A new type of performance-based lab exam item is giving Cisco Associate and Professional Certification exam candidates more opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. These lab items complement the more traditional multiple-choice and drag-and-drop item types, which are particularly suited to measure skills related to theory, knowledge, and conceptual comprehension. This new lab item type aims to measure the application of knowledge in a hands-on environment for configuring and troubleshooting.
Just as someone must get behind the wheel of a car and navigate through traffic to demonstrate driving skills for their driving test, Cisco candidates should use real routers, actual Cisco gear, and products to demonstrate their skills and abilities to perform specific tasks. Like in real-life situations, when candidates work with devices, they are often free to use their preferred configuration options, as long as they produce the expected outcome. For example, candidates can enter the prompts they prefer if the device is configured correctly at the end. This goes far beyond their respective “running configuration” since, in the workplace, the focus is on achieving the desired result that aligns with the given requirements.
While the path to get to the end state is not the priority, candidates should be conscious of how long they work on each lab item. The whole exam is timed, but candidates have no limits on how long they spend on each question. These new labs are designed to give candidates 5-7 minutes to complete. So they should be mindful of how much time they need to spend on items throughout the exam.
Key features of performance-based lab exam items
One of the key features of the new lab items is their simple, intuitive User Interface (UI) that splits the screen horizontally into two main panels. The left panel has three top tabs for easy navigation between the Tasks (instructions on the tasks at hand and requirements for each step), Guidelines (things candidates should not change), and the Topology (a network diagram for tasks). The right panel is a web-based terminal with tabs for each device the candidate needs to perform the required tasks.
The UI’s design helps users maximize their focus by letting them interact with the terminals while always being able to consult the topology diagram, as shown in the following figure example.
The UI provides multiple navigation options. Users can navigate between terminal tabs using keyboard shortcuts and may manually reorder terminal tabs, but they cannot split the right panel to see two or more terminals at the same time. At any time, candidates may use the send-to-all feature that sends one or more command lines to all devices at once. From the left topology panel, users may click on the device icon to activate the corresponding terminal tab on the right panel. The topology diagram is interactive and supports zooming in and out as well as resetting the zoom to the original default size.
Once candidates dive into the exam, they may encounter performance-based labs, multiple-choice items, and drag-and-drop items. Again, the important thing is to move forward and get as far as possible through the exam. Candidates can skip any item and move to the next item, but they cannot go back to a previous item.
How performance-based lab exam items build opportunities
The ultimate benefit of these new labs is the candidate’s opportunities after passing the exam. One of the values of certification is to help differentiate yourself among your peers and in the job market. Our certification recipients tell us that their Cisco Certification helps them demonstrate their continued competency in this fast-paced, quickly evolving marketplace. Enhancing Cisco’s exams with performance-based lab items provides additional opportunities for candidates to demonstrate to current and future employers that they have the skills and abilities needed to perform their job.
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Does this include the DevNet track or no?
We will be adding lablets to the DevNet track this year.
Which exams can we expect these on? Would hate to walk into an exam thinking I was prepared only to be caught off guard.
Our advice is to continue to use the exam topics as your study and prep guide. Where action-based verbs are used, candidates should be prepared to be presented with performance-based question types.
To keep the conversation going further with the broader community, please do also consider leveraging the Cisco Learning and Certifications forums spaces over on the Cisco Learning Network. There you are able to further connect with a community of folks pursuing learning and certification goals along similar tracks as yourself. Lots of knowledge sharing over there as well! 😊
Thank you very much,
When will this be applied to Professional exams.
We are advising all candidates to be prepared to encounter these question types on all Associate & Professional level exams moving forward. Please be sure to use the exam topics as a guide here. Any items that use action-oriented verbs to describe a topic is fair game for a performance-based question type.
I think this is a good idea. However, getting through the ENCORE exam in the time allowed is already extremly difficult esepcially for those with reading and comprehension problems such as myself. Adding labs will now make this near impossible.
We definitely hear and understand that concern. Please rest assured that the exams are developed with a reasonable expectation of time management in mind. This is an ongoing consideration for the management of all exams, and as this new question type is added to the exams the team works to adjust accordingly.
Best of luck to you.
When will the labs be implemented into the CCNA? I have my CCNA booked for Monday and have been hardcore focusing on theory for the last month and haven’t been labbing, are the LABS already implemented into the CCNA?
We are advising all candidates to be prepared to encounter these question types on all Associate & Professional level exams moving forward. It is definitely always advised that candidates prepare for the CCNA exam by practicing their hands-on skills in a lab environment to ensure their knowledge of the topics is sufficient for an Associate level. Please pay particular attention to the exam topic items that use action-orientated language such as “demonstrate” or “verify” to indicate possible performance-based questions.
You might also consider joining the CCNA Community Forum on the Cisco Learning Network to ask your peers for additional insight and guidance into preparing for the exam.
Hello, what is exact date when candidates will see labs actually in exams?
At this point, we are advising all candidates to be prepared to encounter these new question types on all Associate & Professional level exams moving forward. Keep in mind that the exams pull from question banks, so folks may or may not actually encounter these question types. Any exam topic that is performance-based is fair game though, so obviously “configure, verify, etc…”
Thank you very much and best of luck to you!
Will tab complete and ? (question mark) be supported from the CLI?
“?”, “tab completion” and almost all keyboard shortcuts should work.
These are not “SIM” questions like before, this is real Cisco IOS environment… Commands can be typed in short and do not need to be expanded with the tab (assuming that the short version is correct and has only one possible continuation).
Where i can get this lab based exam question types? It would be better for me to prepare those labs questions according to the types.
Hi, it’s no fair change rules so quickly. During long time you introduce that on exams will be only teoretical questions so we prepare to teoretical questions. It’s no fair for these People. If you world like to mąkę changes you should Give time to prepare.
I can prepare to drive exam. If you learn drive on Toyota and during the exam will be Toyota it’s not fair if you go to exam and you will get Hyundai. You should time to prepare to this change for people.
Yes Jakub you are correct, I agree, because the anxiety associated with the idea of added difficulty is enough to make people over-react and bomb out on the exam. That kind of pressure can temporarily force panic mode and cause someone to not recall information that was already learned!
All those moaning on here about not being given enough time to prepare for these labs- you are supposed to do practical LABS as part of your training for the relevant exams – not just read study guides or worse still – brain dumps! How are you expected to do the job of a network technician or God-forbid a network Engineer, without being able to do simple confiurations?
Study smart, Lab Hard, Pass some mock exams. Then go for the real exam.
And NO braindumps
Holy, will VIRL still be enought for practice?
I found completing the CCNA very difficult with the time allotted, that’s without this new style of lab questions. As I am approaching my CCNP exams I do not advise nor believe it is fair to incorporate these lab-style questions without increasing the time limit.
Is it necessary to use physical routers and switches or Cisco Packet Tracer/GNS3 in performance-based lab exam?
I found the performance-based lab exam item type to be a great addition and dare I say, fun to complete. Truly an opportunity. I felt like I was able to quickly demonstrate many years of “doing” networking, as opposed to answering theoretical questions and what sometimes feels like mere talk. You need a network to produce for the business, and you need highly-proficient engineers that demonstrate raw technical competence. This may sound harsh, but this exam item type is also a great opportunity to help weed out candidates that do not put in the time and effort to do the requisite amount of labs and practice the craft. To continue to be relevant, Cisco certifications must be hard-earned and protected against imposters. This helps with that, so good work!
Do we know how many performance-based exam style questions to expect on an exam such as the ENARSI? Will the time of the exam increase from 90 mins?
why remove it in the first place? it makes us confused as to what to expect and focus, can you please make an updated statement and new study guide? experimental not effective ey?
I think this change is positive. The certification will now validate hands on, not dumps on. Passing it should have more value from now on
Would the lab be mandatory for the CCNA exams moving forward, or it’s optional?
I took (and passed) the CCNP ENARSI exam a few days ago and did not encounter the performance-based lab exams. Will these not be included in every exam or is not yet introduced? I would be keen to know for any other exams moving forward!
Based on all the comments hereto, please define what is the meaning of : “be prepared to encounter these question types on all Associate & Professional level exams moving forward”? What do you mean “…moving forward…”? Can we assume that Cisco will give at least 3 months preparation time from the date of this announcement (announced July 2022), beacuse it is not a matter of having or not having virtual labs in our CCNA course. It is a matter of the focus during the preparation study, the total availiable preparation time, and of course the CCNA exam cost.
If they are labs in the exam does that mean there are fewer questions overall on the exam and do the labs have more of a percentage per question?
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