My VCAP5-DCA Experience

Everyone does it right?  Spew out what they thought after writing the VCAP5-DCA exam.  Well, here I am again, being a follower :).

On December 19th, 2013 I made the 2.5 hour drive to Ottawa, Ontario to sit the VCAP5-DCA.  Honestly, the drive wasn't that bad!  We got a break in the snowfall and ice storm for a few days so I guess I scheduled it at the right time of year.  The only complaint I have is that I only passed a couple of Tim Horton's along the way, so the coffee intake was not the greatest – which is probably a saving grace in then end since there are no scheduled breaks during the exam to go to the bathroom.

I arrived at the Exam Centre roughly 45 minutes before my exam started.  I sat down in the food court of the building where the exam center was located, masked one more LUN and made my way up the elevator to sit my exam.  I walked into the Pearson testing Centre 30 minutes before my exam was scheduled to start, hoping to maybe get an early start.  That said, they cannot technically sit anyone any closer than 15 minutes from their start time, so I sat in a chair quietly staring at the floor for 15 minutes.

Ok, on to the exam itself.  Like everyone else has said the exam is fair.  Not once did I see it stray from the blueprint – which would be hard to do since the blueprint pretty much covers everything!  As far as the questions go all I can say is read them slowly.  I actually missed one task on the first question that I caught when I was reviewing a few things.  

I basically started at question 1 and worked my way straight through to the end.  Any question that I didn't finish or that I didn't feel like doing at that time I skipped and wrote down on my little magic erase board.  Let me tell you, when I got to question 26 I was a little worried as I had about 10 numbers written down on that board πŸ™‚  From there, I used the remaining time to go back through the questions and knock off the ones I skipped intentionally.  When they were done, I went on to the questions that I didn't quite understand that well and began working on them.  That's when my time ran out!!!  

Yes, time once again took it's toll on a VCAP test taker!  The 3.5 hours that they give you felt like 10 minutes to me.  I was working so hard and fast that I couldn't believe my eyes when the 5 minute warning came up.

As far as latency goes I only had one period of about 5 minutes where things were very slow to respond.  It didn't really play a factor in my not finishing the exam.  There were some other anomalies with my exam but I'll leave them to VMware's education support to look at!

I walked out of the room with an eery feeling – I knew I did well on most of the questions I finished, but I did leave a lot on the table.  I figured it could go either way!  And then, on January 3rd (which I thought was an impressive turn around for the holiday season) I got the email stating that I had passed with a score of 396!  Needless to say I was stoked!

So, as for tips there is nothing new that I can write down that isn't already written in the many VCAP experiences that are out there.  I'll outline a few that I thought were the most useful

  • Do the stuff that you know how to do first.  If you need to skip a question just scribble down the number and move on.  Time is of the essence, so don't sit around thinking about one given task too long.  Get done what you can!
  • Use the Adobe advanced find for the documents.  This will allow you to search all the documents at once!  Great time saver if you are looking for an advanced setting and you aren't sure what piece of documentation it is in.
  • Use the vSphere Client located on your FIRST screen!  DO NOT try and RDP into vCenter and use the client there – I did this for one question and it is deadly slow.
  • If you need to use a putty window and/or an RDP window just use it and leave it open.  Don't close it, you will just waste time trying to re-open it later.
  • Ugh, try and remember the administrator/root password.  They are all the same but given it's a new password it can be hard to type in multiple times!
  • The best tip I can give you is to know your stuff.  The more you know the easier this exam is.  The more you have done these things in a lab or in your day job it gets even easier.  You can use my 8 weeks of VCAP page (Big thanks to Tom Verhaeg for his help) to brush up on what I have done in the last 8 weeks.  The holy grail for the blueprint however, has to be Josh Coen and Jason Langers Unofficial VCAP5-DCA Study Guide!  Get it and print it and practice it!

That's about it for me with this one!  What's next?  Maybe DCD, but certainly a little family / down time is next in line!

  • Andy Konecny

    congrats Mike

    though it did rattle your English a bit.
    – While that eery feeling might have been NEW, I think you meant you KNEW you did well.
    – “or and” I am used to ‘and/or’ for that application in English (vs some programming languages πŸ˜‰

    • mwpreston

      Thanks Andy! I new you would double check my anglish πŸ™‚

      For real though, thanks for letting me know…

  • Tet Kyaw

    Congrats Mike. Thanks for this write up. I am sitting an exam tomorrow. Feeling a bit nervous now.

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