Thursday, August 19, 2010

Preparing for the VMware Certified Professional Exam

The VMware Certified Professional Exam (VCP)  is one of the hottest and also one of the hardest certifications to get in the IT industry today.  I'm always impressed when I see that 80% of the students in my classes are looking at VCP certification.  I am always being asked how to prepare for the VCP certification, so I thought I'd share some perspective.

Ways to Study
It's important you put together a good game plan for studying the test.  The key is to find a method that works for you.
  • A source that I really like is to use Flashcards Deluxe and
    • Flashcards Deluxe - an app you can download on your iPhone, Blackberry, etc.  You can download flash cards from different sites directly into the app.  You can also build your own study cards that you can download into the app.  Download prebuilt flashcards on vSphere from Quizlet.
    •  - a great source for flash cards.  There are a number of prebuilt flash cards for studying vSphere 4, like the Configuration Maximums Guide.
  • There are products like Garage Band on Mac and lots of free software for audio recording.  A number of candidates have found success by using their audio recordings while driving to work, being on the bus/train or riding a stationary bike or elliptical.
Things you need to study
  • Configuration Maximums Guide:  You need to understand limits.
  • VMware ICM 4.1 Class: Unless you are getting a lot of hands on work and mentoring in your job, you've got to take the VMware ICM 4.1 class.  There is just to much topic matter to learn on your own.
  • Additional Books: Mastering VMware vSphere 4, VCP VMware Certified Professional Study Guide , Maximum vSphere and the Sybex VCP Study Guide are excellent complements to the VMware courseware.  There are other excellent books out there, go through them and find the one that is right for you.   I am not trying to recommend or not recommend any books.
  • Hands on Practice: You've got to find a way to get hands on practice.  You can install the ESXi 4.1 server on a host based system like VMware Fusion (Mac OS) or VMWare Workstation.  You're going to want an extra 4GB of memory but that's more cost effective than buying the hardware to create a test environment.
  • VMware Documentation: You need to use the VMware documentation as reference materials.
Here is the URL you need to use to find the main documentation set to get you started:
Once you feel you have a solid foundation you can start prepping for the VCP exam.  You absolutely need to follow the Exam Blueprint Guide.  This guide will help you focus on the right areas.

Avoid Common Test-Taking Mistakes
Don't make common test-taking mistakes on the exam.  Candidates typically miss 5 - 10 questions on the test due to not reading the questions carefully.  First of all, read the question carefully.  Then do the following before selecting an answer(s). 
  • Make sure you understand what type of question it is and what the question is looking for.
  • Check to see if the question is looking for two, three or multiple answers.
  • Read all the answers before making your selection.
  • Eliminate all obvious wrong answers.
  • Are there words like "all that apply" or "all that do not apply" or "All of the above" or "None of the Above".  Don't let the way the question is written lead you astray.

Pearson VUE
When you are ready to take the test, the VMware Certified Professional exam is administered by Pearson VUE.  Pearson VUE has over 3500 authorized testing centers worldwide.  To register visit and select the VCP4 Certification Exam. The exam code is VCP410.

Good luck!  :)

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