VCP-5 Exam Thoughts

I am happy to say that this morning, I sat the VCI-5 exam and passed on my first go at it! The VCI-5 exam is essentially the same test as the VCP-5 but the passing score is higher. VMware Certified Instructors are required to take this exam and it’s not open to the public.

If you’re an existing VCP 4, the exam has no class requirement until February 29th, 2012 and you can successfully upgrade to a VCP 5.  After that, you’ll need to take an official course.  You can see the upgrade path outlined below.

Like most other bloggers, I felt the exam was harder and a lot more real world vs. the previous VCP exams. If you’ve done any homework, you’ve probably realized that the exam is a lot less “maximum/minimum” questions.  Love it or hate it, but I welcome the idea! You must be prepared for multiple troubleshooting questions.  Now, I can’t tell you exactly what’s on it per the NDA, but I can say that you must be ready to answer quickly because it’s 85 questions in 90 minutes.

I didn’t even leave much time on the clock.  I think I had 3 minutes left when I submitted it, which is the tightest time crunch I’ve had on any certification exam in years.  The VCP makes most Microsoft exams laughable!  (Trust me, I should know, I recently sat all the Microsoft exams for the MCITP on Hyper-V.  Yawn…)  I marked about 10 questions for review and went with my hunch on all but 2 where I felt I was getting tricked into a wrong answer. The consultant came out of me on those last two questions, I guess. There will be questions where you either know it flat out or you’ll have to sell yourself on the answer.  As somebody who teaches official VMware courses and general “sysadmin” courses at Purdue, I can tell you that you should always go with your gut 95% of the time. I see people get burned all the time when they doubt themselves. I’m telling ya!

Here are my best ways of making sure you’re successful:

  • Grab the official exam blueprint.  Then see my second bullet.
  • Read Forbes Guthries 50 page “Notes” document from front to back. He also has a great reference card but the full notes are where it’s at!  From his site:  “They’re excerpts taken directly from VMware’s own official PDFs.  The notes aren’t meant to be comprehensive, or for a beginner; just my own personal notes.” Don’t just skim it, read the entire thing and understand it.  You’ll end up learning more than you need to know! 🙂
  • Build a home lab for practice!  I can say that you will fare better on this exam with some real hands on experience.  Even if you’re doing nested ESXi inside VMware Workstation. Check out my blog post about my Shuttles that work perfectly out of the box with ESXi 5 and Sammy Bogaert’s blog if you’d like to set it up inside workstation.
  • Take a VMware “What’s New” class. If you’ve got a lot of experience this class most certainly will help you get up to speed on the new features that have been released in vSphere 5.  The Install, Configure, Manage class is great for somebody starting out but for the people who’ve been doing it awhile, the “What’s New” class will help bring you up to speed.
  • Check out Simon Longs blog.  Simon has been knocking out solid practice exams for years.  He’s got some great practice exam questions too!
  • VMware has a mock exam as well.  Be sure to not ace it the first time out!  Find a question you know is right and purposely get it wrong.  Once you get a 100%, you’re done and can’t take it anymore.
  • Read Scott Lowes “Mastering vSphere 5” book.  I find that his books are excellent resources.  They cover a lot more than what’s just on the VCP exam.  If you’re looking for a good day to day reference, be sure to pick this up.  I always jump straight to the networking and storage sections first and then read the rest after.  If you’re new to the technology, read it front to back.  That is, unless you’re better at reading things backwards.
  • Cody Bunch and Damian Karlson have been putting together “brownbags” that focus on all kinds of stuff.  They’ve just now kicked off a VCP 5 series, so check it out!  With my busy schedule, I always had to catch the recordings but I’m hoping to get in and help out live if they ever need it for the remainder of the VCP 5 series.
  • Duncan Epping and Frank Dennemans “Clustering” book is a great resource for the new FDM version of HA.

Good luck and make sure you’re prepared!  Most won’t be able to just walk in and pass!  If you’ve got any other tips/tricks, feel free to post them in the comments section.

Next up, kick back for a few days and relax and then on to VCAP-DCA & DCD on 5, whenever that comes out!! Hopefully VMware release the blueprint for those soon.

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One Response to VCP-5 Exam Thoughts

  1. David Malicote says:

    Ryan, this is great information. I was already studying to the exam but was kind of lost with “what to study next”. Thanks a ton for the resources.

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