The approach that I like to take for studying usually starts off with research on the certification and involves reading reviews from people who have successfully completed the certification. This process includes learning what books, CBT training, study guides and other resources that they found valuable during their studies. One of my favorite communities for gathering this valuable information is TechExams.net where there is incredibly talented and smart people that share their experiences.
After completing my VCP5-DCV in Fall of 2013, I already knew that the VCAP5-DCV would be in my future since the VCP credential needs to be renewed every 2 years and the VCAP5-DCA does not. During the next year and half I assembled a very nice home lab (which will be the subject of a large future post) and gathered certification resources.
Summer 2015 – It begins!
I like to start off my certification studies by watching CBT videos as an introduction to the subject matter since they are usually put together by instructors with the purpose of helping you pass the certification. For the VCAP5-DCA I used Pluralsight’s VMware vSphere Optimize & Scale 3 part series by Jason Nash and the vBrownBag VCAP-DCA series posted on Nick Marshall’s website. WARNING! Both of those resources cover the VCAP 5.0 objectives which are different than the current 5.5 objectives but those resources are still very relevant.
In fact, one of the first things you should do is download VMware’s exam blueprint for the version of the VCAP which you plan to take. The blueprint contains many valuable things like the exact exam objectives or areas that you will be tested on and links to all of the vSphere 5.5 documentation that you will have available during the exam. I highly suggest you download all of the PDFs and AT LEAST be familiar with the content contained in each of them.
Lab! Lab! Lab!
Did I mention you should do labs? This is a lab based exam (there are no multiple choice questions) and your biggest constraint will be time. Personally, if I had all day this would be one of the easiest exams I’ve take but you only get 3 hours to complete 23 multi-step questions which makes it one of the hardest. How do you deal with an exam where your biggest constraint is time? You need to familiarize yourself with the objectives that you will be tested on and gain experience through labs which will make you quicker when you see those types of questions on the exam.
For the lab resources I purchased the VCAP5-DCA Official Cert Guide Premium Edition which contains a third set of 34 scenarios that cover the 5.5 objectives – compared to the first two sets of 26 questions that cover the 5.0 objectives with the Standard Edition. I have also heard good things about Joshua Andrew’s VCAP5-DCA Practice environment although I did not use it.
I felt pretty confident and well prepared going into the exam on a Friday afternoon. Unfortunately there isn’t much I can say about the actual exam itself other than it was a very fair exam and also the fastest 3 hours of my life! I ended up using all of my time and at least making an attempt on all of the questions. That night I received an email that I passed with a score of 325. Overall it was a very fun and challenging experience leaving me wanting to take more lab based exams.