CCIE Security Lab Exam: An Overview

The CCIE Security lab exam is designed to test candidates on their practical knowledge and troubleshooting skills at expert-level. As the name suggests, this particular track specialization covers network security on various subjects such as IOS, IDS, and ASA among others. During the lab exam, candidates are given eight hours to go through each scenario where particular specifications are given and they must be able to configure secure networks to meet these specifications. Like with the other tracks in Cisco’s CCIE family of certifications, a candidate needs to earn at least 80% of the total number of points given for this examination in order to pass.

Preparing for the CCIE Security Lab Exam


Preparing for this particular exam requires a lot of time and money. The standards and blueprints of the CCIE Security lab exam are regularly updated, so it’s not a good idea to rely on hand-me-down learning materials. Up-to-date workbooks and practice labs are easily available if you know where to look. Signing up for CCIE boot camps and other training options offered by reputable training vendors is always a wise idea. It may not come cheap, but it is worth it once you are able to pass for the certification. Self-study is also a good option. Learning materials and workbooks can be purchased on their own and one can also build a home rack or rent a professional rack in order to be able to get some hands-on practice to prepare for the actual lab exam.


Most candidates log a minimum of 1,000 hours of lab time in order to prepare for the exam. This number can rise or fall depending on the candidate’s existing practical knowledge. There are several topics covered in the exam and each topic has a long list of sub-topics that a candidate needs to learn for the exam. What makes the CCIE Security lab exam extra difficult, is that the candidate does not know what topic he or she will be given until the day of the exam. This is why it’s important to understand all the concepts covered by the exam, and being able to log more than enough lab hours makes it possible to learn and practice how to perform these tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Taking the Test


The lab exam is the 2nd part of a 2-part test. While the written exam is important, candidates pay more attention to the lab exam because this is where majority of the candidates fail. In fact, a lot of candidates don’t pass until their 3rd or 4th try. The lab exam lasts for eight hours excluding the one hour lunch break. There are proctors present to observe and award points for each task. The on-site proctors evaluate the candidate’s performance, but the final evaluation is done by a trained proctor who determines whether or not the configurations made by the candidate are correct. The results are released 48 hours after the exam and are available online.


The CCIE tests candidates at expert-level which makes a certification in any one of the 8 CCIE tracks a most coveted achievement. Preparing for the CCIE Security lab exam can be a grueling experience, but passing the test is well worth the sacrifice.


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