VCAP-DCA Experience

Like many others, I decided to write about my experience with the VCAP-DCA550 exam.

Journey begins

November of 2014, I decided to take the VCAP-DCA exam. I began to review the blueprint, watch training videos, and figured this would be a piece of cake. After all I work with vCenter/vSphere everyday and play in my homelab, right? So I scheduled the exam for December 5th. On the drive in I felt confident. The exam began and it took me about 5-8 minutes to familiarize myself with the testing environment. Everything was going well…..then I hit a few tasks not performed on a daily basis..AHH..I’m stuck!! Immediately opened up the documentation and thought I could quickly find the information. After completing the tasks, figured there was plenty of time left. Looked up…OMG, 10 minutes left and there were still 6 tasks to complete. It can take up to 15 business days to get your results. I got my results 6 hours after completing the exam and as expected I failed the exam.

Game Plan

After eating a BIG slice of that humble pie! I knew there had to be structure if I was going to have any success with this exam. I have the privilege of working with VMware products everyday at work, so my focus was on tasks not part of my daily routine. So I rescheduled the exam for February 5th 2015 and below are the steps taken:

  1. Downloaded VCAP-DCA550 Blueprint here
  2. Grabbed Chris Wahl’s VCAP Study guide here
  3. Focused on areas I felt weak in (2hours everyday) 
    1. Read VMWare’s guides here
    2. Performed steps in lab
    3. Repeat and rinse for each section
  4. Other helpful material
    1. SOSTECH – Joshua Andrews’s lab is amazing. Once you have logged in you are given 16 different scenarios and even receive a score! This was extremely helpful to cement the material into my brain. I highly recommend running through his lab before sitting the exam as this will give you an idea of what to expect.
    2. MWPRESTON – 8 weeks of VCAP is a detailed blog and easy to follow.
    3. Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman – Co-authored 5.1 HA book which is an excellent read got this for my VCP studies.
    4. Mastering VMware vSphere 5.5 – Another excellent book and enjoyed the Master It at the end of each chapter.

After two months of studying I felt comfortable with most of the material especially with tasks not performed on a daily basis. (i.e. lun masking, ssd tagging, etc) I was also able to quickly go through most of the lab exercises quickly. Some areas like Orchestrator and SSL took a bit longer to complete but knew exactly where to find the information in the documentation provided by VMware, incase I forgot commands or needed assistance.

Exam Day

February 5th came, I felt good about the preparation put in this time but still had the nervous jitters after the failed first attempt. As I enter the testing center I cleared my mind of any negative thoughts and just went in and took care of business. I was able to complete all tasks and had 20 minutes left to go back and review any areas I felt needed review. Leaving the testing center I began to overanalyze everything I did on the exam.


Lucky afterwards, I was going to the quarterly managers outing at the local comedy club. This was exactly what I needed to clear my mind! Before walking in I direct messaged  @SOSTech_WP letting him know I finished the exam and thanking him for allowing me to use his lab. About 45 minutes go by and I receive a message to check my email. The moment of truth I opened the email, “Thank you for participating in the VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Data Center Administration program.” and proceeded with opening the attachment….Congratulations on Passing your exam!!!!! Sitting with co-workers I quietly shouted out YES! and continued to watch the show.

Typically at these outings, everyone enters their names into the raffle and at the end of the night prizes are given out.  I never win these events but today was different after all I just found out I passed the VCAP-DCA exam! I hear my name called and run down to the stage to participate in the “price is right” style game. The question asked to the contestants, “How much does it cost for an afternoon at camp?” We all wrote our responses down and the closest to the actual price without going over wins! I wrote $65 and the actual price…..$65 I won again! So all in all February 5th was a special day. Just like December 2nd, 2013, when our 2nd daughter Izabela was born, it was my birthday, and I passed the VCP exam!

Moral of the story…..Preparation yields fantastic results!

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