VCAP-CID exam: Know what to expect and how to prepareBy Matt Vandenbeld
What better way to get inside tips on how to pass a certification exam than hearing about it straight from a peer who recently passed it?
I just recently had the opportunity to challenge the VCAP-CID (Cloud Infrastructure Design) exam. I am not new to VCAP exams, this being my fourth, so I am fairly familiar with the format at this point. I did manage to achieve a passing grade, so I can throw another bunch of letters on my signature line. I thought this would be a great chance to share my experiences about how I prepared, the question formats that may challenge you and other important tips.
As far as the exam goes, it’s a typical VCAP: 115 questions of varying types. The types of questions are multiple choice, multiple choice/multiple answer, and visio style. There is very heavy score weighting towards the visio type questions and there are usually 6-8 of these.
Be wary of visio questions
The exam does not allow you to go back to previous questions at all. This was new to me since the previous exams allowed review. I heard rumors that this is due to a bug where some of the visio-style question answers would wipe if you returned to view them. I had that bug happen to me in a beta exam and it was not fun scrambling to try to recreate it. The inability to go back means you should pay extra attention to the visio-style questions. Try to give yourself 15-minutes for each. Some will be much easier and some you might just have to say “good enough.”
This exam is 3 hours and 20 minutes long, which seems like forever, but it passes quickly so time management is key. Don’t sweat the multiple-choice questions because they are worth points but not as many as everything else. Just answer and move on. It’s better to get a multiple-choice question wrong than spend 15 minutes on it and not complete a visio.
As far as the quality of the exam, I was fairly unimpressed. For a $400 exam and the amount of time it takes to prepare, you should not see typos. I counted about 10 spelling errors in the exam, which didn’t really affect any questions and I know it seems nitpicky, but c’mon! There was also one visio question where the format of the answer was completely different than the other types and not intuitive, nor clear, on how to relate the items to each other. The exam is challenging, and I think does a decent job of validating skills, but the format is always a struggle. Regardless of formatting, the operation of the exam was good, and I didn’t have any difficulties with the interface at all, nor any hangs or crashes.
How did I prepare? Well, to be honest, this exam was probably the least prepared I’ve been for any VCAP. I usually give myself a couple weeks to study prior to the exam. Unfortunately work and home did not allow this this time. I suppose all’s well that ends well. I would recommend more than 20 hours of study to prepare for this exam. Depending on where you are in your professional development, more time might be required.
I read the vCAT version 2 a few times. The exam is still on version 1.5, which frequently slips my mind because I mostly work on 5.1. Reading the vCAT is paramount; a lot of great design information is there. I also read through chargeback documents and vShield admin and user guides. Luckily we were performing a lab rebuild as well so I had a lot of hands-on experience over the previous few weeks.
I highly recommend some hands-on. It is a design exam but familiarity with how everything is implemented helps immensely. Be very familiar with how vCloud networking works at all levels; know allocation models and virtual data center types like the back of your hand. Also, ensure you practice the visio tool on the VMware website – even if you have written a different VCAP. There are subtle differences in how they want items linked and going through the demo is mandatory.
All said and done, I’m obviously happy with the outcome of my exam. These exams are by no means easy after all. Next I will be writing the VCAP-CIA (Cloud Infrastructure Administration) to prep for getting my VCDX-Cloud. Certifications never stop. There is always another mountain to climb if you want to keep on the leading edge.
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About the Author
Matt Vandenbeld is VCDX-DCV #107 and a vExpert, currently employed at Long View Systems in Calgary, Alberta, Canada as a Technical Architect specializing in virtual infrastructures. He holds numerous industry certs, RHCSA, MCSE, VCP, VTSP, VCAP-DCA/DCD, and many others. He's been in the IT industry for over 10 years, specializing in virtualization for the last six. Cloud and virtualization is my passion. I know, Im a geek. Or is it a vGeek? I love to learn and talk about any topic, especially virtualization!
Author's Website: http://www.cloudmatt.com/
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