In a continuing effort to protect the integrity of the CCIE program, Cisco has announced a major change regarding the retake policy of the CCIE Written and Practical Lab exams. These changes take effect on August 1, 2014. Assuming a candidate happens not to pass on their first attempt at either a written or a practical “lab” exam within a given track, the frequency with which they will be allowed to retake the exam will change dramatically from past allowances, effectively not allowing the candidate virtually ‘unlimited’ retakes within a single calendar year (more specifically, within 12 calendar months from the date of the first attempt).

Changes to CCIE Practical Lab Exam

Perhaps the most interest for most people will be the frequency with which one will be allowed to re-sit for a CCIE Lab exam. Assuming a candidate does not pass on their first attempt at a given lab exam, they will still be allowed to attempt to retake the exam after 30 days has elapsed. The major change comes with the possibility that the candidate does not pass on their second attempt – after this attempt they must now wait for another 90 days to make their third attempt. Unlikely, but assuming a failure on attempt three, and a need to sit for attempt four, the candidate must wait another 90 days. Same goes for attempt four to attempt five. After a very, very bad year whereby a need to appear a sixth time becomes necessary, the wait period goes up to a full six months between attempts. The changes can be seen in a screenshot from a recent webinar below (after the jump).

A very bad year for someone who fails five times.

Changes to CCIE Written Lab Exam

Next up are the changes to the CCIE Written exam. These changes are a bit more straightforward – wait time between failures increases from 5 days to 15 days, and you simply may not attempt the written exam more than 4 times in a single calendar year. Again, the changes can be seen in a screenshot from the same webinar.

Maximum of 4 attempts per year.


The webinar discussed above can be found here, and it goes on to discuss a large number of other very interesting topics such as the new role of the Network Programability Engineer (SDN, OnePK, ACI/APIC) and the dedicated DevNet lounge that Cisco will have coming up in a few weeks at Cisco Live in San Francisco. Some other smaller changes are also announced in the webinar, such as the new re-scoring policy. The major changes announced above start around the 35 minute mark into the webinar. The re-scoring policy change pertains mainly to the new fact that a candidate may now pay $400USD to have any relevant output (show, debug, etc) obtained by scripts or by proctors during the grading of your CCIE lab exam (any CCIE lab) reviewed again to decide if they may possibly reverse your previous ‘Fail’ to a ‘Pass’. This is different than the reread (which is still only available for the R&S and SP tracks at the cost of $600USD), whereby your full lab configurations are reloaded onto the relevant devices and the entire grading performed a second time. Also of interest and discussed in the webinar are the current policies of rescheduling labs both outside of the 90 days for free and also within the 90 day window for a small fee (if your credit card or wire transfer has already been processed).


The changes Cisco is making are done with one purpose in mind – namely to protect the integrity of the CCIE Program while maintaining that candidates apply themselves aptly in a rigorous manner leading up to their attempt at an examination. Anyone properly prepared, with a thorough understanding of every possible permutation of every technology listed in the blueprint for the track they are studying for, still has only to go and apply the technologies they’ve studied hard to learn, and expect success.

About Mark Snow, CCIE #14073:

Mark Snow has been actively working with data and traditional telephony as a Network Consulting Engineer since 1995, and has been working with Cisco Call Manager and voice-over technology since 1998. Mark has been actively teaching and developing content for the CCIE Voice track since 2005, and the Security track since 2007. Mark's story with both data and voice technology started out quite young, as he began learning around the age of five from his father who was a patented inventor and a research scientist at AT&T Bell Laboratories. Mark started out on Unix System V and basic analog telephony, and went on from there to large data networking projects with technologies such as Banyan Vines, IPX and of course IP, and large phone systems such as Nortel 61c, Tadiran Coral, Avaya Definity and of course Cisco Unified Communications Manager in both enterprise and 911 PSAP environments across the US and internationally. Mark is also an accomplished pilot and punched his ticket in 2001. When Mark isn't learning, labing, consulting or teaching, he can be found either piloting or possibly jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, hanging off a rock somewhere or else skiing out west. He also might just be enjoying a quiet day at the beach with his wife and two wonderful young kids, Ryleigh and Judah.

Find all posts by Mark Snow, CCIE #14073 | Visit Website

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22 Responses to “Protecting the Integrity of the CCIE – Major Retake Policy Changes”

  1. dennisd says:

    I think they are rational changes. I assume if one only failed 4 times in a give calendar year, the counter resets to 30 after 12 months from the first attempt.

  2. Alessio says:

    Not enough…. But it is a very good start point.

  3. strangerq says:


    Apply this policy and internally do not allow the Labs to age by more than 6 months.

    It’s better to have only 3 labs in circulation at a time than to have 30 and then let them sit their for a year, after which time they have all been cracked and virtually every candidate knows this by now.

  4. JK says:

    What does this mean if you’ve got failed attempts prior to August? Say, you come in to August with 4 attempts in the previous year. Do you get to “start over” with a 30 day retake if you were to fail in August, or does your history prior to August count against you?

  5. Denis L says:

    Hi Brian.
    What about if I am fail in RS lab then I try SP lab.
    Does the failed RS lab is counted for the SP lab?

  6. Klaus says:

    Hi Brian,
    what about one candidate with 3 attempts on CCIE-RS v4, then he/she go for 1st attempt on CCIE-RS v5 and fails.

    Does he/she has to wait 90days for 2nd attempt on v5 ?

    From my point of view, a new exam version should reset the attempt counters to 0.


  7. Peter says:

    Hi INE,

    Maybe you can confirm or disconfirm this at Cisco Live to :)

    I’ve heard rumors the retake policy will be based on your last lab exam score. If you score high and close to passing you are able retake the exam more frequent then people only scoring 5%. Cisco is trying to disallow those who only come to do the lab for memorization.
    Who will pay 1500 bucks anyway if you know you are only able to do 5-10%? Only dumpsters…. So it makes sence to me :)

    90 or even 180 days is a long wait if you scored 75% on your last attempt.

  8. Shaun Louw says:

    Is there any update on the question of whether new rules as of 2 August will be applied retrospecitvely? E.g. If I fail written exam 3 times in calendaer year 2014, after 2 August do I only get one more shot?

  9. syed Ali says:

    I want to know if within 18 month’s of passing CCIE(R&S) theory exam unable to go for lab exam then do i have to give theory exam again or can i proceed for lab exam thank you…

  10. Dexter says:


    Can anybody tell me what is the validtiy of writen ccie exam ?

    It is 2 years valid or 3 years ?

    And if i take the ccie written exam,it will renew my other cisco certifications validity ?



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