My VCA experience

When a friend sent me a link to the offical VMware Certified Associate (VCA) site shortly after release I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed.  I think my official response back to him was ‘meh’.   You had this exam track that you could take online, at home.  What challenge is that?!?  It looked like a cert targeted at the virtualization sales consultant.  But then came October and I strangely changed my opinion.  VMware had a few offers on table, when combined, allowed you to sit the exam for free.  How could you refuse!

I heard about the offers mid October and was already in the middle of unrelated study with some tight deadlines.  Never the less on the following quiet Friday after work I sat down and read through the blueprint of the VCA -- Data Center Virtualization exam.  It all looked very straight-forward.  Watch a 2.5 hour training course and a handful of short PDF {marketing} documents.  I think I got about 20 minutes into the fundamentals training video and skipped to the end.  The plan prior was to study and take the exam on Sunday.  Being free, though, I thought what the hell and just sat the exam right there and then.  75 minutes and 50 questions to answer.  It took me 35-40 minutes to complete the exam.  I scored somewhere around 430.  There was some satisfaction but I was really searching for it.  The questions held no real technical depth.  It was really more around knowing the concepts and basic vSphere terminology.

So confident I was, a few days later (Sunday), I sat the VCA Cloud exam.  Out of the three Certification tracks VMware have, Cloud is no doubt my weakest one.  Never the less I applied my same logic from the VCA-DCV --It’s a free exam and I can always take it again.  A few questions into the exam and I new I was in trouble.  Against better judgement I opened up a browser window and started searching for answers.  Great, I was starting to find the answers now.  But time was against me.  I couldn’t find the answers fast enough.  I finished the exam with 5 minutes left and wasn’t feeling confident.  I failed with a 298.  What are the odds that I failed by 2 points.  Pretty good if you search the net.  People always fail by 1, 2, or 3 points.

Feeling embarrassed I went to bed to rethink my VCA-Cloud tactics.  The following Friday night I pulled up the Cloud blueprint.  Took the 3 hour course video and read through the PDF documents referenced in the blueprint.  Saturday morning, I woke up, opened up a browser full of tabs on VMware Cloud material and sat the exam.  This time the answers came much easier to me.  With no need to reference any online material, bar one question, I completed the exam in 40 minutes with a score of 485.  With a little more satisfaction and much needed vindication I tried to find some pride in the score.  Not bad for one nights study.  Though we’ll ignore the fact that more than half the questions were the same as my first attempt.

Time was against me in the month of October and I wasn’t able to sit the third VCA-WM end user (Desktop) exam.  The multiple discount codes to sit the VCA exams for free have now ended.  One VMware offer still exists till the end of the year to sit the exams for half price.  Normally $120 US  you can sit it for $60.  I have to admit my interest to pay (only) $60 to sit a VCA isn’t really there.  My only motivation is really to just get that Hat-Trick.

In a recent VMware Communities Roundtable podcast with John Arrasjid (@vcdx001), they spoke about the VCA track.  It was an interesting podcast that helped answer a lot of questions I had around the VCA track.  They spoke about the objective of the VCA track.  Its intended target audience.  Why it was chosen to be an ‘Open Book’ exam.  Oddly it didn’t even occur to me that it was expect you would search for the answers online during the exam.

While my criticism of the VCA track has somewhat diminished I still have my doubts on it’s validity in the community.  I was a little worried about being so negative in the post.  But the truth is these are just my opinions and I just needed to get it out there.

vca_certs

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