The VMware® Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization exam (VCP6-DCV) is one of the most popular and most difficult professional exams offered by VMware. It’s also one of the most valuable datacenter qualifications an engineer can gain. It takes time and dedication, and a concrete studying plan that you can hold yourself to, in order to pass.
I recently took and passed this exam. For me, the studying process for the exam this was separated into three stages, all time-based and planned in advance:
- Follow the official VMware Requirements leading up to the exam.
- Gain additional theoretical knowledge and practical experience.
- Hit the books! Spend time preparing for the exams.
In this article, I will share my thoughts on these three stages to help you achieve your best results in an optimal time frame.
STAGE 1: Follow the official VMware Requirements for VCP6
As described in the link above, this stage is most appropriate for people who are new to VMware and vSphere® 6. From the many required courses, VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [V6] is a good option, as it is relevant to Advanced Professional exams, and the price is lowest.
The version of the course I took was five days long. In my opinion, five days is enough time to complete the course, but it is not enough practice or experience to pass any of the exams. The course is taught with two books – a Student Lecturer Manual and a Student Lab Manual. Read the first carefully from A-Z, and complete all of the labs with a trainer available to answer your questions and provide feedback.
During the course, stay focused on the labs. Labs are available only during the course – you must complete the labs during the five-day course duration. The Student Lecturer Manual is great, but provides only the minimum. There are 12 modules in it, and each module can be completed in one day, which means you will need about 12 days to complete the book.
After the course comes work on the Foundations exam topics for exam numbers 2V0-620 and 2V0-621. I would budget a day per Section, so that means 7 days for 2V0-620 and 10 days for 2V0-621. Note that the Data Center Virtualization Exam (2V0-621) suggests training under “How to Prepare,” but it comes at an additional cost.
It is very important to carefully read the official documentation from VMware during preparation for each section.
Budget 34 days to complete STAGE 1.
STAGE 2: Gain additional theoretical knowledge and practical experience.
To gain additional theoretical knowledge, I recommend two books: Mastering vSphere 6 by Nick Marshal , which took me 14 days to complete, and VMWare vCenter Cookbook by Konstantin Kuminsky which took about 7 days to complete.
To gain more practical experience, install VMware Workstation™ and deploy ESXi 6 hypervisor and vCenter Server® as appliances. Practice esxcli commands, user interface interactions, and all topics in Student Lab Manual, etc. Plan to spend about 10 days practicing and getting more familiar with the platform.
If you work in cloud computing and interact with VMware on a daily basis, you definitely have an advantage here. My practical experience on NaviSite’s infrastructure during working hours helped immensely; if you can incorporate practical experience for the exam into your work day, I highly recommend it.
Budget 31 days to complete STAGE 2.
STAGE 3: Hit the books!
The goal in STAGE 3 is to pass the Practice exam, but also to study the questions and get familiar with the question format. I recommend saving a screenshot for each question with the correct answer. Some of the questions appear on the real exam
After completing the Practice exam, work on the exam questions. The questions are available from many companies – Pass4Sure, Prep4Sure, Certkiller, Actual Tests, Gratis Exam and many others. I found that some of the questions overlap and some are unique to the vendor, so having as much as is available on the Internet is the best strategy.
When I took the test, the exam questions from Actual Tests v6 and v6.2 were relevant, but the question set may change over time. I separated the questions per topic in an additional spreadsheet, to see how many questions appear per exam topic – ESXi, networking, storage, administration etc. I have attached my spreadsheet too.
There is no time limit to learn the questions, but the goal is to complete all questions with no errors. You should be prepared to answer all 173 questions for 2V0-620, and all 240 questions for 2V0-621 in 90 minutes or less before you take the exam.
Taking the exam online gives an opportunity to capture a screenshot for each question. 2V0-620 has a 90-minute time limit for 65 questions. Screenshots can show you your weak spots – questions appear in different format, choices appear in different order, new questions are available, and you can work on decreasing the time spent on each question. This is really helpful to prepare for the 2V0-621, which has a 90-minute time limit for 85 questions.
I had 5-6 new questions for 2V0-620 and 2-3 for 2V0-621. Every new question requires more attention and time. The questions on both exam are of the same complexity, so don’t underestimate the Foundations exam.
A well prepared student can take and pass 2V0-621 in much less than 90min – 25-30 min can be achieved.
Budget 3-21 days to complete STAGE 3.
Good luck on your VCP6-DCV exam! Feel free to share your own studying tips or other strategies you found useful.
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