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VMware Certified Professional Delta Exam

This weekend I had the opportunity to take the VMware Certified Professional Delta exam (VCP550D) to renew my VCP5-DCV certification for another two years.  I wanted to share my thoughts on this exam specifically as well as the future of online exams.

I’ll echo what I’ve read from other folks regarding this exam in that you need to know more than just what has changed between vSphere 5.x and 5.5.  Be prepared to answer questions about vCOPs and VSAN and possibly others too.  The exam still feels like a regular VCP exam so if you’ve taken those already you should be familiar with the format, but expect that some questions may fall outside of vSphere specifically.

There are 65 questions in 75 minutes so you don’t have a lot of time to give each of the questions a lot of thought.  You’ll need to go in with a good working knowledge of vSphere to have a shot at passing this.  Luckily only people with a current VCP can take this exam so most will already have good experience.

My advice if you haven’t already taken the exam

  • VMware has a 7 day retake policy so make sure you take the exam at least 7 days prior to March 10th, 2015.  That gives you a shot at taking it again in case things don’t go well.
  • Make sure to read the exam blueprint (opens a PDF) to see what might be asked of you.
  • Take the practice exam on VMware’s website to get you in the right mindset but make sure you get at least one wrong on purpose.  Once you get 100% it will never let you take it again.  Side note: this is why I can still take the VCP3 (VI3) practice exam.

Online exam

The other obviously different aspect of this exam is that you can take it online from the comfort of your web browser.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from that but once the exam started it felt very much like I was sitting in a testing center (look and feel), except that the performance was significantly better.  Most of the testing centers I’ve used have very old computers and it can take a little while moving between questions.  The performance was great it was really comfortable taking the exam like this.

You might ask the obvious question – doesn’t this make it easier to cheat?  Can’t you just keep another browser window open and search Google for the answers? My thought on that: I dare you to try.  My exam had 65 questions in 75 minutes, barely giving you more than 1 minute per question.  If the questions were simply “What is the maximum number of virtual machines per ESXi host” type questions then you might be able to do that but that wasn’t what the exam looked like.  What you end up with are scenario type questions that take time just to read the question, which would make it all but impossible to try to search the Internet for the answers.  If you tried that you would very likely run out of time.

That brings me to my thoughts on taking exams like this in general.  I ‘d love to see this become the standard of how tests are delivered in the future.  I think it should be easy enough to make it too hard for people to cheat by using scenario type questions, though I admit it would be difficult to prevent a bunch of people from sitting around a computer and taking the test together.  For that I think we need to rely on people being honest, which sadly is why I doubt we’ll see this actually end up as the future of the way certification exams are delivered.

Wrap-up

The good news (for me) is that I passed the exam so my VCP is now good until 2017.  I thought overall the exam was similar to other VCP exams I’ve taken in the past, and delivering it online made it much more convenient for me to take it.  Proof of that is I was able to take the exam on a Saturday afternoon instead of having to lose hours during the work day to drive to a testing center.

Good luck to anyone who is still planning on taking the exam!

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