I took today the VCAP-DCD 5.1 exam (VDCD510, will be retired on 31.1.2015) and I’d like to share my impressions with you.
First of all, I failed the exam at 284 points, the passing score being 300.
Preparation, learning and experience are key to passing the exam (yeah, I did a lot of research on the interwebs to figure that one out). What I can say is that I came to the exam totally unprepared. My plan was to pass during the summer, I put a lot of energy into learning in Spring, unfortunately due to various circumstances I was able to schedule only in December. And it ended up being at the worst moment, because besides changing roles (performing handover at the previous job and getting to learn a ton of things at the new one), I ended up being sick for a couple weeks, then I had to tend for my wife and my two younger kids who were also ill (not an excuse you’d say, but doing everything at home and ending up totally dead in bed at 11pm isn’t going to give you time to prepare). My lack of knowledge in networking was also a decisive factor in failing the exam, I’ve had very little exposure to networking during all my career, not that I didn’t want to, but always ended in jobs where networking is being solved by other teams or out of scope. This week I had another echo of two skilled VMware experts failing the test so I went to the exam in a mood of “no way you’ll pass” and “you’ve got nothing to lose, you’ll see how it goes”.
I cannot comment the test itself directly, but I’d say some of the formulations were a bit awkward, I had a couple cases where I couldn’t really understand the question. Another disturbing element was working with some of the design modules, very specifically the network oriented ones. I struggled to keep all the elements in a readable way and in such a tiny space (not sure if it’s due to the screen resolution used at the training venue). On some of the drag and drop tests (where you select the order in which some implementation tasks should be done) I had a couple of graphic bugs and couldn’t determine whether the system truly sees the elements in the same order as I placed them.
Being a non-native english speaker, I was allowed 275 minutes for the exam (4h25 if I’m not mistaken). I started very rapidly, with over 70 questions done within the first 2h30. By this time, I took a first break. I managed to pass another 25 questions within another hour and I took a 2nd break around this time. I ended the test with 40 minutes available. I did a very huge mistake by not reviewing all my questions (not sure if it would’ve been possible to review and amend some answers at this point). But I was just so tired and disappointed at my lack of knowledge on some topics that I skipped this part.
I passed the exam at one of the three test centers in Prague at Avnet, following a former colleague’s recommendation. The environment was OK, but the test room was quite cold, It was a good choice to come with a zip hoodie. One thing that I underestimated (besides reading it in many VCAP-DCD related blog posts) is the fact that drinking coffee and water before the exam isn’t a good idea. I was thankful that I had the opportunity to go relieve myself twice during the exam, at the cost of wasting precious time.
– preparation is key (no, really…) – thoroughly review weak areas
– if you can, try to get some time and some calm to prepare properly (if everybody is ill, then it’s truly no luck)
– sleep well – I might end up sleeping at the hotel next time
– no coffee and no water: unless you’ve learned to master the ancient art of bladder control, skip those two and you’ll do yourself a very good favor
– be relaxed (I was)
It’s a mix of disappointment, of expected outcome, of experience gained and of amazement at the community support. Disappointment because missing by 16 points isn’t like missing by 100 or 150 points.. yet the outcome was predictable due to lack of proper preparation and insufficient knowledge in one of the key areas. I didn’t expect to see so much networking-related topics in the exam. This is a very different experience than taking the VCP, as some of the formulations may sound ambiguous. You tend to think outside of the context at moments and can see some hidden meaning that isn’t there, at times you have to assume something that isn’t in fact mentioned, it’s not an easy one. Finally thanks to our community for the encouragements I received after failing, it gives me the will to give it another try.
I’m a bit relaxed now, I’ll see if I can reschedule in January, else I’ll enjoy my holidays a bit more 🙂