The beginners guide to failing the VCAP-DCA exam

In early December I took two days out and sat the VCAP-DCA exam in Sydney.  Two days travel was required because there is no Pearson Professional testing centre in New Zealand so I had a 2,300KM journey to my nearest testing centre.

I took the exam on December 3rd and found it to be the most taxing exam I have ever taken, a lot of fun too.  As you should know from the other coverage the exam is all live labs, lots of live labs.  Just under two weeks later I got my result: 281, which is a narrow fail.  So now I’ll be doing the exam again as I have to pass the exam so I can keep teaching the courses you might want to attend to prepare for the exam. 

So why did I fail?  One simple thing, I didn’t follow my own advise.  If you ask my students what I advise them to do before sitting any VMware exam it’s simple.  Read through the Blueprint and on every bullet point be able to say, “Yes I understand that, I can do that”. 

My excuse is time constraints, I didn’t have time to re-read course materials and complete labs so they were fresh in my mind.  I mostly read manuals while I was in transit and we all know how little we learn that way.

There are a heap of web sites with good information on the materials to study, one of the richest is Sean Crookston’s vFail another great resource in Kendrick Coleman’s page and of course there’s Cody Bunch’s BrownBag series of webinars

One of the critical parts of preparation is a lab to build things in and then tear them down.  Since the exam is live labs you need to know how to drive the tools.  If you don’t have a lab now check out TechHead’s guide or take some inspiration from the awesome vTardis to get great nesting going on.

When you’re in the exam don’t wait to complete each question before moving on to another question, that will lead to you not attempting every question.  I made a note of questions numbers that I was unsure of or needed to do more work on and came back to them after I’d attempted every other question.  You will have access to documentation inside the exam, which is closer to the real world than most exams.  Don’t expect to have every document you used to prepare, There was one missing that I thought was important.  Take a look at the recorded demo of the exam environment.

Most importantly read through the Blueprint and on every bullet point be able to say, “Yes I understand that, I can do that”. 

© 2010, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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3 Responses to The beginners guide to failing the VCAP-DCA exam

  1. Thanks for the mention of my Study Guide. I took my exam a few days later then you and am still awaiting the results myself. It was definitely a tough exam and no shame in failing it the first time around.

  2. Barrie says:

    No shame in just failing this – VCAP is beast covering nearly everything. You’ll nail it second time up.

    I have been spending last the last month or two doing everything via vCLI/vMA and powercli instead of using the vSphere client and will need to spend some time with Orchestrator before I take VCAP-DCA

  3. Sanjai says:

    Even i took it on last november and got flunked, my score was 252. i totally agree that, it was one of the toughest exam i sat till now.
    I’m hitting the labs harder now, to clear it off next time.
    Good luck for you next time.

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