Passed VCP4 and VCP5 Exams, Study Tips and Thoughts

What a month this has been so far… 3 exams, 2 passed! Yes, I passed both VCP4 and VCP5 exams in span of about last 11 days. I took training back in August 2010 in order to take the VCP4 exam, I’ve blogged about that experience here. The training is required for the exam but in my opinion, it does not prepare you for the exam well enough. The exam is designed to test how well you can avoid being tricked as there are many tricky questions (I hope, I am not breaking any NDA with that statement). I tried for the VCP4 exam in 2010 and 2011 but did not make it for number of reasons. I didn’t take the exam seriously, moreover, due to work, family and other projects, I could not devote more time to studying and frankly did not read majority of the vSphere 4 documentation.

Fast Forward to January 2012 and Vmware announced deadline for VCP4 and that you must RETAKE training course in order to take the VCP5 exam. That was UNACCEPTABLE. Frankly, in my opinion, Vmware announced the date prematurely but it doesn’t matter now that I’ve cleared both exams. So, I made it a mission to go through the official documents for VCP4 and read the Mastering vSphere 4 book by Scott Lowe, again! I gave the exam early February but failed… I guess, I missed a couple of questions as score was close. I went back to studying and gave the test again and this time I was successful. That was such a confidence booster that I scheduled the VCP5 exam 8 days after the VCP4 and I am glad I passed it the first time. I guess taking a beating and failing an exam a couple of times makes you good at stuff you are suppose to know for the exam?

Tips for passing

  • Study the Official VMware Manuals documents
    Now that VCP4 is gone, VCP5 documentation is much better and organized (it could be better though) so just go through each one of those a couple of times and there is no way you can fail (provided that you remember important details from those documents).
  • Pay attention to the “Note: or bullets” in the official documents. That stuff is important. I like to write stuff down on paper if I feel its important, helps me remember otherwise its hard to recall.
  • I have a great virtualization lab at home and I used it every step of the way! I retired my existing lab servers and got a couple of great Dell PowerEdge 1950 IIIs. I will write more about that later this week or next. In addition to home lab, I work with this stuff at work as well so that is always helpful with some real world scenarios but every environment has its own real world as compared to the real world that Vmware imagines in the exam. 🙂
  • I bought the Mastering vSphere 4 and Mastering vSphere 5 books by Scott Lowe. GREAT Books. Go through them at least ONCE ( i read the version 4 twice and 5 just once). Scott provides a lot of ideas and information so even if you fail (hope not) you still get away with great info and ideas.
  • Another book which I thought was very useful but extremely technical was the VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS Technical deepdive by Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman – Its a good book if you feel like knowing how HA and DRS work from a very technical point of view. I have and read that as well, just once though.
  • I used Simon Long’s notes/practice exam as well as Forbes Guthrie’s notes on vsphere 4 and vsphere 5. Thanks guys!
  • I am not a big fan of video based training, it doesn’t help me but if you are then David Davis/TrainSignal make some good training videos on Vmware vSphere products. I must have watched whatever they have available for free thats about it.
  • The Vmware mock exam is helpful for some but I think its a joke. If you want to spend hour or so thats okay but I wouldn’t waste too much time on it. The mock exam doesn’t have questions as close to the real exam as possible, the answer explanation are poor or non existent.. its just poor over all.
  • READ each question on the exam a couple of times before answering it. It becomes must clearer. If there is time, try to break it up in parts…


That is it from me. I am glad to be VCP4 and VCP5 and wish you good luck if you plan on taking your exam soon. If you have any tips, questions or comments, please share with me or post in our Virtualization Community Forums.