I hope this helps anyone preparing for their VCAP5-DCA or VCAP6-DCV Deploy exam.
I initially started by going through this guide written by Paul Grevink, working through examples in my lab environment. I’m lucky in that regard as we have a Demo Lab where we get customers in and demonstrate the technology. I look after the lab myself, so I took the opportunity to make sure there weren’t any demo’s coming up and started practicing.
I made sure I had the exam blueprint sitting next to me the whole time and made notes on it as I went along.
After around 3 weeks of solid studying (taking time out between consulting and installs) I found out you can actually take a mock exam called “Test Track” produced by JoshuaAndrewsVM (just follow him on Twitter and send him a DM asking for a slot). It’s honestly mindblowing that this is even offered, Joshua is truly a legend – HUGE THANKS!
I went through the lab once, got used to the environment (as it’s as close to the real thing as possible) and the style of working. After a week, I did it again. You can actually mark yourself on the questions with the help of some very clever PowerShell scripts that are described in the link above.
I have to say that my biggest weakness is PowerShell. I simply don’t have the kind of brain that enjoys reading or writing scripts or code. Don’t get me wrong, I can process it, understand it and write it, but I don’t enjoy using it as part of my day-to-day job. Knowing this, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to change this part of myself just for this exam and had to focus on the other things that I’m able to do (and make sure I do them well).
I made sure I was able to do every task from the guide and blueprint, and if my lab wouldn’t accommodate it, I made sure I had at least watched videos or read about how to do it (example – NPIV – I didn’t have FC switches to play with in the lab so I couldn’t map a raw lun to a VM and mask it from other VMs using NPIV – I only knew and understood the theory behind it and why you might want to do it).
As far as CLI goes, there’s very few tasks you can do using CLI exclusively. Naturally, I made sure I knew those tasks and practiced them over and over until I could do them without looking at an example. I made sure I knew exactly where the commands were referenced in pub.vmware.com and kb.vmware.com in case I ran into trouble (these are provided during the exam).
A few days before the exam, I bought myself a copy of the official cert guide so that I could go through the example questions from it. Although the book states on the cover it will help prepare you for the DCA550, there’s not a single mention of the web client in the book. You’ll need to rely on Paul Grevink’s guide for this.
Well, the day had arrived. I had a 85 mile drive to the center and my exam was scheduled for 12pm. I got there for about 9.45am, went to a supermarket nearby to grab some food and water, and a coffee, and sat in the back of the car doing last minute reading. While sitting there I realised that there was no point in this, and put the book away and just enjoyed the coffee. I went to the center early and was allowed to start early, so I did.
The usual – two forms of ID (one photographic), no personal items allowed in the exam etc., no food or drink.
During the initial 10 minute survey, I made sure I wrote down two columns on the sheet – Completed and Not Completed. Along the side of the column I made space for a brief description of the question.
I got up to about question 10, and had realised I had completed most of them fully. I realised I had already used nearly half the time! It’s unreal how quickly time goes during this exam. I got to the end of the exam, and had fully completed maybe 11 or 12 questions out of 23. So there was 11 or 12 questions I hadn’t even touched yet.
I went back to the first question that I hadn’t attempted, and managed to complete most of it. I marked it as “Partial” in the completed column. I managed to work my way through most of the questions I hadn’t touched and at the end of the exam realised there were still a good 3 or 4 questions I hadn’t touched at all with about 3 minutes left on the clock.
I clicked the finish button, convinced I hadn’t done enough to pass the exam.
I got into the car, checked my phone for the email but it wasn’t there. I left the center. Maybe after 45 minutes of racking my brain trying to work out whether I had passed or not, I got the email from VMware. I pulled over into the first services I found and read the email, no test score or indication of whether I had passed or not, but there was a .pdf attached.
I opened the .pdf and saw “Pass Score: 300 Your Score: 334 Result: PASS … Congratulations on passing…”
My voice was gone from the screaming by the time I got home.
Now, I still have a long way to go on the journey to VCDX, but I’m loving every step of it.
I hope this helps anyone considering doing the exam – I highly recommend it!