CCIE-W v2 Written: Uhm, this is ready?

Cisco recently launched their beta for the CCIE Wireless v2 Written Exam and I figured what the heck for $50 I’ll give it a shot to see what happens. Now let’s clear some things up from the start, I took the v1 beta and got a 67 on it without much studying, then when it became production I passed it in June 2009 with a 933, so I’ve been there done that already once before. I’m also CCNA-Wireless and CCNP-Wireless certified, so I have a little experience with Cisco’s wireless tests. I had three reasons why I wanted to sit the test 1) given the scores are delayed 6 weeks or more if I pass my lab on my next attempt by the time the score comes in I’ll have re-certified for an additional 2 years 2) if I fail my next lab attempt this would be a cheap way of restarting my timer for the lab and 3) I wanted to provide feedback on the exams development, something I think is important.

Ok, with that out of the way let’s get down to business without breaking any NDA rules.

1) FOR THE BETA: FAILURE IS THE ONLY OPTION? This test was poorly delivered, I had so many errors and mistakes in my exam that even if I were to have done lets say a 90% correct I still had no chance of passing. I had about 4 exhibits that didn’t show up resulting in me using my best guess elimination trying to pick the right 2 or 3 correct answers that maybe had a chance of correlating together. There was a few questions that I had the same answer listed twice, but, the kicker is that had they used the right negative (can / can’t, etc) one of them would be the right answer! So when you are presented with that which one do you choose?!?

2) KNOW THY PHY! I was thoroughly impressed with the fact that Cisco actually made more questions regarding the physical RF layer on the exam. All through the NA/NP exams I have felt there is a lack of RF questions, the exams are more of a how do you design a Cisco solution than how do you design RF networks. This has resulted in me always recommending people look at the CWNP exams to supplement the Cisco exam series, something I’m hoping to do once I get those magical numbers.

3) KNOW THE OBSCURE! Anyone can answer a question that is obvious about the Cisco product line, but can you answer the strange odd questions about Fresnel zones and odd/even bits? Or can you answer the strange QoS questions regarding UP packet markings at all the different levels (switch, IOS AP, thin AP, WLC, etc) and where the markings are in the packets structure?

4) READ, READ, READ! You can never read those design guides or technotes enough times, each time you read them you’ll find something else that is important. If you are truly committed to the CCIE-Wireless track you’ll find yourself reading these documents a hundred times before your lab. All those exam questions have to be backed up somewhere so the answers are there, you just need to figure out how to retain all that obscure information from above.

5) GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY! The key is to take what you read a hundred times and actually try applying the practices in a lab environment, yes this is the written but if you start to get into the habit of doing labs now that will set you up for success later on when you sit the 8 hour expensive lunch known as the IE Lab.

6) FINALLY, HAVE FUN! I know this one seems strange, but it’s just a test, this doesn’t determine whether or not you are going to be a garbage man or a doctor. If you fail, you just know now what you need to study and what the questions are like.

So, to conclude I’m sure glad I didn’t spend the full price to sit this test, I am bummed that I’m out $50 without even having a chance at passing given all of my errors on my test, but I provided feedback to the development team that will hopefully allow them to create a better test once it hits production. So far from what I have heard from others that took the beta exam my experience seems to be on par with them as well. As long as we all provided feedback then Cisco got what they wanted, guinea pigs to let them know what needs to be fixed before it goes live.

If you sat the exam please feel free to post your feedback in the comments, I’d love to hear what others thought about the exam!


  1. Rob October 13, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Thanks Blake, who knows, you may have passed!

  2. Jason Boyers October 13, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Great observations, Blake. Passing in this case is based on what they determine after gathering all of the test results and going through the questions. So, you may just pass it yet.

    1. blake October 13, 2011 at 9:34 am

      Jason this is true, if everyone had a bad experience there is still hope!

  3. Andrea December 10, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Hey blake, I’ve just started my CCIE-W track and took the v2 beta to test the waters (I’ve got quite a bit of RF and WiFi, but not so much with Cisco).

    I also had several questions missing exhibits or with duplicate answers. All in all I think I did well, but we’ll know in January. Best of luck.

    1. blake December 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      Good luck Andrea, we should start to receive our beta results in the next few weeks I’m guessing. The general RF knowledge will help you a lot on the written, but not so much for the lab. I’ve talked to a couple of people that have sat v2 already, 1 passed, the other didn’t. It’s quite a different exam from what I’m gathering. There’s a lot on the blueprint to study, but remember not everything will be on the test!

  4. Tim December 15, 2011 at 8:58 am


    I agree it was THE WORST Cisco test that I had ever had the displeasure of sitting through. To add insult to injury I was fresh off of being laid off from Cisco when I took the test and I started steaming that they laid me off but kept the folks who wrote this crap exam 🙂 The only plus that I noticed (like you) was the increased focus on RF.

    Anyone gotten their results yet? Seems like they should have had them all graded by now since the “real” exam is already out…

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