I sat for the VMware VCAP-DCD exam on Wednesday in preparation for the first VCDX defenses of 2016. Taking certification tests is always stressful, however looking back at this particular exam, it did not need to be. Many of the blog posts around preparation for the VCAP-DCD exam mention how difficult it is, being pressed for time, etc — fortunately, I found none of that to be true. Like any certification exam, your real-world experience is going to be the biggest factor — along with how you naturally think. I am blessed to have found the exam the easiest of the three and would gladly retake the exam over the VCAP-DCA exam any day of the week and twice on Sunday — and I’ve been an Ops-focused individual for 20 years!

My suggestions on preparation include some of the same items you’ve likely read before — the Pluralsight videos from Scott Lowe are great. They help to reinforce the topics in a clear and concise way. The vSphere Design book was another great read as well — it’s available on Safari Online if you have a subscription, as well as Amazon. The blueprint is the blueprint — avoid it at your peril. Really though, work on designs — if you are doing the work everyday in your job, the exam should be really straightforward and simple. There were no obscure, “only 2 people in the world have ever seen this scenario” questions on the exam. It was mostly, here is a set of requirements, here is what the end design needs to accomplish — diagram it out using the tool.

As far as the tool itself goes, it has some challenges. But the great thing about the tool is it is limited to what you need to focus on for that particular question. It still gives you a few “red herring” options for objects, but for the most part if you think you need something in the design and you don’t find it in the tool, then you are wrong — at least as far as the exam is concerned. So, use the tool to help you focus on the things it is looking for. Everyone has a different methodology with how they work through a design, and the exam is trying to test a broad set of people on a small subset of designs — there is going to be some differences.

As always, take your time. I did not feel rushed in the same way I did with the VCAP-DCA exam. Whereas I was rushing with minutes left to go to finish troubleshooting scenarios, I found myself completely finished answering and reviewing all the VCAP-DCD questions with just over an hour to spare. I had to sit back and focus on whether I felt completely finished or not.

The best feeling in the world is hitting that Finish button and immediately seeing a passing score! The next challenge is to finish my design paperwork for VCDX in February and get ready for that challenge!