My First (and very positive) VCAP-DCA Experience
After wanting to schedule and take the VCAP exam for years, it’s finally done…and it was good.
As most others who have written a post-exam article state, it seems everyone has a VCAP-DCA/DCD experience post. That being said, it’s what helped me the most in regards to what to expect for the exam. Items such as time management, exam strategies, and actually utilizing the almost-never-used whiteboard were as valuable as studying the material itself. Although the pertinent exam information can be found it multiple places and different ways, my personal successful outcome came down to sheer practice.
As you know, the VCAP-DCA exam is purely lab based – which is really breath of fresh air when it comes to certifications. There are no A, B, C, or D options to choose from here, only a fully built lab to do the work and prove your skill set. You don’t just tell them how good you are…. you show them!
Thoughts on the Exam: As the title reads, I was extremely happy with the exam, regardless of what the outcome was (of course I was even happier when receiving a passing score). As others have stated, it’s a fun exam. Being able to create, migrate, and fix the infrastructure was entertaining for an exam. The 3.5 hours just melted away as I completed each question and moved on to the next, making it the fastest 3.5 hours ever.
The only negative things I have to say about the exam are that the environment was a bit tricky to get used to at first and I probably wasted a good 10 minutes getting my feet wet. It also seemed like DNS wasn’t fully configured – not sure if that was intentional or not. I could hit the vCenter server via name using the vSphere client, however I couldn’t Putty to the servers by name. Knowing about the previous performance issues, I kept open applications to a minimum where possible and did experience a slight performance degradation when I had too many windows open. Overall, performance wasn’t an issue for me as others had stated and switching back and forth between the written exam and lab environment was instantaneous the entire exam.
Preparation: I knew, from reading other blog posts, that time was a major factor in this test and I took it to heart. I built a lab at work with two HP DL385 G6 servers and a Synology DS412+. This lab environment gave me the ability to test almost everything within the lab environment without worrying if anything broke. Utilizing the VCSA gave me almost all the necessary services to test with and I supplemented anything else with “View Only” research in our production environment. My biggest recommendation for this exam still stands with this tweet I sent out:
Social media (mainly Twitter) was a priceless tool in finding helpful information from test takers to the exam authors themselves. Twitter is huge in VMware community and has helped me tremendously in all aspects of VMware administration and design. In addition to the online material, I used a few books, including the VCAP-DCA – Official Cert Guide written by John Davis and Steve Baca. Although the book is very well written, the greatest benefit I got from it were the 86 exam scenarios it provides (26 in the book, 60 online). Honestly, I don’t think I would have come out with a passing score if it weren’t for these practice scenarios.
Joshua Andrews (@SOSTech_WP) has a great list of links to study materials, community-driven breakdowns, and exam experience posts from other vBloggers. He’s got a ton of stuff linked out for you there specifically for the DCA exam. I got some nice tips from his blog as well so be sure to check out existing material (like this) and keep an eye on any updates.
Other materials I used include the vBrownBag podcasts for my commute to and from work (Nick Marshall has organized by Objective on his site) and the Unofficial Official VCAP-DCA Study Guide by Jason Langer and Josh Coen.