After a moderate beta phase, the VCP4 exam officially went public at VMworld 2009. Late Wednesday evening after the VMworld party, I decided that since VMware was offering the VCP4 exam at the Moscone Center at a heavily discounted rate, I would give it a shot first thing Thursday morning in lieu of attending the morning sessions. Passing this exam was on my development objectives for 2009 (along with VCDX certification) and time is starting to run out. OK, to be completely honest, the number of tweets I had seen recently of those who passed the VCP4 exam at VMworld as well as the beta made me a bit jealous and filled me with both encouragement and confidence.
My normal approach to certification is reading books and lab time. Although I hadn’t studied for the exam or even looked at the blueprint (a swell recipe for failure, I personally wouldn’t recommend it), I have been using vSphere 4 quite a bit in my home lab over the past several months. I also attended the two day “What’s New” vSphere course via WebEx but I don’t believe it provided a lot value towards the VCP4 exam.
In addition, I studied for, sat, and passed the Enterprise exam a little over a month ago which in my opinion was quite a bit more difficult than the VCP3 exam. Technically speaking, the Enterprise exam covers VI3 and not vSphere, but conceptually there is still plenty of overlap between VI3 and vSphere 4
Lastly, I had been toying with and troubleshooting the vSphere virtual infrastructure that VCDX #7 Duncan Epping provided attendees at the vExpert booth in the VMworld 2009 Solutions Exchange. As luck would have it, some of the things I was working on applied to the VCP4 exam and were fresh in my mind.
I passed the exam with a score of 350 out of a possible 500. A score of 300 or better is required to pass the exam and a score of 350 is required to be eligible for VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) status. This appears to be the same new grading curve used in the Enterprise exam and I imagine the Design exam for VCDX candidates (I have not sat the Design exam yet so I’m not 100% certain on that).
In a word, my experience was that I found the exam to be fair. 85 questions. 90 minutes. All multiple choice/multiple select, a few with exhibits. No interactive/hands-on/live lab scenarios although I would have preferred them. In comparison it was a degree tougher than the VCP3 exam. I attribute that to the fact that the vSphere content is new and I hadn’t properly prepared. Special thanks to the candidate who blurted on his way out of the exam room as I was walking in “This exam is REALLY HARD – definitely NO JOKE”. You made me feel as if I had just kissed $105 goodbye.
As with the Enterprise exam, I found time to be a threat as I was left with only three minutes to review about 20 questions I had marked. Poor exam time management seems to be a recurring theme with me lately where it wasn’t in my earlier years. I’m not sure if the exams are getting harder or I’m just getting slower in my old age. Probably a combination of both. Lately I tend to go into deep thought for a number of minutes on some questions. Instead, I should recognize that if the answer doesn’t come to me within 10 seconds, I should quickly choose the best answer, mark the question, and move on. I think the dilemma becomes that sometimes there is more than one best answer and that’s where I end back up in the deep thought.
For passing the exam, VMware gave me an additional VMworld pin, a “VCP4 certified” baseball cap, and flashy VCP battery powered glasses which my 3 year old daughter absolutely loves. Thank you VMware.
Update 10/5/09: VCI pass mark is 350, not 400. This has been corrected in the paragraph above.