiver. Well, that class ended last Friday, and now this announcement. Finally Cisco steps up and admits the OEQs were a failed experiment. My training budget is wasted, and Cisco isn’t going to reread my previous exam attempt. Now what? Spend more time, money, energy, on the 4.0 exam and material? Lovely.. What a mess.

  42. sammy says:

    INE, please tell me where they are allocating the 4 points allocated the OEQ to the CCIE LAB

  43. Yaman says:

    Although I am happy the OEQ are being removed, I seriously do not see the fuss of this section being an issue. I failed my lab attempts not knowing why I failed thanks to Cisco’s marking strategies….I passed the OEQs on both attempts and to be frankly honest they were a piece of cake, simple and I say easy questions they were. OK they were a pain but they were no deal breakers in my opinion it took 10 mins in average to answer, as long as you know the answer :-) ….Now come on guys, I wet my pants on the config sections and laugh at the OEQs and ironically, some ace the configuration but wet their pants at the sight of OEQs…..I say my experiences of OEQs were a piece of cake but I am all for seeing the back end of them….

    I have 1 question though, since the OEQs are gone, does this mean we have 30 mins more for configuration section, or does it mean CISCO DEVILS will add more configuration section tasks? I would appreciate an answer if anyone has info…….Good luck to all.

  44. paks kal says:

    Now it official :)

  45. Ian Finlayson says:

    Fantastic News!!!!
    Those extra 30 minutes on the Config Section will be really welcome!!!

  46. idle says:

    That’s too bad! OEQs were the easiest 21 points! 21 points in 30 mins is just an insane point/hr ratio.

    • @Idle

      I could not argue whether or not the OEQs were hard at all, but the point was that idea was flawed at the very origin – it was not statistically relevant to achieve proper “filtering” and it didn’t have transparent grading procedure.

  47. paks kal says:

    will there be news for other tracks in near future

    i hope for that

    if they think OEQ is not good idea then why to keep it on other tracks

    i think Tshoot section might not yet ready for the other tracks

    well i hope for the SP track to remove the OEQ

  48. Cristian says:

    I am not begging you for an answer, I don’t need one, I was just teasing you and judging by your irritated answer it worked. The two tracks you are mentioning above SP and Security are anyway easier to pass than R&S, they are complementary tracks and yes I might choose to go for one of them after and if I am done with R&S.
    The jealous one is you :) ) :) ), you are asking for OEQ to be removed. So far with OEQ the candidates have been passing the the SP and Security but not many have passed the R&S so if you have an issue with that you take it to Cisco, so far you have an issue that you are asking to be resolved.

  49. Yaman says:

    I wonder, Cisco initially announced “as of 01/04/10, anyone who has successfully completed the 360 learning program can request a waiver for the OEQs”. Obviously now this is true for everyone, however; looking at it from the perspective of passing the lab at all cost (which is what matters)

    1) Did the initial announcement meant, people who completed the 360 program were at an advantage of 30 minutes added to their lab times, or did they get a longer lab section weighted by 30 mins more config.

    2) I asked before but I suppose no one yet knows. The question(s) is –

    i) Is Cisco going to keep the lab portion of the exam the same size pre May 10th 2010? Therefore it really means you get extra 30mins config time. (This is what everyone believes, bit I am not so optimistic)

    ii) “Big OR and mores or’s”, Does loosing the OEQs mean Cisco have to reshuffle the points on the lab exam to increase the points value of questions so to come up with 21 points and counter the loss of OEQ’s, or add 21 points worth of new questions,? If the later is the case, then I cannot see why people will be so happy to lose the OEQs that were worth a LLLOOOTTT “as someone mentioned earlier ~21 points over 30 mins~ which was brilliant!!! In essence who gives a toss about 30 mins extra, unless you are close to having a brain the size of a planet i.e. Petr Lupkov’s :-) then you will not be able to do 21 points worth of questions in 30 mins. Assuming any of my points are the case on this matter except (i), then technically loss of OEQs is NO GOOD NEWS; quite the contrary it is bad news loosing OEQs.

    Once again, I am hoping Cisco is being fair, and they make their NOT-SO-STABLE CHANGES a stable one for a change. Even though I love Cisco’s networking ethos, I am disgusted with their experimentation in real lab exams just to find the right balance of examination techniques, at the end of the day it’s $1400 + taxes for an exam and it must be daunting for anyone who failed due to only failing the OEQs –

    One more thing, which is irrelevant to the OEQs but quite relevant to why Cisco may be causing so much anger with their examination techniques.

    When they tell you the DO’s and DO N’Ts of an exam, be it the TS or the LAB portion, then any method in resolving a TS question or configuring a Lab scenario should be valid so long as you achieve the scenario desired bearing in mind the rules- You may say YES that is the case, but my experience is a NO-NO. You have to pay attention to the DO’s and the DON’Ts as well as achieving the scenario desired in the way Cisco like it….Well there is the right way but there is also a Cisco deemed right way, which is imperative to passing the LAB. (Big words for someone who has not passed yet but will soon)

    Example Question… There is a problem between R1 and R2 ******____*****Please fix the problem. (Cisco will tell you a little more about what the problem is but I cannot due to possible NDA violation) – So you check the DONTs of the section while fixing that problem and you even check with the proctor (be aware of subtlety ), you can say “ I will fix this problem bearing in mind the DON’Ts of the section”, therefore every other solution you may use to fix a problem should be valid…..NO, and a big NO. You have to fix the problem and while fixing, i.e. you cannot remove an ACL that could be part of the problem, but you may have to EDIT the ACL (this is only an example). Well if you remove the ACL to fix the problem Cisco may grade your solution as INCORRECT, even though they do not mention this in the DON’Ts section…Seriously what on earth is wrong with Cisco, you have very little time in the TS section and to sit there, pay attention to details like ACLs and edit them rather than remove them to fix a problem is not fair nor realistic, after all in the real world you have a bit time to fix problems but in a priority 1 scenario which is what I think Cisco is trying to achieve by the time pressure on the TS section, then removing an ACL rather than editing should be classed as VALID!!! – I will say again the scenarios given are factious but are used to make my points clear.

    Cisco need to stop being vague. If Cisco does not want a candidate to achieve a task in a way they see fit, please mention it in the exam so we can give a solution that the dumb grading script can recognise as correct, otherwise I am doubtful of the fairness of an exam, I say this as I have seen so many so called CCIE’s it’s a joke I am not one when compared, and I finish by complementing myself 


  50. Kent says:

    @idle – and neither were they awarded 21 points.

  51. Backbone says:

    Cisco is consistently Inconsistent in its CCIE policies like its IOS software…….


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