Tuesday, March 18, 2014

VCAP5-DCA Exam Experience and Prep Tips

I had trouble registering for the exam. The process is to request authorization from VMware, then once authorized register for the exam with Pearson Vue. My account got wonky and it took more phone calls that it should have to get registered for the exam. 

The exam is only offered at Pearson "Professional" centers, so isn't offered at the normal IT training places that offer testing. In a metro of 1M people I probably have 8 testing centers where I could have taken the VCP, but only two that offer the VCAP. I registered for the March 18th, and the date snuck up on me really fast.

Exam Day Experience

I don't drink coffee, but on the morning of the exam I was careful with the Diet Coke. I didn't want to be bogged down from lack of caffeine, but I also didn't want to be jittery. The other consideration is that time is precious on this exam; If you have to take a bio break the clock is still running. I normally eat lunch early and my exam was scheduled to run until 1:45. Since no food or drinks are allowed I ate a snack in the test center parking lot. 

Signing in at the test center is like the normal VMware process, except a little more formal. I got some exam center rules to read over, presented my ID, and was seated for the exam. 

My biggest enemy on the exam was time. Make sure you don't go down the rabbit hole on a question and spend too much time. I numbered out the questions on my whiteboard. If I didn't know how to do the task without going to the docs I drew a circle next to the number. If i started the question but I needed to work ahead I while a process finished I marked it with a slash, so I would remember to return to the question. Once a question was complete I made another slash to make an X. I found this helpful to keep track of my progress. When I went back to a circle I marked it with a slash or X as I made progress. 

Don't waste time, If a question is taking too much time move on. Make sure you get all of the points you know before you start spending time figuring out something you don't know. 

This was the first time I've run out of time during an exam. At the end of the exam I was working back through my circle questions, but had just started on them. I feel like I hit enough to pass, but I also wouldn't be surprised if I just missed it and have to test again. The worst part will be waiting for the results.

Prep tips after the break.