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VMware Certified Professional (VCP5) Certification Study Tips & Advice

GoCertify: The VCP5 certification requirements include a training requirement that students attend an authorized course. How does your book fit in with that requirement? Any tips on the most frugal way to get the required training?

Bill Ferguson: It is true that students must attend an authorized course taught by a VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) in order to obtain their certification. In that course, which I have taught well over 100 times (VCP3, 4, and 5), students are taught the basics of many of the technologies that are covered on the exam, but not all of them. The classroom (in person or online) is a great place to learn from the instructor and from the other students. There are strengths in regard to the classroom learning experience, such as vicarious learning from the other students and supervised lab activity, but there are also weaknesses.

The course lasts throughout the week and a lot can happen in the life of that student in a week. A sick child or other family emergency might pull a student's attention away from the class, and with good reason. Those types of priorities cannot be ignored just because a person is in a certification class. In addition, some employers won't leave the student alone even though they know about the class. They expect them to do their job 24/7 and work the class into their "spare time!" The result is that some students may come out of class at the end of the week feeling as if they missed a key component and will have to go back over everything and find that piece of information before they will be comfortable taking the test. I've even had some students tell me on Friday that they wish we could just go back over everything one more time!

That's where this book comes in. I've written this book directly to the test blueprint, so that it covers all of the topics that the students/readers must learn to pass the VCP510 test. The VCP510 blueprint is valid until the next major revision of the software. vSphere 5.1 is not a major revision, so the VCP510 blueprint is still good for the VCP510 test even though vSphere 5.1 will soon be introduced to the market.

The Official VCP5 Certification Guide is like a one-on-one with the instructor that can be read and experienced prior to attending class, but is probably more likely to be reviewed after the class is over. I have peppered it with activities and review questions to assist the reader in growing their knowledge and confidence. In addition, I have written hundreds of tricky-but-not-trick questions that are just like the kind they might find on the VCP510 test. With the Premium edition of the book, these are loaded on a very nice test engine so they can practice, practice, practice. The end result is that they will get to "go back over everything one more time!"

GoCertify: Are there additional self-study resources you recommend to people preparing for VCP5 certification?

Bill Ferguson: I highly recommend the pdfs and other documentation that can be found throughout the VMware support sites such as the VMware support page and the vSphere 5 Documentation Center. Even if the test questions were to end up with the same wording as the documentation, there wouldn't be anything improper about that; it would just be getting it straight from the source.

Also, they should use the mock exams on as a litmus test to see how well they are doing and what else they need to learn. Those tests often have questions that were written by the same people who wrote the current one and some have been on the test in the past, but then retired off of it. Tip: Always miss one question in the mock exam on purpose so as to never get 100%, because once somone gets a score of 100%, they will not be allowed to take the mock exam anymore with the same MyLearn ID.

GoCertify: Once someone achieves VMware VCP5 certification, is there a natural next step as far as credentialing?

Bill Ferguson: Yes and No. There are actually several potential next steps depending on the person's interests and on what they feel is best for their situation. The next certification level is VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) and there are a few ways to go with that as well; such as Design, Administrator, or even Cloud. In addition, there are other "old" and new Cloud certifications that may be handy to have if they are in competition with someone for a Cloud project in their company. They can view the new Certification Roadmap on VMware's certification site. There will be plenty to keep them busy, once they have the VCP under their belt.

GoCertify: Do you have any other advice you would like to share with individuals considering VCP5 certification?

Bill Ferguson: In observing all of the certification tests from VMware over the years, I've noticed that the questions fall into five general categories. I firmly believe that if a reader/student will concentrate on these five categories, they will do much better on the test. Using these categories allows a person to focus on what is important for the test and spend less time on what is not important. The five categories are as follows:

  1. Configuration maximums (for anything)
  2. Any new feature on vSphere 5.0
  3. Ports (they love ports)
  4. Tables (anything that you find in a table)
  5. Dialog boxes (spend time so that you know what's on each dialog box in the GUI tools of vSphere… and what's not on them)

Finally, if you are serious about passing the exam and you don't have it scheduled already, what are you waiting for… schedule the test now!

Bill Ferguson, VCI5, VCP5, CCSI, and MCT has been in the computer industry for more than 20 years and a technical trainer since 1997. He's currently running his own company, Parallel Connections.