This is was my second attempt to pass a VCAP-DCD exam and this time with success. After my first experience in Barcelona where I failed, this time I passed. I traveled with my spouse to sunny Lisbon. You might ask why Lisbon? The flight with EasyJet was cheap and we will take week of vacations here. Me and my spouse. The two VCAP exams were booked with 50% discount which I got when I was at Barcelona. So the plan was that the first two days I do my VCAP's and then the rest of the week some sightseeing. So after first day : VCAP-DCD passed !
The day started rather a bad way. In the morning before to go to the test center I had kind of a migraine. To keep my eyes open was painful. The pre-exam stress was there as well… you know. Then at the test center they put me in front a computer, and I was facing the sun as the light curtain on the windows did not cover enough….
After asking to change a PC, the problems started. Twice, right before I could hit the first question there was a problem with the exam system. After several phone calls to the exam center at Pearson, the local test center staff could finally restart again the exam(for the 3rd time!) I could move forward.
I wasn't stressing much, actually less than during my previous attempt as I knew what to expect, this time. My strategy was different as I knew that my concentration should go to the design questions which weights up to 50 points each. The multiple or single radio button question weighs only 8 points, and the drag and drop questions a bit more…
During my preparation I was watching latest two vBrownbags with John Arrasjid, Linus Bourque and Jon Hall. They discussed the different VCAP exams in details and explained how the questions are noted. A partial credit for the design questions is key element to take into account! So even if you don't do the whole design, just placing elements and connecting them together can earn you some precious points…
When I came to a question(s) which I haven't got a clue on what to answer, I did not stay there and think of a possible solution, but instead, I choose a random answer, to move forward. Not to lose much time. I think that during my first attempt I just lost it there as at final I skipped one whole design question …
The questions were flowing better this time, together with the designs, which I managed to create somehow better way and I was more satisfied with the results. Last time when I tried to move a piece, it broke the whole creation. Twice! I avoided doing the same thing during my second attempt!
The drag and drop questions also were more clear this time as I remembered some of those from my first attempt as well. Finally, take the exam twice is not a bad thing if you thinking of exam as a learning experience ! If you fail, you fail. But what's the learning experience?
While I can't unveil what's in the exam, I can point out few resources I've used for my second attempt:
- It definitely helped me to go through (once again) the VCAP official certification guide by Paul McSharry. The book do has a test software which you can install and train yourself for questions. I went through the mock exam 5-6 times during my preparation, to get the right terminology for the exam.
- As I prepared at the same time for a VCAP5-DCA, I used Jason Nash's courses for VCAP5-DCA…. as you need to know the insight out of vSphere anyway. (but if you don't do VCAP-DCA the next day, avoid that as the DCA has only the technical stuff in it…). But I can only highly recommend that training for DCA!
- I went through Scott Lowe's training for VCAP5-DCD as well, and learned further about the design process.
- A lot of good stuff by @GreggRobertson5 an other bloggers too, it's just too many to mention here without forgetting someone.
- I watched 4-5 times again the demo of the design tool (you can find it on the VMware VCAP5-DCD space there), to see if I overlooked something the first time. You'll find the exact design tool during the exam!
- I went through best practices on storage and networking for vSphere 5. It's an important piece to memorize, not only for the design exam, but also for the DCA.
You can expect a mix of designs question, drag and drop question, multiple answer and single answer questions. The multiple answer questions won't let you go further if you don't answer exact number of answers. Plus each of those questions it says that you must check 2 or 3 answers. I got more design questions in the first part of the exam, and two of those were right one after another. I definitely prefered, even if there were still no possibility to mark question and pass on next one (according to the vBrownbag sessions, the plan is to put this back to the exam in a few weeks).
It was my most difficult exam so far… and it was a PASS. Not strong score, but pass is a pass. My next one is the VCAP5-DCA…. but that's another story…