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Posted by on Jun 8, 2013 in Certification | 2 comments

VCAP5-DCA Preparation

As I am now in the preparation stage for the VCAP5-DCA exam, I wanted to take a few minutes to post the list of resources that I am using to prepare. Hopefully this will be of assistance to someone else out there also preparing for the same exam.

First, a few notes about the exam:

  • The time allotted for the exam is 225 minutes. Like the DCD exam, if you are taking this in a non-English speaking country, you are allowed an extra 30 minutes.
  • The Exam is 100% lab. There are no multiple choice or drag/drop questions, everything happens in a lab environment.
    • You will be given around 26 separate “questions,” and each question has a set of tasks that you must complete in the lab.
    • The lab environment is constant throughout the exam. This means that the environment you work in on question 1 is the same environment you will be working in on question 26. So if you do something silly like mess up a management interface on a host midway through the test, your only option is to end the exam and reschedule it. :)
      • Note that there will be no tasks on the exam that involve you making changes to the management interfaces.
  • Documentation will be made available during the exam, however please be aware that most people run right up to the end of the allotted time here. So if you have to spend time going through documentation to find the appropriate CLI commands to enable SNMP for instance, you will run out of time.
    • I would make it a point to know where things are in the documentation (IE which document, and section), before sitting the exam so that just in case you need to refer to it, you can find it quickly.
  • Because of the nature of the exam, it cannot be auto-corrected at the end. It must be manually graded by VMware. This means that it can take up to (and in some cases more than) 15 days to receive your results.
  • Putty will be made available for connecting to the hosts.
  • And one last tip, that I learned from the vBrownbag guys. Make sure you are using the vSphere client shortcut from the main exam launcher instead of from inside the vCenter VM. It is apparently far more responsive and redraws the screen much faster than from inside the RDP session. Remember that time is of the essence here.

That’s pretty much all I know about this exam as I have not yet actually sat for it. I will of course update this if needed after I actually take it.

Now on to study resources:

  • The exam blueprint is found here. Like all VMware exams, the blueprint is key. The exam will at least touch on each major topic in the blueprint. You will want to go through this to make sure you understand what you are expected to know for the exam.
  • has some excellent classes for this exam. I am going through the new vSphere Optimize and Scale course by Jason Nash. I will also be taking his advanced networking course. The Optimize and Scale course will cover every topic in the blueprint. I would also suggest going through the VMware vSphere PowerCLI course by Hal Rottenberg. This class is for version 4.1, but I learned a ton about PowerCLI in this class.
  •  Shane Williford has produced an excellent set of study notes here. He has even separated it out for CLI commands, and it covers everything in the blueprint.
  • Chris Wahl’s study sheet – found here – is just awesome. It is an editable PDF that allows you to go through each topic in the blueprint and check off if you have studied this topic, performed it in a lab with the CLI, and performed it using the GUI. By going through this exercise, you can confirm that you are comfortable with everything covered in the blueprint.

Aside from that, many of the materials I used for the DCD preparation are relevant here. Specifically the Mastering vSphere 5 book from Scott Lowe. I also think that Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman’s HA and DRS Technical Deep Dive book is an excellent resource.

And lastly, and this is not really something specific to this exam, but is just really cool. It’s something I believe all VMware Admins should have by their side: Download and print this awesome esxtop quick reference card.

That’s about it for now. More to come after I sit for this puppy.

Thanks for reading!



  1. Thanks much for the mention Paul. All the best to you & your readers in passing the #DCA!

    Shane (twitter: @coolsport00)

  2. Thanks for the excellent notes Shane! The document & page reference in your notes is a huge help!

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