On October 12th I sat the VDCA510 exam to see if I had what it took to become a VMware Certified Advanced Professional in Datacenter Administration (VCAP5-DCA), 8 business days later I received notification that I had successfully passed! It was a definitely a breath of fresh air (the one I took after holding my breath for 13 straight days).
Thoughts on the exam
I won’t go through what is on the exam or the format in this post; you can find that here. The exam was definitely challenging. I did have enough time to go through every question, however there was one question I was unable to answer (well, technically 2, see more below). The 1 question I couldn’t answer I actually did figure out, but by the time I did all the work I realized I missed a key step that required me to start all over, and that I did not have time for. I felt all the questions were fair, and if you studied the blueprint, and I mean studied it well, you should be able to work your way through each one.
I did have an issue with one question. Now, because of NDA I can’t go into what the question was, but I can talk around it enough so you get the idea. The question asked me to perform a task (I know, like all other questions) and I knew exactly how to perform the task. I thought to myself "this one won’t take long at all”…only it was physically impossible for me to answer the question. The tasks I needed to perform required that certain software be installed, but as you probably already guessed, the software was not installed. No other question had you install said software, and the binaries did not exist in the environment for me to install it. I notified PearsonVue and wrote up what happened. The staff at the testing center then sent in an incident report. I followed it up with the VMware Certification team with a couple different emails. I did finally get a response from Randy, but he just let me know that I passed. At that point it the question didn’t matter, but I’m still curious on whether it was thrown out or what the deal with it was.
I have never spent more time preparing for a certification exam, EVER. If there is one thing you take from this post, build a home lab. I don’t care if you do this stuff on a daily basis, you need a home lab, or some for of sandbox to go through the blueprint sections/objectives. You can read and watch videos and memorize all of the documents, but I don’t see how you pass without the hands-on; the entire test is hands-on! I spent the two weeks before the exam studying a couple of hours every night, and even more on the weekends. Leading up to that, I spent the better part of 4 months breaking down and documenting the blueprint objectives (along with Jason Langer); this was EXTREMELY helpful for me.
Exam Preparation Resources
Mine and Jason Langer’s VDCA510 Blueprint Breakdowns
- My VCAP5-DCA page: http://www.valcolabs.com/vcap5-dca/
- Jason’s VCAP5-DCA page: http://www.virtuallanger.com/vcap-dca-5/
Ethan Rowe has done a similar breakdown over @ thefoglite.com, and it is excellent!
Gregg Robertson’s has a great list of resources as well, which can be found here
The U.S.vBrownBags have a lot of great content on all the VCAP-DCA objectives
- Episodes on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/professionalvmware-vbrownbag/id468638808
- Website: http://professionalvmware.com/brownbags/
Chris Wahl has a study sheet that can help you stay organized by keeping track of all your preparation tasks
Last, but not least, the all powerful Trainsignal have some videos that can assist in your preparation
- vSphere Advanced Network Training by Jason Nash: http://www.trainsignal.com/vSphere-Advanced-Networking-Training.aspx
- VMware vSphere PowerCLI Training by Hal Rottenberg: http://www.trainsignal.com/VMware-vSphere-PowerCLI-Training.aspx
- VMware vSphere Troubleshooting Training by David Davis: http://www.trainsignal.com/VMware-vSphere-Troubleshooting-Training.aspx
- VMware vSphere Performance Monitoring Training by David Davis: http://www.trainsignal.com/VMware-vSphere-Performance-Monitoring-Training.aspx
I did get my score report back yesterday, and to be transparent, I received a score of 344 (passing is 300). While I was definitely please that I passed, I wasn’t super excited about the score. Now I don’t know if the one question I mentioned above have an effect on the score (+/- ). If I could change one things is I would have, instead of spending 2 weeks before the exam hardcore studying, spent 3-4 weeks.
If you are just starting out studying for the exam, get to work! If you are getting ready to sit the exam, good luck!