My VCAP5-DCA Experience

I just found out that I’ve passed the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Datacenter Administration exam and wanted to share my experience.

When I first set out to take on this exam, I was apprehensive about it because of the number of possible questions that could be asked on it.  The blueprint was quite large and covered basically everything related to vSphere.  I got some helpful advice from a friend who told me that instead of worrying about if I could pass the exam, think about it like vSphere Olympics.  It’s a chance to show off how much you know.  It was a subtle change, but a different mindset really helped me.

The exam is different from most of the multiple choice, drag and drop, choose the correct answer exams that I’ve been accustomed to scheduling.  This is a live lab setup so that question 1 requires configurations to an actual vSphere environment and question 2 may be impacted by how you answer question 1.  I must mention, that it is possible to break the lab environment so that you can’t perform certain tasks later on in the test.  I made a mistake during my exam and thought that it would surely cost me a second try, but was able to score enough points anyway.

One of the other parts that I really liked about this exam format was that the official VMware documentation is available to be referenced during the test.  I’ve often thought that most certifications test how much you can memorize and those questions don’t really test a real world scenario.  Many times, if I know where to look up the information, I don’t bother memorizing it.  The exam doesn’t allow for much time for each question however so you won’t be able to reference the documentation very often and still have time to answer the questions.  It is nice to have it there in case you get stuck though.

Study Hard

I used a variety of study guides when preparing for this test.  Chris Wahl has an excellent checklist to use to organize your thoughts and determine your weak areas.  http://wahlnetwork.com/2012/07/02/the-vcap5-dca-study-sheet/

Patrick Kremer and Tim Antonowicz have some excellent suggestions on how to attack the questions.  Things like number all the questions and categorizing them so that you can get the maximum amount of points.  Tim Antonowicz’s blog – http://whiteboardninja.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/vcap5-dca-testing-strategy-and-tips/ and Patrick Kremer’s blog http://www.patrickkremer.com/?p=565

The guys over at the vBrownbag have provided some really great content for the VCAP5-DCA.  I referenced several of the brownbags when I was unsure about content.  This might be a great place to start studying each section.  I also recommend checking out the brownbags on Wednesday nights.

Lastly I’ll mention that having a lab to test different scenarios in is a must.  This exam requires a good deal of real world or at least lab experience to do well on.  Just having book knowledge will likely mean that it will take you too long to accomplish the goals of each question.  If you are looking for a fairly cheap way to build a lab, check out the post on my home lab.

Good Luck to you!

I really recommend trying this exam.  The real world scenarios are very useful to a VMware administrator, and the knowledge that you gain while preparing to take the exam will undoubtedly make you a better technician.  To me certifications are part of the job and a way to prove you know what you’re talking about, and at the same time studying for these exams helps to increase the depth of your knowledge.

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