Two days ago I sat for the VCAP5-DCD exam and I’m happy to say that I passed it finally! I’m not going to write about all the details, about the number of questions or the time you have to complete the exam because there already are some good blogs about it and you can find all the info in the exam blueprint. Instead, I’ll try to give you some useful tips on how to prepare and pass the exam.
To be honest, you can’t really prepare for this exam. There are of course some easy multiple choice questions but a lot of them are scenario based and you’ll need some good understanding of the situation or preferably hands-on design experience to find the correct answer. Which brings me to tip number one.
Tip #1: Make sure you designed a vSphere environment at least once.
But what if you did not have a chance to design a vSphere environment? Well, there are some options.
- Attend the VMware vSphere Design Workshop course
- If you are VMware Partner, download and study the vSphere 5 Plan and Deploy kit from Partner Central
- Participate in the design practice which @GreggRobertson5 started lately
Next, make sure you know all the objectives in the blueprint. It is your number one guide to pass the exam. Read all PDFs and documents mentioned there and make notes of things you don’t know. Pay special attention to the features, requirements and limitations of all of the vSphere 5 components but also aspects of back-up and disaster recovery. Know all VMware best practices including vCenter Server, storage, networking etc.
Tip #2: Study the blueprint and make sure you have red all the PDFs mentioned there.
If you have difficulties understanding some of the concepts or there are some things not clear to you, form a study group. Discuss it with the group and try to find the right answer or justification. It is a lot easier to study for the exam in a group and it brings a certain amount of motivation for yourself with it.
Tip #3: Form a study group
I haven’t used a lot of study materials to prepare for the exam but there are some that are worth a mention.
- HA/DRS bible from Duncan & Frank
- Storage Implementation in vSphere 5.0 by Mostafa Khalil
Taking the exam
Make sure you arrive early at the exam center so you have enough time to complete the registration procedure.
Tip #4: Visit the bathroom before the exam.
Tip #5: Don’t drink too much before the exam or you’ll be forced to take a break.
Tip #6: Eat something before the exam, you will be in the exam room for more than 4 hours and you’ll need your energy. I always eat a large snickers bar before any exam.
Tip #7: Read the questions carefully and try to understand what is being asked. In the large scenario questions I found that some portions of the text are not quite relevant to the answer.
Tip #8: If you get these large scenario questions, read the question first and then try to find the answer in the text.
The exam is hard, really hard. One of the hardest I ever took in my life. Reminds me of the old Microsoft MCSE+S or MCSE+M exams but with the right materials and proper study you should be able to pass it. Don’t be afraid to fail. I failed two times and passed on the third attempt. If you don’t pass, see it as a learning curve and not as a failure. Try to find out where you went wrong, study again, discuss the possibilities with your group and schedule the exam for new attempt.