It’s still a bit early since the lab hasn’t been put in place yet, but we can derive a few things from Cisco’s posts and from conversations I’ve had with others. The 30-minute Diagnostic section falls between the Troubleshooting and Configuration sections of the practical lab exam.
Why do we have this new section? Did we need to add one more way to test? Based on what I hear from Cisco insiders, the rationale for the new section is to give time for the process of grading and reinitializing the system for the Configuration section. Remember in my earlier post, I said that the version 5.0 lab exam will be 100% virtual. With version 4.0 using virtual equipment for the Troubleshooting section and real devices for the Configuration one, they don’t need time between sections. Both can be initialized at the same time. But, in v5.0, both sections will be running off the same instance of IOL, so the topologies have to load their baseline to the desired section.
Plus, for the Troubleshooting section, configuration and other show command outputs must be collected and will be graded before the Configuration section is initialized.
The Diagnostic section is not like the open-ended questions of the past. It’s additional troubleshooting, of sorts. You will have to troubleshoot a number of incidents, but you’re not going to fix them and there is no terminal access. Rather, you’ll have to select from predefined options as to what the root cause of the issue is, where in the topology the issue is, or if you need more information to determine the root cause.
The format of the Diagnostic section is similar to the written test, with multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, or point-and-click scenario-driven questions. There is no written component to this section—just computer-based scenarios. The tickets are close-ended, so there IS a right answer. Unlike the open-ended questions that were more subjective, these tickets are deterministic. The topics covered in the Diagnostic section are the same as those in the rest of the exam—no new topics are added. You do have to pass the Diagnostic section, as well as the other two sections, to pass the lab exam and obtain your CCIE R&S certification.
The last date for CCIE R&S version 4.0 testing is June 3, 2014. CCIE R&S version 5.0 will go live on June 4, 2014.
Updated July 8, 2014: To reflect changes Cisco has made since this post was originally published, revised the reference to the requirement that tasks in the Troubleshooting section must be graded before the Configuration section can be initialized.