24 October, 2013

VCAP5 exam experiences

I have been looking into getting VCAP5-DCA and VCAP5-DCD certified for some time now, when I was making plans to attend VMworld 2013 in Barcelona those 2 came together. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to get some study time beside my work for a couple of weeks just before VMworld.
For the DCA exam I thought I did not have to study that much, so I just did some fleshing up on my vMA "skills" (don't use it regularly) and on configuring SATP rules by CLI.
On the other hand I did study a fair amount on the DCD exam as I knew it would be a real challenge.
I planned my DCA exam on Monday (Partner / TAM day) in the afternoon, because in the morning I was still travelling to Barcelona. And I planned my DCD exam on Tuesday morning, to be sure I could spend the rest of my time at VMworld attending sessions (and going to the various parties).
When I sat for my DCA exam I found it a very good exam, I would almost say I enjoyed taking it. I think that for enterprise admin's it is the same as it is within your comfort zone. Nevertheless it is a challenging exam where you are really tested for your hands-on knowledge. I did manage to complete all questions / tasks within the given time. I knew that I would not receive the results immediately after completing the last question it could take up to 15 days before you got the results back by email. But to my surprise VMware has recently changed this and they will get you the results within 8 hours ! As I did not know this I was surprised to find a email "Notice of VMware Technical Certification" the next morning and the best part I passed !
That day started very good, and with a boost in confidence I sat for my DCD exam. Now this is a whole different kind of exam, I didn't like it as much as the DCA exam for mainly 2 reasons. The first is that the design questions you get you need to do in a environment somewhat similar to MS Visio, but is feels like it is in Beta. It just isn't user friendly especially if you need to make modifications along the way, I was struggling more with the user interface as I was with the actual content of the question itself.
And the second reason for me is that a lot of questions have vague descriptions, I understand that when you are designing in real life there will also be points that are not really clear or vague but in this case you could ask to get clarification. This is not a option during the exam of course.
I have to say that the DCD exam is a difficult exam, in which time is your biggest enemy. It's just a huge amount of questions that you need to answer and the questions do cover every object in the blueprint !
When I got to the last question I had 5 minutes left, luckily I was able to answer within a blink of an eye. After answering the last question I had some exciting seconds before the results where shown, I passed this exam as well.
Needless to say that this has been the best VMworld ever for me !

Both exams are difficult and need some sort of exam strategy if you ask me, but both strategies are very different. If you are pursuing either or both of them, please take a look at my VCAP5-DCA and VCAP5-DCD study pages for useful links and tips.

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