VCAP5-DCA Exam experiences

After preparing for about 2 weeks, I have taken (and passed!) the VCAP5-DCA exam at Global Knowledge in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands. This post will give you some tips and tricks that might help you prepare for the exam and know what will be expected of you.

There are tons of posts about the VCAP5-DCA exam, but I think having a recent experience post is not such a bad idea.

The exam
First of all some facts about the exam:

  • Exam request needs to be approved by VMware before you can schedule it
  • 26 Lab-based questions (this is for the vSphere 5.0 exam, unsure about the 5.5 exam)
  • Time limit of 210 minutes (240 minutes if you are not native English)
  • No drinks or food allowed during your exam, leaving the room is possible but the timer will continue. Make sure you had a great breakfast!
  • You can currently choose between the vSphere 5.1 and vSphere 5.5 exam when scheduling

Prepare
Next to the 5 years of experience with vSphere, I prepared myself using the VCAP-DCA training videos by Jason Nash. These videos used to be copyrighted by TrainSignal, but are now owned by PluralSight. Are you a vExpert this year? Then you’re lucky as you can get free access to PluralSight for a year just by showing your vExpert title. The videos are in the Optimize and Scale category.

These videos will give you a GREAT insight in what’s coming to you. The subjects that mattered most to me as I never really used them were AutoDeploy, configuring the ESXi firewall and the Authentication Proxy. Even tho some subjects were very common to me, I watched the related videos and skipped through them a little bit.

As other blog posts suggest: time is of the essence during your exam. I actually ended up at lab 26 which I couldn’t complete in time, but I also had an AutoDeploy lab which was broken in my opinion as I couldn’t seem to import the ESXi offline bundle. Not sure if that was a piece of troubleshooting there, but I couldn’t seem to fix it at the time. I used all my 4 hours, of which I used 30 minutes waiting because the lab connection was rather slow and didn’t show all text in some screens, requiring a reconnect to the specific system or some minimizing and maximizing of the screen.

Another thing you can use to prepare yourself is the VCAP-DCA Exam UI Demo. This flash based instruction shows you how your exam/lab will look like and how you will switch between instructions and the lab environment. You will be given a list of system names and the application that’s running on it (like vCenter, VUM, ESXi and VMA) and the associated usernames , passwords and domains). I actually wasted my first 10 minutes logging into the vCenter Server because of some healthy stress, fat fingers and enthusiasm to start the exam =).

I would suggest writing down the important system names, IP addresses and login credentials which you will use often (ESXi hosts, vCenter Server and the PowerCLI machine) on the notepad you’ll receive for use in the classroom. This will really save you a lot of time as you don’t need to switch from lab to instruction and resize screens, which really takes up a lot of time due to the bad connection.

Finally, I have been in touch with Joshua Andrews (@SOSTech_WP on Twitter) who offers an online lab environment similar to the VCAP one. You should try it out just to prepare yourself even better!

Subjects
Basically all subjects in the blueprint will be thrown at you in some way. Some may be easy like creating a host profile and attaching it to a host, others will be more difficult like using AutoDeploy and PowerCLI. This all depends on your own experience of course.

Again; time is of the essence, you should know where to find specific settings and knowing which document of the vSphere document set describes what subject is valuable to know as well.

I surely hope this post will help you prepare and increase your passing chance and score!

Thanks for reading!

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