My VCAP5-DCA (VDCA550) Exam Experience

VCAP-DCAI would like to share my VCAP5-DCA experience as I learned lot of valuable things along the way that I think could help others in their preparation. I am not the first and will definitely not be the last to share VCAP Exam experience. I completed my VCP5 back in February 2012 on the last day before vSphere Install, Configure and Manage class was made mandatory to upgrade to VCP5. Since then I’ve been planning to write my DCA for a long time, due to various reason I couldn’t properly dedicate time and effort to prepare for the exam. Sadly there was a gap of 3 years between my VCP and VCAP success. :(

During a meet up with my Virtualization friends in Nov-2014, we had a discussion about VMware offering 50% discount on VCP and VCAP exam in APAC region and it was the right time to appear for the exam. Then I had to decide whether to go for 510 or 550? it was an interesting choice for me. Even though many had opted for 510, I wanted to give latest 550 a try and registered for the exam on 17-Dec-2014. I just had less than 4 weeks for my exam preparation and due to the lack of time, I couldn’t clear the exam first time around and scored 267 for a 300 pass mark to clear the certification. I was disappointed as it was my first certification I failed at the first go. This exam needs more dedication, practice and preparation.

I took the exam for the second time on 4-Feb-2015, having now known the exam question type, exam pressure I was better prepared for the exam. At least that’s what I thought, I spent more time on the questions and area I had issues at the first attempt. On the exam day to start of with I had issues logging in to my windows box to access exam lab and experienced occasional lag in the lab, nothing that I would like to flag as an issue. Did not experienced any issue during the first attempt, out of 23 questions I had about 10 left during the last 75 minutes.

I had no clue as to how did I end up at that position, time just page out during the DCA exam. I quickly attended the remaining questions and around 3 minutes mark before the closure I had completed 8 questions and I hit finish. It was a long 4 hour exam with out any break (break time at our own cost of time), I walked out of the exam center and eagerly waited for my results. Had lot of eager friends trying to reach me over WhatsApp, text message to check how the exam went for me, in just 15 mins after the exam I got the email from VMware in my inbox. The wait is over, checking the result sounded even more difficult that the actual exam and Wow I passed the exam, I was totally happy on successful completion of exam especially with my VCP expiration date on March-2015. Well that’s my exam experience and I hope you find it useful, I have to endorse what all DCA’s have highlighted “Time management is Key to pass VCAP5-DCA exam“. Try not to leave any question unattended. :)

Preparation Tips ?

1. Needless to say that you would need a lot of LAB TIME, grab your copy of blue print and work on each item listed in the objectives.
2. While there are loads of study material available, I would recommend Pluralsight’s (formerly Train-signal) VMware vSphere Optimize and Scale (VCAP-DCA) Jason Nash.
3. VCAP5-DCA Official Cert Guide: VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5- Data Center Administration – This book is official source from VMware and does a great job in covering the topic’s. Even if the book is mainly focused on the older VDCA510 exam, it also contains a chapter highlighting the changes in the blueprints between the 510 and 550 exams which was really helpful. The best part of the study guide is Chapter 10: Scenarios , where you get familiar with exam question patterns. If you can perform the task in chapter 10 couple of times without any assistance or referring any material, then you can confidently approach the exam.
4. Also highly recommend VCAP5-DCA exam VDCA550 study guide prepared by Paul Grevink.
5. http://www.virtuallanger.com/vcap-dca-5/
6. http://professionalvmware.com/2012/11/vcap5-dca-study-outline-pdf/ (Another great PDF guide and a CLI guide)

Exam tips?

1. Time management – As I mentioned earlier time management would be key, don’t write 1 – 23 and ticket on the completed ones, rather capture only the questions you plan to write later in scribble pad. Read the questions carefully so you don’t need to switch back and forth between the reading and lab session screen.
2. Practice all the question from VMware official guide covered under chapter 10.
3. Go through the CLI guide and practice all command lines.
4. Check Interactive Exam Simulation to get the understanding on how the actual exam feels like.

I have captured pretty much all the tips that I think I’ve used for my preparation and hope you find it useful. Good Luck with your DCA exam and hope you would comment. So What’s next? I am preparing for my VCAP5-DCD planning to appear for the exam during June 2015. I will sign off for now.

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