Exam Review: CCIE Service Provider Written 400-201 CCIE SP

Another day, more fun with a CCIE Written Exam! Please note that I am writing this review on 11/7/2015, so please consider that if you are reading this post considerably after that date. Cisco has a tendency to change exam details and content periodically. Your mileage may vary 🙂


You are given 120 minutes for this exam and you can expect about 100 questions. You will have plenty of time to finish if you know your stuff. There are no sims or simlets of any kind to slow you down. There are drag and drop, but of course these should not slow you down too much. There are lots of complex exhibits you will be wading through, but time should not be a problem since most questions are short multiple choice.

You can expect a required passing score of about 820.

Your score report, pass or fail, will show your performance in the following five areas:

  • SP Architecture and Evolution
  • Core Routing
  • Service Provider Based Services
  • Access and Aggregation
  • High Availability and Fast Convergence
  • SP Security, SP Operation, and Management

This exam follows the blueprint nicely, but keep in mind that you will be studying A LOT on a bullet point in order to be ready. For example, take the blueprint item:

  • 5.3.a Describe, implement, and optimize IGP convergence

Think about – you need to study the optimization here for IS-IS, EIGRP, and OSPF. That adds up to an awful lot of studying.

Here are some areas to really focus on:

  • L2TPv3
  • IOS-XR
  • Router virtualization (SVR, HVR, SDR, CSR1000V, etc.)
  • IGPs, BGP, Multicast, QoS, MPLS l3 VPNs, MPLS Traffic Engineering
  • E-Line
  • Unified MPLS
  • IPv6
  • Security
  • Network Management
  • SyncE

Exam Accuracy and Blueprint Adherance: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Exam Difficulty: 4 out of 5 stars

Time Pressure: Low

Have fun studying these super important, and super interesting topics! If you have any questions, of course let me know in the comments section below!

11 thoughts on “Exam Review: CCIE Service Provider Written 400-201 CCIE SP

  1. Hi,

    I am looking for materials and how to start with???

    Since CCNP has books and can start reading directly…..
    But CCIE written paper little tricky.. Can you just help about how many books we need to collect before start prepare??


    1. I think you should start with the latest editions of Routing TCP/IP Volumes 1 and 2. These books are simply incredible.

  2. Hi !

    I am starting runing Virl but i dont get external Telnet to work. I have seen your solution but does not work. I dont get the button apply. putty is in the folder putty so

    Telnet command “C:/putty/putty.exe”
    Telnet arguments -telnet %h %p and the same for ssh
    but it doesnt work…do you have any solution

    1. You can post up at the VIRL support forum – you can access it from the link at the top of virl.cisco.com. Remember, you can also just enter the address and port of your virtual device in your favorite emulator and get to it that way.

  3. Hi Anthony,

    Is there a unified book recommended for CCIE SP WR exam and IF not can you please share how did you study all topics in blueprint ?

    Thank You
    Mohamed Ibrahim

    1. I used the Cisco documentation and a ton of Google Searching. I just assumed there was no book out there… 🙁 I also used Safari Books Online so that I could access sections of many different texts.

  4. Hello Anthony,

    Do you have an extended version of the blueprint you used to prepare yourself for the exam and also a study plan to share with us?


    Renato Reis

    1. I just went super carefully through their blueprint and used Internet and Safari Books Online Resources. I passed it on my second attempt.

  5. Hey Anthony .. How are you ? I am stuck at BGP SOO (site of origin) Can you please briefly explain why & when to use it ,also how to configure it ? preferably with example please Thanks in advance

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