VMware Certified Professional 5 (VCP5) – Exam experience

After I attended one of the first VMware vSphere: Install, Configure & Manage [V5.0] courses in Europe last summer, I wanted to take the VCP5 exam as fast as possible. Some unanticipated events unfortunately prevented me from my plan (got really ill over months, moved into a new apartment etc.).

Last week I decided to just sign me in via pearsonVUE before finding another reason to delay the exam 🙂

Today I had my appointment and passed the exam and just wanted to write down my exam experience and how I did prepare.

I had the earliest appointment at 08:30, which was available at the test center located next to me. Before you can start the exam you need to sign the exam policies and a picture of you is taken. Also your identification card and a second valid card (driving license etc.) with your sign are checked. So make sure you have this with you and it is not expired! You are not allowed to take anything with you into the test room, but I got offered a locker to put my mobile phone, wallet etc. into.

Before the exam starts you need to answer a 8 question survey, which have no effect to the exam itself. In my case as a non-native English speaker I got additional 30 minutes, so I had totally 120 minutes to complete the exam. That was much more than I needed. I was finished after around 60 minutes. After you answered all 85 questions you get the option to review all your answers. Questions you marked as “review later” are highlighted. I skipped the whole review thing because often in reviews you changing correct answers into wrong ones 🙂 Directly after you click “Finish exam” you get a screen which shows you your score and if you passed / failed.

I think time shouldn´t be a problem at this exam, even without the 30 minutes extra. Many questions only filled one line and the answers just some words, so you need just seconds to read the whole question & answers. Still you should make sure to read every word, because some questions may contain words like “no” or “not” which totally chances the whole question. Of course there have been also some more complex questions, where a scenario is described or a screenshot is shown, but short questions had been in the majority. I am not allowed to tell any details because of the NDA you need to confirm on the beginning.

Overall the exam was challenging but also manageable with the requested know-how. I am really curious about the new VCAP exams, which hopefully gets released soon.

My preparation was “only” to check the exam blue print to find out which objects I needed to have a closer look at, because I am not using it during my daily work (example: vDR & VSA). On this objects I read specific parts of the manuals or did a bit of testing in my lab at home. I thought that should be enough, because I work really intensive with vSphere & Co. every day at work and also doing a lot in my lab offside from work (not only before preparing for an exam). One tip: Don´t spent your time to study und study again the maximum configurations guide, which was necessary for VCP 4.

Of course the required perpetration mainly depends on your experience level and how long you worked with vSphere. Many people think that you are well prepared just after sitting the required ICM course. I think that’s a total misbelieve and one of the main reasons many people failing the exam. But this should already be clear after reading the exam blue print: …A candidate for the VCP certification has approximately six months experience working with a vSphere implementation... & … have additional industry-recognized general IT certifications or the equivalent experience (typically 2-5 years).

So if you are quite new to vSphere…

  • Get “some” hand on experience. Of course you can do a lot in a lab at home but this still can´t keep up with daily work experience.
  • Read the exam blue print multiple times! Make sure you can make a check mark after each line of the exam objects.
  • Review the ICM course. There are some good books and video-trainings out there (for example: Mastering VMware vSphere 5 or Trainsignals VMware vSphere 5 Training)
  • VMware itself provide you with numerous manuals and technical papers. So read, read and read it!
  • Browse the web and VMware community for more experience reviews. Some people have done really good collections of their study notes etc.
  • Take the VCP mock exam over and over via your VMware myLearing account until you can answer all questions. Also to get a feeling how the exam will look like.
  • Try to get some basics of advanced topics like powerCLI, esxtop etc.
  • A good global knowledge of related technics like network, protocols and storage is also required, so don´t focus only on vSphere.
  • If you are a non-native English speaker you still should use your vSphere client in English (also the manuals etc.), even if its available in your local language, because the exam will be in English! (May this not apply to people from Korea and China, because I think the exam is also available in these two languages.)
  • Join the VMware community and follow several VMware related blog (like this one 🙂 )

Good luck to everyone taking this exam in the future!


  1. I had the swine flu when I took the test and didn’t get as much studying as I watend to. I memorized all of the configuration maximums and didn’t get many questions on them. My coworker took his test and said most of his questions were about them. We both passed so I’m not complaining, but I was freaking out when they didn’t come up on my test and that was what I mostly studied.

  2. Hi,
    Congrats on passing out VCP.
    is it necessary to attend the vmware training? what if I don’t and appear for exam? is it possible? what will I be missing if I pass the exam without attending course?

  3. Hi Wasim,
    yes you need to attend a offical VMware course. There are several courses out, which allow you to take the exam and become a VCP. As far as I know this should be the “Install, Configure and Manage” course, the “Fast Track” course and the quite new one: “Optimize and Scale”.

    I have heard (so take this info with caution) that you can take the exam without taking a course first, BUT you will not become offical a VCP until you achieve the necessary course requirment.


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