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June, 2011

Another Thing Off the List… VCAP-DCD Done.

A while back I was invited to take the VCAP-DCD Beta exam and just wasn’t in the mood at the time to take a beta exam and then wait for my score.  I’m very impatient.  I hate taking a test and not knowing if I passed when I walk out.  But…the VCAP-DCD has been out for a little while now so I figured I’d go take it.   There are some good posts on other’s experiences too, such as:

There are a lot of overviews and study recommendations out there.  My experience wasn’t too different from their’s.  Few things about the exam.  First, it’s long.  113 questions is a lot.  I just don’t have the attention span for a test like this.  By question 30 on most exams I’m looking around, staring off in to space, seeing who else is taking a test…etc.  113 questions and like 4 hours isn’t fun.  It took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to finish the exam which I think is the longest I’ve ever sat for an certification test.  I’m firmly in the “You either know it or you don’t” camp but this exam is different.

It has to be really hard to write an exam like this.   Since the test is around designing virtual infrastructure the questions can’t be too specific, technical, and straight to the point which means they are longer, more involved, and require more thought.  Therefore the average time to answer a question is longer.  If you usually take a lot of time to sit an exam you’ll need to keep an eye on the clock and use your time wisely.  That’s not always easy as several of the questions are Visio-like diagram questions.  If you haven’t seen this go hit the sample exam on VMware’s site and take a look at the demo.  While fairly straight forward they do take a good bit longer than normal questions.  There is also a good mix of multiple choice, choose two/three/all, and drag and drop to go along with the diagram questions.

The diagram questions are a great change of pace from the usual exam question.  I’d really love to know how they grade those as there can be multiple ways (at least in my opinion….) to answer some of them.  Do they make sure you meet the minimum requirements and then sanity check the rest?  Look for a specific answer?  No one knows…but I’m curious.

So…what should you use to study?  I have no idea.   Real helpful, huh?  The exam blueprint covers everything but it’s a big list.  But…if your eventual goal is to go for your VCDX then you should be reading everything on that blueprint list anyway so you might as well start now.  The night before my exam I flipped through the vSphere Design class books and while they aren’t a direct match for the exam it’s a good start…again, especially if VCDX defense is in your future.  The class is a great way to make sure you know and use the same terminology VMware does and gives you their design thought process.  The DCD exam is wide ranging.  If you’re a vSphere-only type person and light on storage or networking you’ll need to brush up and get a solid understanding of all areas.  Remember, it’s a design exam not an administration exam.  Also, it really does help to have gone through some consolidation and migration projects.

As I said earlier a nice thing is that you get your score immediately so you know right away, pass or fail.  I passed (yay!) which means I’m now a VCDX4.  Hopefully I’ll have a while before I need to take another to be a VCDX5.  When you work for a partner there are just too many exams these days…  Good luck!


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