My VCAP6-DCA Deploy (3V0-623) Exam Experience

I haven’t blogged for quite a bit of time as I was busy in my VCAP6-Deploy exam and finally I passed my exam last saturday. There is a lot of things which I want to share about my exam experience and the things I learned during my preprations. 

I passed my VCP 6 exam back in june 2017 and since then a strong feeling about going for VCAP exam started darting every now and then in my mind. I have few certifications but none of them were advance level and this thought pumped me up for going for this exam.

I work as a operations engineer in OVH vCloud Air division and interacts with virtualization/Networking/Storage things on day to day basis and this certainly was an advantage as I already have hands on few of the topics mentioned in VCAP exam blueprint. 

My preparation

I started my preparation by downloading the VCAP6-Deploy exam blueprint and had a rough look on all the objectives. This helped me in having a picture of what my lab should looks like for achieving most of the topics.

Since I do not have a dedicated lab at home, I spun my lab in vCloud Air and deployed 2 vCenter server and 6 Esxi hosts (3X24 GB, 3X6 GB, 4 vCPU each). The first 3 hosts were placed in my management cluster backed by windows based vCenter, where i deployed rest of my 3 esxi host and VCSA as VM’s.  I used openfiler for shared storage and used vDS most of the time for networking setup.

Once the lab setup was completed, I started going through each and every topic. Few folks told me auto-deploy won’t be there in exam, but still I did not wanted to leave any single topic. It took me 3 months of time to complete all objectives in my lab. Following blog posts were very helpful during this time:

vJenner’s-VCAP6-DCV Deploy Study Guide

Matt Callaway’s-VCAP6-DCV Deploy Study Guide

Mordi’s-VCAP6-DCV Deploy Study Guide

Also Ramy Mahmoud has done a wonderful job for community by creating this pdf guide which explains all exam topics in a greater details.

Unfortunately there is not any official study guide(as of now) for VCAP6 deploy exam, but I found VCAP5-DCA Official cert Guide by Steve Baca very helpful for few topics which needs more clarity. 

By the first week of December my preparations completed and I scheduled my exam in 3rd week of December as I needed at least a week of revision time as there are hell lot of things that you need to remember.

Prior to exam week I packed my bags and left for 2 days for vacation (as I was completely drained by amount of studies which i did in last 3 months and my body was badly pleading for some rest)

Exam day

I reached exam center 45 mins before my scheduled time. The exam centre guy asked me for 2 photo identity proof (which have your signature also) and my appointment letter for cross verification. If you are in India, then any 2 id’s out of PAN card, DL and Passport will work. I had a bit of debate with him on why he can’t accept Aadhar card as ID proof.

After all the fuss was sorted out, he handed my one sheet which had all the exam related instructions written. I read the instructions twice before signing the paper. Make sure your signature on instruction sheet matches with whats there in your ID proof.

If you are carrying a bag etc with you, ask for a locker where you can keep your belongings. You have to keep one ID proof with you all the time during your exam.

At sharp 2 PM my exam started. Lab was initially a bit laggy and the mouse clicks were responding after 2 or 3 seconds. But I heard this before from my other friends who have attempted this exam before me, so I did not freaked out and after reading 2 pages of instructions which basically explains that back key will not work, function key will not work etc etc, i jumped to questions. 

First 2-3 questions were easy and I was very happy, then came some serious questions and I had to read those questions 2 times to make sure I understood what exactly needs to do. I stuck in one of the hard question, but I did not wasted any time trying different commands and I moved on to the next question and marked that question on a paper for reviewing it later. 

If you do not understands a question or you are stuck mid way through the question, please move on asap as time pressure is there. I guess out of 27 questions, you need to complete 23 questions for achieving passing score. 

On the lab desktop, you will find a set of documentation which can be consulted if you are stuck with some question, but believe me it will just waste your time searching info in those docs. The key here is to practice each topic mentioned in blueprint a couple of times in your lab so that you can remember command syntax’s or any configuration string. 

Advise/Tips

If you are typing some command and did a spelling mistake or used wrong syntax, then don’t waste your time pressing backspace from physical keyboard or on-screen keyboard, it will not work.

  • Use control + w (linux shortcut) for deleting stuffs quickly. This shortcut basically deletes the last word typed.
  • Also if your screen is full of output by firing any command, you can use control + l from your physical keyboard to clear screen at once. 

My approach for exam was to read the question and decide whether its an easy one or tough. I attempted all the easy one’s first.

There are certain questions which can be completed in 3-4 minutes. On the other hand there are questions which will tell you to configure a lot of things and it needs more than 10-12 minutes of time. Divide your time/question smartly. 

I got a 21 inch monitor in my exam which was just fine, except for the questions where editing something opens a new window and the OK button is hidden from you and it force you to drag the opened window here and there so that you can hit OK.

But dragging window was terrible experience for me.  First time it took some 30-35 seconds for windows to get adjusted in a position from where I can see ok button. So I quickly lowered the chrome resolution from 100% to 90% and I don’t wanted to loose even a single second. 

One of the most important advise is not to use mouse scrolling button to navigate through options, especially in questions where you are entering some numeric values for configuration. Scrolling mouse button will change that value it it remain selected after you entered the value. Use dragging sidebar option instead of scrolling. 

A good idea is to complete few hands on lab before appearing for the examination. HOL will give you exact same feeling of the interface which you are going to get in exam.  

I scored 438 in my exam and I am extremely pleased with my efforts. Also during my preparation, I started writing few blog posts on VCAP topics and I will soon publish my version of VCAP study guide in a week or so. 

If you are currently preparing for your VCAP6 exam, then I wish you all the best. Hope you all join VCAP club soon. Feel free to reach out to me if you need any assistance/guidance regarding exam. Just don’t ask what were the questions 😛 as I am not going to tell you that, respect NDA 😉

A merry X’mas to all of you. Stay tuned for my VCAP study guide 😉