VCAP-DCD #2: The Wrath of SAN

By | November 4, 2014

In  a previous post “VMworld Day 1 Experience” I talked about my VCAP-DCD exam experience, which was soul draining and resulted in a big fat fail. I took advantage of a promo to retake the exam for 25% off so I looked for the next test date that worked with my schedule. Yesterday was the day of reckoning down at ye olde Pearson Vue and it was just like I remembered it, long and mind numbing.

Before I get to the results, I’ll recap some of my study strategy for this exam as well as go through some thoughts/impressions.

So being a second time test taker, the focus is a lot different. After my last fail I tried to brain dump the categories where I was either caught off guard or felt like I had some issues. Those were the topics that I would try to focus on.

I approached my studying in a few ways, some successful and some not:

  • Web research on the specific topics
    Found some good stuff here. I focused on finding conceptual, logical and physical designs with pictures (love visuals)
  • Google+ Study Group
    Some great people who post tips and can provide some feedback if you get stuck in your studying.
  • VMware Certification Forums
    It’s always great to read other people’s experiences, especially if they are complaining about the same stuff that you were confused about. A user was so upset by the lack of quality preparation for the DCD exam layout that he built his own simulator
    This guy is frickin amazing. He took the onus to code up a simulator that has similar look and feel to the real deal. vMware education has so far blessed it. You can add content via the forums.
  • Networking for VMware Administrators
    I was looking for some networking designs and this book had them. I don’t think it was really necessary to buy this, given some of the research I had done, but I had some Twitter convos with the authors that were helpful.
  • VMware vSphere Design 2nd Edition
    honestly I tried to read this on a 12 hour flight to Kuwait and it put me to sleep. Not saying that it’s boring but it was hard for me to concentrate.
  • Scott Lowe’s Pluralsight Course on vSphere Design
    I think I preferred Scott talking to me versus reading his words. I didn’t finish the series because my free trial ran out (thanks to @discoposse for the trial though)

Overall I don’t think the books and videos helped much since I was targeting very specific topics. The videos may have helped with the constraints/requirements stuff though.

My second test experience:

  • Questions were very similar if not 70% the same as before. Since I did not know exactly what I missed from the first try, I needed to pick most of the same answers and improve on at least a minority of them to pass. Focusing ok big point items like the design and the drag and drops probably helped.
  • You really need to know the product suite from the version the test is based on, at least in regards to the blueprint. If there is a tool that you use but VMware has something similar, learn about that VMware tool.
  • Think about designing for an environment that contains OS versions  from when that version of vSphere was available (this is very true for the DCA as well)
  • I had a very light meal, little fluids and a pre-test restroom break. This greatly improved my focus. This is very sad but very true.
  • Make sure that design elements are connected by moving them around. Many people complain about the snapping being problematic and it’s very much true. Drag just enough to know that things are OK, you may have to move other elements around after dragging.
  • There may be multiple ways of doing things in the design questions. Answer the best you can while following ‘best practices’ if possible. Most importantly follow what the question asks for! It may be hard to interpret some of the requirements in the design without clarity, but just do what you can and move on.
  • I made good time through the exam until a third of the way through when I started hitting some harder questions that made me start to really read all of the text and spend more time. I made it to question 97 with 30 minutes left, but I blew 25 minutes on that question since it was a design one. I lost focus for a bit on it, so I could have done better.
  • I have found that reading the text from the question and then back up through the scenario can help narrow the focus of the scenario and save some time.
  • I tried to focus on drag and drop and design questions since they were worth the most.
  • As the title of the post implies, I still had some questions around storage related stuff but I took what I learned recently and just went with it.

At the end of the exam I saw “Congratulations” and I was fist pumping like a mad man! 312, good improvement from the 290 that I had before.

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