Man….let me tell ya….I’m so happy to say that the “Road to VCAP6-NV” is complete! I passed my exam at VMworld 2018! Back in Oct 2017, I began my “Road to VCAP6-NV” series with the intent of giving myself a reference point to take my notes as I studied for the exam and also something that could be useful to the community. Well that work paid off!
How I Prepared
For me, having my home lab was essential to helping me in my studies. It allowed me to build a NSX environment from the ground up and to really take my time and dive deep into each feature one by one. The VMware HOLs are great but its nothing like coming back days later and picking right back up where you left off. I did however use the VMware HOLs to get myself familiar with the interface that would be used for the exam. I’m glad I did that because it really came in handy.
Blogging the blueprint really helped a lot of the objectives stick in my mind. When you are putting content out to the world, you want to make sure that the information is accurate. That caused me to really grasp the understanding of what I was doing when it came to following the exam blueprint. I was able to read about it, set it up in my lab, and then go back and explain to the world what I had just done. That process and repetition helped.
I also took advantage of a great community resource. Joshua Andrews has a VCIX6-NV Practice Exam that utilizes the VMware HOLs that will give you an idea of how the questions are formatted on the exam. Its a great test run to check your knowledge and also give you a chance to get familiar with navigating within the lab environment.
I also have to thank some individuals in the vCommunity that allowed me to pick their brains when it came to NSX and their experience with this exam or for just giving moral support:
- Chris Stallworth
- Daniel Paluszek
- Stalin Pena
- Tim Davis
- Stephen Owens
Exam Experience and Tips
My exam experience didn’t start off too good. I had to switch workstations three times before I finally got on a computer that would pull up the exam! The actual testing lab was overcrowded and the workstation area was cramped. It just barely fit the mouse and keyboard in the given space. So while taking the test, I would constantly have to pick the mouse up and down in order to navigate across the screen or I would have to push the keyboard under the monitor in order to move the mouse around freely. Enough about the crappy testing center….
This test is no JOKE! It’s easily the most difficult test that I’ve taken. It will frustrate you at times if you let it and you will be in a fight for time from the very beginning. Some of the questions are very lengthy with a lot of details, so make sure you read them carefully. There are also situations where if you don’t complete a task from one question, it can affect you in another question so be sure to try to complete as much of each question as possible. Try not to spend too much time on any particular question. There was a time during the exam that I ran into a issue and as hard as it was for me at the time to move forward to the next question, I’m glad I did, because the next 3 questions were very simple tasks that I could’ve possibly never got to and missed out on easy points. At least give yourself a chance to see every question on the test and knock out those easy ones quick and go back to the ones that you didn’t finish initially. I was able to at least get something done on every question, even if I didn’t get all of the tasks completed. Didn’t I mention that time is not your friend on this test?! I used every second of the 205 minutes and I still could have used another 30 minutes. Another thing I will say is, the blueprint is absolutely the guide you need to follow in preparing for this exam. Stick close to the blueprint and know how to quickly and efficiently do each task on it and you should be fine on the exam. Chances are, you will see just about everything from the blueprint in some way, form, or fashion.
All in all, the exam was tough but fair. I’m glad that I pushed myself to dive deeper into NSX. I’ve learned a ton and I see the real value in doing so. Also, it meant a lot to me to get feedback from members of the VMware community that told me that my study guide helped them in their studies. So what’s next? I’m not sure yet but I do know in the future I want to work toward my VCAPs for Data Center Virtualization and possibly for Cloud Management and Automation. But immediately, what’s next is some R&R (Rest & Relaxation). I need to give my brain a little break from all the studying and reading and give back some of that time to myself and my family.