VCAP6-NV Deploy Exam Experience – Attempt 1 – Fail

On Friday I took the VCAP6-NV Deploy exam.  I didn’t manage to get a passing score this time, but that wont stop me from studying some more and taking it again.  Given work commitments and holiday, this will probably now be at VMworld in Barcelona.

How does it compare to the other VCAP exams?

Like with all the  VCAP6 Deploy exams, the exam is based on the “improved” VMware HOL interface. I personally never took the VCAP5 exams so, I have no opinion on whether it is “improved” or not.  One thing is for certain, like the other VCAP6 Deployment exams, time is not your friend.  In fact, for this exam, I would go so far as to say that time is you nemesis.

Overall the exam lab experience was ok.  Not much lag was experienced and so I can’t complain about the environment… this time.

Why did I fail the VCAP?

Well the easy/quick answer to that is that I only scored 289/500 and didn’t hit the required 300.

The longer answer is that having now taken (and passed) the VCAP6-DCV Deploy and VCAP6-CMA Deploy, I can say the VCAP6-NV, in my opinion, is the more “difficult” of the three.  Considering this was my first attempt and I skipped or didn’t answer at least 6 (out of 24) questions and ran out of time before being able to go back.  I am actually encouraged with the result. I’m on the right track, and although I didn’t pass, it could have been ALOT worse.

My background is not within the Networking space, that fluffy cloud/magic unicorn/fairy dust is someone else’s problem on my Visio diagram. That is not meant as an excuse, and I know it sounds like one. However, I have worked with Data Centre Virtualisation for 15+ years, Cloud Management products for the last 3 or 4 years and VMware NSX, on and off, for about 6-12 months. I have never had to “worry” about how the connectivity happens, just that it does and it meets my requirements.  For me, the learning curve has been, and continues to be, steep with VMware NSX. But challenge accepted!

The main issue I faced in the exam was understanding what was expected.  It is difficult to explain without going into specifics and breaking NDA, so I wont.  But I think this is where my lack of networking experience lets me down. That’s nothing more experience and study wont fix though.

Am I ready to take VCAP Exams?

I believe there is a serious misconception when it comes to VCAP exams.  Yes, these are Advanced Professional Exams, but that doesn’t mean with enough experience and commitment, You cant pass them. It could be my 15 years in industry talking, but I don’t actually find them “difficult”.  I actually find the VCP exams more stressful because you have to memorise information that you may never actually ever use.  At least most of the content in a VCAP deploy exam is relevant.

Yes I don’t pass first time all the time, but that’s not necessarily because the exams are difficult, its because my knowledge or understand a particular topic isn’t as deep as It needs to be, but I take a chance and sometimes that pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.  When I don’t fully understand something, it doesn’t mean I can’t answer a question, it mean it takes more time to answer the question.  I depend on all of my experience and try and work through it with the help of the PDFs in the exam.  In the field, I don’t know the answer to every customer question or every issue that happens straight away.  In the field you can “phone a friend” or search for the answer.  The key difference is you have time.

VCAP Exam taking tips

Without giving anything away, my exam tips for all VCAP exams are as follow:

  • Time is not your friend, if you read a question and can answer it quickly, then do so.  If your not 100% sure on the answer move on.
  • Multi-Task – if you think a process is going to take a long time, start it off, mark the question number down and move on to the next question. Then go back to previous question and complete it later.
  • A lot of the questions rely on the fact you have completed a previous question – so watch out for that – especially if you have skipped a question.  Most questions like this do say “must have completed Question x to complete this question”.
  • Quickly try and understand what the question is asking you to do. Some of the terminology/phrasing is ambiguous (at best) so be prepared to make an informed decision. Procrastination cost time, so be decisive.
  • Only do what the question has asked for – You don’t get extra marks for doing something that is not asked for.
  • Identify the documentation that will be provided (from the blueprint) and if the procedure is a series of long/complicated CLI commands, then remember the page number rather than trying to remember the command verbatim.
  • The Blueprint is your friend – Study all the topics it.

What’s next?

In between working and holidays, it’s more study, more labbing and prepping for the re-take.  Hopefully, at the latest, that will be at VMworld.

If you’re are looking to start your journey with the VCAP6-NV exam, check out my Study Guide.

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