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ARich
Contributor
Contributor

Recently took the VCAP-DCA550

I took the DCA 5.5 on Thursday, and after studying/labbing off and on(mostly off) for 7 months I still found the exam really tough.

This is how I prepped....

  1. I used the 5.1 study guides for the most part. Since this exam is only a couple months old, there isn't alot of material out there for it. I used this post from Josh Andrew's blog to sorta match up the objectives.
  2. All of the "new" material for this exam is pretty intuitive and easy to grasp, so I focused on the 5.1 study guides almost exclusively. I spent maybe a single day labbing Orchestrator and Replication.
  3. I read 4 books while preparing for this exam.
    • Mastering vSphere 5.5
    • Official VCAP-DCA Cert Guide
    • vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deep Dive
    • Networking for VMware Administrators (skimmed through this one)
  4. I had a pretty good lab environment using some equipment at my job, but it honestly wasn't necessary. I could have achieved the same goal with autolab and openfiler.

Here's my opinion/tips on the exam....

  1. SLOW. It was really laggy from start to finish. Using the web client, which is laggy enough on it's own, was very frustrating. I did the vast majority of the exam in the thick client and putty. I'd recommend finding out exactly what you can only do in the web client, and avoid it completely unless you are forced to use it.
  2. Take a few minutes to set everything up before you start.
    • The putty sessions were pre-configured and saved which was cool of them, but I'd still recommend logging into all the host beforehand.
    • Log into the thick and web client before you start the questions.
    • Also open a couple tabs for pub.vmware.com and kb.vmware.com
    • Make sure adobe is the default pdf reader(it wasn't for me...) and learn how to use advanced searches. This was very helpful. Because of this I really didn't have to spend time reviewing any documentation when studying.
  3. I thought people were overstating the limited amount of time in this exam, but I was wrong. It was the shortest 3 hours I've ever seen. Don't fumble around on a question for too long. I made the mistake of staying on a single question for nearly 25 minutes because I just felt like I was really close to figuring it out. However on a later question, a somewhat related task sorted helped me figure out the question I had problems with earlier. I could have saved a ton of time if I just skipped it.
  4. There are some questions that build upon previous tasks, but they are pretty obvious to spot. That had me really worried about skipping around too much, but honestly it wasn't really a big deal.
  5. esxcli esxcli commmand list | grep "whatever"  ...... This was a big time saver
  6. My exam seemed to be VERY focused on a certain couple sections of the blueprint. If I didn't spend alot of time studying those couple sections I would have had zero chance at passing this exam.
  7. Really pay attention to the details of each question. Sometimes they clearly spell out the requirements, and then sometimes it wasn't so obvious. There was a couple times when I caught a "hidden" task in the question at the very last second.
  8. I clicked finished like most recommended and didn't let the time expire. I don't know if that made a difference or not, but I got my score back in under a hour.
12 Replies
rushad61
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Hi ARich

Thanks for your exam experience very helpful for those prepping. I am giving my VCAP-DCA510 in 9 days and constantly looking at the forum for updates and feedback. It is great they dropped Auto deploy and Image Builder from the old exam. I have decided to give my 510 exam and not 550 as I do not have lab equipment for 5.5 and cannot update my hosts

Can I ask you when you perform a task do they say do it via the CLI only, or do they just expect you to complete the task successfully regardless of what method you use?

Well done for passing. Will let you know my outcome when done.

Regards

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JoshuaAndrewsVM

You may be asked to write out or fix PowerCLI commands or basic scripts, perform tasks that can only be done via PowerCLI or are impractical otherwise (such as create or modify 100 VMs.)

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ARich
Contributor
Contributor

As far as command line goes....

There isn't much you can only do in vCLI outside of some storage/security functions (claim rules, satp configurations, custom FW rules, ect...). For the most part you can do almost everything in the client and if really doesn't matter at all how you finish the task, as long as you finish it. But there was some points where the lag was so annoying that it seemed faster to do some stuff in CLI as opposed to gui.

However I will tell you this, like Josh said, atleast be familiar enough with PowerCLI to fumble through some VERY basic commands, or run a script and decipher the errors it may produce.

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rushad61
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Hi Guys

Thanks for letting me know. So I will make sure to study on PowerCli commands. I am getting the hang of Esxcli and esxc-cfg but not much powercli usage.

Also ARich do you know if a questions asks you to setup a switch called "vSwitch3" and you set it up and call it "vswitch3" will you be marked incorrectly. Should it be case sensitive?

Also how may hosts did you have in your lab exam? Some people suggest 2 for the DCA510 and 5 hosts in the DCA550


Regards

Rushad

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JoshuaAndrewsVM

No capitalizations matter anywhere.  IPs must be exact, most misspellings are allowed - I suggest you always make sure to get the first few characters correct tho.

2 hosts in DCA510, 5 hosts in DCA550.  Which means in DCA510 when you do things like firewalls or certificates and you make a mistake you end your exam.  In DCA550 you just shut down one host and maybe lose one extra item.

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JoshuaAndrewsVM

rushad61, discussing specific exam questions and scenarios is prohibited by the NDA and can result in decertification.

FYI

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rushad61
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Sorry JoshuaAndrewsVM did not meant to break any NDA rules

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escapem2
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

thanks for sharing ARich,

7 months looks great for a good preparation however you felt it was a really hard exam...kinda worried now

BTW what was your score?

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AlbertWT
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

what's the difference in VCAP5-DCA and VCP5-DCV ? I'm still confused as to which certification should I take to renew my VCP-510 which is about to expired after 15 March 2015.

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scott28tt
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

You're already a VCP5-DCV holder, passing the VCP510 exam was what earned you that certification (along with meeting the training requirement).

VCAP certifications are the next level up from VCP - have a look here: Certification Roadmap

The VCAP5-DCA is a hands-on lab exam for experienced vSphere administrators - the other VCAP for vSphere is VCAP5-DCD, it's a design exam.

This page explains the options you have to recertify your VCP: Recertification Policy


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Craps676
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for the info, also busy prerparing for my VCAP and thought 3 months intensive preparation should be enough, now you have me worried...

Congratulations on your pass though.

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AlbertWT
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

Cool, thanks man !

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