VCAP-DTD Exam Experience

By | November 1, 2013

Yesterday, I sat the VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Desktop Design exam, and I’m pleased to say I passed!


I originally took a shot at this exam in San Francisco, with the 75% discount, it was too good an offer to refuse really. Admittedly, this approach gave me nowhere near the amount of time to study and prepare for such a tough test.  With all the activities at VMworld going on, plus the 8hr time difference (I’m from the UK), information overload during the week with all the goodness VMworld brings, I struggled to focus for the 195 mins and comprehend some of the challenging questions.  Mentally I was quite drained at the end of the week, but that was no excuse.

Although I gave it a good shot, I was short of the passing mark and that was probably a good thing, as I stepped away and thought, where do I need to improve, what can I do differently in my approach\strategy?  Ultimately, this forces you to up your game, level, skills and knowledge, which no one can argue against.  You just have to be motivated and prepared to get stuck back into the study, and set aside a numbers of hours and make a few sacrifices along the way.  For me personally, if I achieve my goal, those sacrifices are worth it.

Back to the exam, which follows the same format as the VCAP-DCD, in terms of questions – multi-choice, drag and drop, and design (visio) style.  There’s 115 questions to answer, with 195 minutes available.  If you’ve taken the VCAP-DCD exam, then you may think how is this possible with the extra questions and reduction in time?  I was thinking the same, but most of the multi-choice questions are not as long winded as the DCD questions.  So that’s my first tip!

Again time management is critical to passing the exam!  I thought I was progressing well through the exam, answering confidently on the multi-choice questions, given I couldn’t afford to read every word of the question and take time to digest everything. Your mileage may vary! I had to skim read most questions, and go with the answer(s) I felt most suited to the question.  You can always rule out one or two answers with your knowledge, to help narrow the choice.

You’ll be tested heavily on storage, as this plays a vital role in the success of a View design. A calculator is provided, which certainly helps, given the time constraints of the exam.  I’m confident in my maths and ability to work through the various calculations on the provided writing materials, but with the time element and pressure to keep moving through the exam at pace, it’s very challenging and can become overwhelming.  If the calculations and numbers come naturally from experience on multiple View designs, I’m sure this can be handled more effectively.


  • Know how to size environments of all sizes, from small to large deployments.
  • Know how to size specifics of design, such as the vSphere infrastructure (hosts, clusters) and storage (datastores) from raw, basic numbers.  Know how to take these numbers, use the various calculations, and size the appropriate solution.
  • Brush up on the various calculations and formulas required for sizing
  • Understand the maximums for View and vSphere. There’s a document I put together for this in my study pack below.
  • ThinApp is heavily tested, use the provided resources from the blueprint, and cover all the detail.
  • If you’ve attended the View Design Best Practices course, review the course materials (manual and lab), a couple of times.
  • Practice some mock designs, different scenarios of all sizes, such as 1000 users, 2500 and 6000 etc. Practice the design diagrams on a whiteboard or paper. I’ll be adding some mock designs I used for my preparation soon.  Stay tuned!
  • As you work through some of the longer questions, write down key information or requirements to summarise the questions and give yourself a good starting point.
  • From a personal point of view, get a good sleep the night before, with plenty of rest going into the exam.  Try not to overload your brain with huge study the day before (unless you can handle it). I also loaded myself with some pasta, energy gel and chocolate before going into the exam!

You can view and download my VCAP-DTD specific ‘Study Pack’ from here

You can view my list of Study Resources for the exam here, including other blog exam experiences.

Good luck with your study!

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