VCAP6-DCV Deployment Exam Experience

The VCAP6-DCV Deployment exam has been on my radar for a while and I registered for the exam to coincide with what I thought was a quieter spell where I could do a bit of brushing up. Of course life doesn’t work out like that and my quieter spell… well it wasn’t. I was a bit unsure what to expect with this exam for a couple of reasons; firstly that I’ve done a few ‘design’ VCAPs before but not a ‘deploy’ one, and so I was a little unsure as to what to expect in terms of format and question style. And, secondly my role for a few years now has been architecture focussed which means less hands-on.

The exam date crept up on me and I decided to give it a go rather than reschedule to a date in the future when I may be in no better position to do it anyway. The exam is based on VMware Hands on Labs so if you are familiar with those, particularly the challenger labs, then the operation of the lab environment isn’t really anything new. The exam consists of 27 questions for which you are allocated 210 minutes. The timer in the top right-hand corner seems quite reassuring – 210 minutes seems like a long time and 27 questions not that many (when compared to the VCP exams for example) – but it shouldn’t be; the time does seem to be absorbed into space. On average you have around 7.5 minutes per question and some are quite in-depth with several different tasks that cross different areas (e.g. storage and networking). If you are comfortable with a particular area you can work through it reasonably quickly but for anything you aren’t familiar with, there isn’t a much time to work it out (to put it mildly).

Around half way through my exam I hit an issue where to network connection to the lab disappeared and then recovered itself after around twenty minutes. The problem is the timer doesn’t stop ticking! Somewhat resigned to defeat, I carried on and finished the exam with maybe 6 questions completely unanswered. I guess this is always the danger with a live, lab-based exam. Needless to say I expected to fail pretty badly and was actually surprised when the results came through around half an hour later and I’d only missed out by around 20 points. In actual fact this made it more frustrating than if I’d missed the mark by 100 points.

Given I was pretty close despite being unable to answer several questions (and so presumably did reasonably well on the ones I did answer), I rescheduled again straight away rather than remain bitter for several weeks or months. Second time round I just hoped I didn’t have a reoccurrence of the issue and went in with much more intensity knowing time is tight anyway and there is always the risk of an issue so the quicker you can work the less chance an issue will make a difference to the result. Even so I still finished with 2 questions pretty much unattempted but am pleased to say I made it through by a reasonable margin.

Tips I’d give:

  1. Time management really is key. You can navigate back and forth through the questions and you get marks for partial answers so it makes sense to answer what you know, leave anything you don’t and make a note to come back to it. When you go back prioritise. There are no negative marks for doing something wrong (unless you destroy your lab).
  2. Read the blueprint, pretty much everything is going to be tested in some way. You don’t have time to sit there working things out you really don’t know. Time management again!
  3. Kyle Jenner has a really good study guide.
  4. You do get access to the documentation but I can’t imagine you’d have the luxury of being able to use it in any meaningful way. There are a whole load of documents covering everything from resource management, install, PowerCLI, security etc. etc. – it’s hard enough just finding the right document, never mind the relevant content in the time available. Did I mention time management?

Overall I’d say it was a pretty fun exam to do (if you are that way inclined) – tough but fair; even in-spite of the issue I experienced on the first attempt. Looking forward to VCAP7-CMA Deployment when it’s available 😉

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