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My VCAP-DCD Experience

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VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) and consultant Rebecca Fitzhugh details her experience and takeaways after sitting for VMware’s VCAP-DCD exam.
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VMware’s VCAP-DCD is certainly a difficult exam! The knowledge required for this exam goes far beyond any familiarity with the vSphere Client or design theory. You must have an advanced knowledge of subjects such as storage, networking, disaster recovery, best practices, etc. The breadth of this exam knowledge is incredible; the questions jump to high-level design concepts and technical capacity planning. I have been an administrator for many years and am transitioning over to the architect side, pursuing my VCDX, with the VCAP-DCD being a prerequisite of that goal. As design is not yet second nature, I studied far more for this exam (about 4 months) than for my VCAP-DCA.

Here are some things I learned along the way:

  • Ensure you know the difference between a requirement, constraint, risk or assumption. This is essential. I thought “no problem, this is easy” but then I quickly found out on the exam that this isn’t always the case. After staring at a computer screen for several hours, everything starts to blur together, and these ideas could quickly become confused if you are not paying attention. There will be some math required for a handful of questions; luckily there is a calculator available in the test program for those who are math challenged like me!
  • The exam is nearly four hours long (225 minutes) and 15 minutes are allotted for the survey type questions at the beginning. Be aware that there are no scheduled breaks. You can take an unscheduled break, but the clock keeps ticking away while you are away from the exam.
  • Time management is key for any of the advanced certifications. You CANNOT mark questions for review and skip to come back to it later. Know that you will receive six design questions where you have to use the drag and drop tool to place and connect the objects. Something that I did to help manage time was to write the numbers 1-6 on the dry erase board that was given to me. Each time I finished a design, I would put a check mark next to the number. This helped me keep track of how many designs I had left to do so I knew how to spend my limited exam time.
  • Be able to quickly assess the requirements, constraints, etc. for a design scenario and draw something up. Practice! Use a whiteboard or plain pen and paper, but be able to do this in 10-15 minutes. I strongly recommend visiting VMware’s certification website and completing the online demonstration for the design tool. There were approximately 10-12 drag-and-drop type questions on the exam. Some were rather difficult; try not to spend more than 90 seconds on these…they will suck you in! I found myself wasting valuable time on the drag-and-drop questions. There are 100 questions in total; remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint!
The VCAP-DCD exam and the vSphere Design Workshop are fairly well aligned. I would recommend taking the course and reviewing best practices before sitting the test. Also, I found the online Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Design course to be very helpful.

Finally, here is the best part of the exam: scoring is immediate. Unlike the administrator certifications where the labs must be graded, you will know whether you passed or failed before leaving the test center.

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