VCAP5-DCD : a pass is a pass

So I sat the exam 5/6/15, for the 4th time I think. I tried once when the VCAP-DCD 4 came out in 2011, I tried once on ver 5.1 in 2012 and once with the latest 5.5 exam a the last VMworld (which ended in a crashed exam). Each time I got within 10 to 20 points from passing. Each time I took the exam it was years apart. I had schedule the exam maybe 3 other times, but had to cancel for various reasons. All of the material I know, I think for me personally I just had personal life events and tremendous workloads that got in the way of my focus to pass the exam. Each time I did not pass I took to the forums to rant about how oddly the questions were worded. I don’t think has changed. One thing I struggled with was figuring out the vision of the answers in the exam. From what I gather, a room full of VCDX’s came up with the questions. They structured these vague questions in a manner to where one (or some) of the answers are correct. I tried to vision what they may be looking for. Almost all of the questions seem debatable, which leaves room for mistakes if you don’t put on a VCDX hat.

I can’t say the exam is any easier, I just took my time studying over a few months. I am familiar with all of the terms, it was more like a review. There is no one source you can turn to that will help you pass the exam. The blueprint is a guide that will reference all types of documents. The VMware design workshop will not give you 100% of what you need to pass the exam either, but it will help if you are just getting stared with design. This is not an exam that you can just pick up a book and read. It will take some real world experience to conqueror this exam.

The things that helped me?

– Of course Jason Grierson’s exam engine over at http://www.virtualtiers.net. This will give you a great understanding of what VMware is looking for when you do the design questions. The site is still a work in progress, but you get the feel for the design and drag & drop questions. Read through his study guide at the end as well. There are some really good topics for the exam. Especially helpful is the NIOC exercise to help you structure host limits, adapter shares and share values. If you see this guy at VMworld, buy him a beer!

– I have Scott Lowe’s design 2nd edition book. That does help. It is a design book to get you thinking about VMware design in general. A lot of the exam topics are covered in the book, but it doesn’t give you an translation into how VMware will word the exam questions based on his material. It’s really up to you to pick out key terms.

– I listened to the vBrownBag VCAP-DCD podcasts every day on my way in to work. If you have time to kill on your commute, listen to them.

– The google+ community is a real help. Scroll through some of the material, you may find some golden nuggets in there.

– There is a set of great videos from Scott Lowe on Pluralsight that I have been watching. It is the Designing VMware Infrastructure course. It is from 2012, but it has the core parts of the DCD exam. I just wish there was a refreshed series that covered all of the products in the exam blueprint like VSA, VSAN, SRM, HeartBeat and others.

– I have my own set of links on my site also that I use.

Really, you have to find your favorite study guide that is out there. I have seen some that break down the blueprint into multiple links. I can’t tell you how many times I started to do that, but it gets so long.

I took the exam around 11AM. I was lucky and got a testing center that had the monitor facing a wall. I hate the exam centers where you have to see someone over your monitor or have distracting things all around you. I did all of the design questions first and marked all of the other for review. I was left with 80 minutes (I think) to go back and finish everything up. At the end I was left with 10 or 15 minutes. I went back to review some of the weirdest questions I had ever seen. I decided to stick with my answers and scored a 306. A pass, is a pass, is a pass.

So what now? Well, for starters I need to update all my email signatures. At some point this summer I will shot for the VCAP-DCA once ver 6 comes out. Will the certification mean more money in the role I am in? Probably not, but who knows what opportunities could be on the horizon.

 

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