How to pass the VCP6-DCV exam

First off, a bit about who I am and my history before I deep dive into how to study for the VCP. I’m a VMware Certified Instructor and have been teaching official VMware classes for over 6 years now. One of the most common things that I get asked during my classes is what are the best resources to study for these exams? Simply put, there is no right answer. Each person is going to require different methods. However, there are a few resources that help far more than others. Let’s start off by listing the VCP requirements, what you’ll need to into the exam and then I’ll explain the best study resources out there.

VCP6-DCV study guide from Altaro

Before we get started if you’re new to IT or you’re looking to boost your career prospects in the industry you will need certifications. Find out all about VMware certifications in our upcoming webinar Fast Track your IT Career with VMware Certifications on November 20th, 2019. It’s completely free to register and in addition to the great content on offer, we will be giving a VMware VCP certification course and exam (worth $4500!) out to one webinar attendee!


Register now to save your seat and enter the VMware VCP Giveaway

Requirements For Sitting The VCP6-DCV Exam

VMware has a few requirements you must obtain before you sit the exam.

  1. Gain experience with vSphere 6 (minimum 6 months recommended)
  2. Attend one of the required training courses. (Install, Configure, Manage and the Optimize and Scale classes are the most popular)
  3. Complete the vSphere 6 Foundations Exam or vSphere 6.5 Foundations Exam
  4. Complete the VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Exam

Gaining The Necessary Experience

Now one of the common pitfalls I see is students taking the class with 6 months of vSphere experience and thinking that’s enough to get them through without studying. Is it possible? Well, in theory, yes but the problem is that you most probably will not be using the product to its fullest. There are going to be features you’ll be asked about in the exam that you have not used or possibly not licensed for. To get around this, one of the best things you can do is to build yourself a home lab so you can experiment to your heart’s content. I’ve outlined a few build details in my “How to build a vSphere Home Lab” post so I’ll skip those details here.

The next thing I’ll inevitably be asked is, how are YOU licensing your lab? I am lucky and incredibly happy to say I am a part of the VMware vExpert program. Since 2012, I’ve been a vExpert and as part of that program, VMware gives each vExpert Enterprise Plus license keys for a ton of products, so that’s what my home lab runs on. However, if you’re not a vExpert, the other option is to purchase VMUG EvalExperience. VMware’s EVALExperience gives you access to 365-day evaluation licenses for a selection of VMware solutions, for personal use in a non-production environment for $200 USD/yr. So things like vCenter, ESXi, vRealize, Horizon, vSAN can be used to their full potential. It’s definitely worth it! In addition to that, you also get a discount on exams, training classes and VMworld conference passes.

You can also use the free VMware Hand On Labs. It typically times out after a couple hours but generally is decent enough that you can practice and get to know the product in there. Is it a replacement for a proper home lab? Definitely not, but it’ll get you familiar with the basics.

Required Courses For The VCP6-DCV Exam

Once you have your home lab in place, you’ll have to fulfill the course requirement. Generally, if you have little to no experience with the product, I’d recommend that you take the Install, Configure, Manage course. If you have prior experience, you should take the Optimize and Scale course. They both fulfill the exam requirements but cater to different skill sets. You can schedule the exams through any authorized training provider or VMware directly.

Recommended Books

Ok, so now you’ve taken the required classes but you still want a book that you can snuggle up with. Side note about myself: although I love virtualization, I still enjoy reading a good physical book. You know, the ones made out of actual paper. Maybe I’m the only person who does that these days, but I feel that I study better when I just totally zone out! Yea, you can use a tablet and an ebook app but I still like printed books. Below is a list of some of my favorites.

  • vSphere 6 Foundations Exam Official Cert Guide (Exam #2V0-620) This book is based on the actual exam blueprint (expand the “Exam Topics” section) for the Foundations exam. The important thing about studying the blueprint: if it’s not on the blueprint, it’s not going to be in the exam.

  • VCP6-DCV Official Cert Guide (Exam #2V0-621) Again, this book is for the actual VCP-DCV exam. It also is based on the official exam blueprint.

  • Mastering vSphere 6 This is an overall great everyday reference guide. I tell my students that if you’re NOT going for certification this is still a great book to pick up.

  • VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive This book was just recently added to my “must have” books list. It is fresh off the press and covers a ton of information in regards to host resources. The best part of this book is its ability to get its readers to take up the troubleshooting mindset. That’s the key to success on the VMware exams. You’ll rarely see an obvious 2+2=4 type question, rather you’ll have to think about problems and troubleshoot them.

VCP6-DCV Study Guides

  • Shane Williford has created a pretty good VCP6-Study-Guide
  • Josh Coen and Jason Langer have written another great VCP6 exam study guide here
  • Florian Grehl has a study guide based on the new items in vSphere 6. So for those of you who have worked with the product before and want the new stuff, this is a great place to start
  • The vBrownBag Series of posts located here is another great resource to use for your exam prep

Exam Tips

Eat a good lunch or breakfast. Cliche to say that I know, but a hungry belly in the middle of an exam can seriously affect your ability to think properly and your grade will suffer. Be prepared to move quickly during the exam because you have to! If you do the math, you will get on average about 1.5 minutes per question. On some questions, that amount of time will be plenty and you can move forward. Others will take more time. That’s why it’s so important to have experience with the products. The people who don’t have a good amount of experience under their belt will have to spend more time thinking about the questions and will need far more time. It’s not so much that they don’t know the content; they are just having a hard time putting it into a real-world scenario that they can relate with. There is no substitute for experience in this regard. If you don’t know an answer, mark it and come back to it but DO NOT sit and think about it for 5-10 minutes. That will not end well. I know because the first time I took the VCP over 10 years ago, I spent way too much time doing that.

Take the VMware practice exams. 2v0-621 Practice Exam and vSphere 6 Foundations Practice Exam. They are a great resource for seeing how VMware likes to ask questions.

I hope this helps and good luck on your exams!

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