Exam Review: 400-101 CCIE Routing and Switching



This exam has been one of the most talked about (bitched about) exams for a while now as it was declared to be riddled with errors and generally NOT passable. The great news is, based on my experience today – this has changed!

Exam Homepage

Have some patience and explore the many valuable links and resources awaiting you from the exam homepage below. You need patience because some of them can be a bit hidden across several different websites. But this starting point is still a great one.

400-101 CCIE Routing and Switching

The 400-101 Exam

You can expect 100 questions on this 400-101 exam with a passing score of about 804. You have 120 minutes for the exam. Time pressure is NOT an issue. I say this even as a very fast test taker and an author of a text on how to pass.

The exam breaks down accurately into the following sections. Notice the percentage breakdown of the number of questions you will face! This seemed very accurate per my experience with the actual exam.

  • 1.0 Network Principles 10%
  • 2.0 Layer 2 Technologies 13%
  • 3.0 Layer 3 Technologies 37%
  • 4.0 VPN Technologies 13%
  • 5.0 Infrastructure Security 5%
  • 6.0 Infrastructure Services 12%
  • 7.0 Evolving Technologies 10%

So the 400-101 exam is biased toward L3? YES! Sorry for all of you that were excited about Evolving Technologies!  Here are the topics in that L3 domain if you want to start your studying right away in the most important area:

  • 3.1 Addressing technologies
  • 3.2 Layer 3 multicast
  • 3.3 Fundamental routing concepts
  • 3.4 RIP [v2 and v6]
  • 3.5 EIGRP [for IPv4 and IPv6]
  • 3.6 OSPF [v2 and v3]
  • 3.7 BGP
  • 3.8 ISIS [for IPv4 and IPv6]

Know these – and know them well. I can confirm plenty of questions from each subdomain were there! Also, be sure to remember new features in addition to “classic” capabilities.

Question Types

What types of questions can you expect? Here they are:

  • Simple multiple choice – this is the most common question type you face
  • Multiple correct – multiple choice – you will not face any “Choose all that apply”; you will always be told exactly how many are correct
  • Drag and drop – I love these!

Exam Mechanics

Here are some important things to know about how the exam functions:

  • There is a countdown timer in the top right corner! Keep an eye on it! While I do not think time will be an issue, be aware of how many questions remain, and how much time you have left.
  • There is no ability to go back. Once you click next to answering your question – THAT IS IT!
  • There is no review of your answers possible at the end of the test.
  • There is a comment button if you want to send Cisco a nasty note about the question. 🙂

Various Thoughts

Here are tips and various thoughts I have for you on this exam:

  • For each section of the exam blueprint, I am making free study resource links available for you. For example – see here: IOS XE These really should be all you need to pass, especially if you are recertifying as an existing CCIE in R&S!
  • Resist the temptation to do most of your studying in the blueprint areas you are already well versed on! Attack those areas OUTSIDE of your comfort zone. For me, these were:
    • Implement and troubleshoot PPP
    • Describe WAN rate-based ethernet circuits
    • Tunneling
    • Encryption
    • Describe 802.1x
    • Network services
    • Internet of Things
  • Be ready to be a bit off balance with the level of difficulty variation in questions. For example, you might get two that are CCNA level on STP, but then get one straight out of the documentation that really makes you think and think hard!
  • Some of the more difficult questions are actually easier than you think if you really read carefully and examine the exhibits closely.
  • I found no errors or grammatical mistakes or technical errors in the exam. If those did exist for this exam as reported, they have been cleaned up.
  • Enjoy the study for this exam and the experience! Outside of the $450, I really did love refreshing on these technologies as I prepared.

I am sure you have questions for me if you are still reading at this point. Hit me with those in the comments area below! Thanks!

8 thoughts on “Exam Review: 400-101 CCIE Routing and Switching

  1. The CCIE R&S Written I took in mid-2016 was the worst test I had ever seen. Terrible questions, spelling, grammar, etc. Even though I passed it (after the second try–I had never failed an exam before this), it was so awful, it convinced me that getting the CCIE wasn’t worth it if I were faced with taking it every two years. Your experience gives me some hope, but I am pretty burned out!

    1. Get back on the horse! 🙂 For my CCIE R&S it was 2 tries at the written and 5 tries at the lab. I quit several times, but in the end, never gave up. So glad I did not! Let me know how I can help.

      1. I’ve followed you for quite some time. To hear you mention that you took 5 “swings” at the lab before you got a hit is very motivating for me – as crazy as that may sound. Thanks for sharing your testing experience. By the way, I really enjoyed the Network+ training you just completed for the CompTIA Train-the-Trainer sessions.

          1. In addition to my colleague T. Chandler your video material on CCNA Data Center is impressive, I just passed my AWS Cloud Practitioner based off your videos at CBT and some whitepapers, I would say the AWS Practice Exams gives you false courage you are ready the exam is much more challenging..as I always say a pass is a pass LOL

  2. I had no idea you had to retake the lab. Looking back, what do you think was your biggest hindrance in passing?

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