28-07-14

VCAP-DTA Exam Experience

As most regular readers will know, I sat the VCAP-DTA exam last Friday. The short version is I failed. Only by a few points, but first is first and second is nowhere, as they say. I’d been studying for the exam on and off for seven months and I felt reasonably well prepared for it, but like all good exams, it found my weaker spots and probed them mercilessly.

As usual, I had to travel over the Pennines to Leeds to my nearest VCAP test centre. I don’t mind that so much, it’s an air conditioned train and I can get some quiet time to go back over my study notes and make sure I’ve got it all fresh in my mind. The exam itself is 23 questions (many with subtasks) over 3 hours. I say this all the time, but it’s really tight time wise and you just don’t have the slack in the three hours to get stuck on something or to go back and validate your responses. That’s not an excuse by the way, I’ve said that before on VCAP exams I’ve passed.

In terms of exam content, it was pretty close to the blueprint, so the usual advice of read it thoroughly before you go in still stands true. A special mention for VMware Education for getting my results back in a couple of hours. I know a lot of effort has gone into streamlining the marking process and it is better to get the results quickly, even if it wasn’t the score you wanted.

How did I feel? Annoyed with myself, but also a bit surprised. My gut feeling was that I’d done enough to get through the exam and pass, but I hadn’t. That being said, I know of other very competent View folks who haven’t got past it first time either. I suppose if anything, it illustrates the value of the certification as it’s so hard (for me) to get.

I will be back to have another crack at it, but I have to wait 14 days now. I’ll probably need that long to recompose myself (no pun intended) and also to cover over ThinApp and other items that kicked my ass a bit. Anyone who thinks that you only need to know your way around View Administrator is in for a pretty rude awakening.

So then, to close, here are some words of advice :-

  • Follow the blueprint and look at the wording of the skills and abilities section carefully
  • Keep moving. You have three hours and it will go in a snap. If you are doing a task that requires an installer running, kick it off and move on to the next thing. It will buy you valuable minutes and you can go back to it later
  • Steve Dunne’s advice on re-sizing your remote screens to 1024 x 768 is a good one if you don’t have a large monitor
  • If you get the 5 minute warning and you haven’t finished and then you can’t click inside your remote session anymore, click the question tab and then click the top tab to get back to your remote session to restore control. I worked this out with about 45 seconds to go!
  • Use the study guides available, they’ve usually been written by folks who’ve been through the pain of the exam!
  • Run through all the objectives in your lab. If you can’t afford a home lab, use the VMware Hands On Labs and just play around there, I’m sure they won’t mind if you don’t stick to the script
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