It’s been almost a year that I’ve got my first VCAP-DCA certification, but instead of writing about how I prepared for it, I thought it will be more useful to write about a global strategy for every certification exam.
I’m a big fan/believer on IT certifications, especially those lab based, because you can’t brain dump them! They reflect what you can do on real world scenario.
If you work on the technology/subject on a daily basis, you are half way the path, what remain, is some advanced things that we don’t use, or we don’t change quite often.
I have passed many lab based certifications (VMware, Cisco and Red Hat) and the way I prepared was the same. Here is my strategy, may be it will work for you, at least it worked for me.
First, build a home lab, the required hardware depend on the certification you’re shooting for, for example, building a Red Hat lab with four machines can be achieved with a 4 GB Memory laptop, however, lab involving VMware product require more hardware resources, just keep in mind this is a home lab and you’re not required the achieve top performance. My last home lab was built using an Intel NUC with 32GB of RAM on a reasonable budget.
Second thing, all exam have a blueprint, take every subject and analyze what you know, and what you don’t, sometime (rarely) you won’t get question about the subject, but you should understand the when, why, how to use the feature.
Third, have a schedule, this will keep you focused on your target, it happened to me, to go through a loop of studying, practicing without having a scheduled exam, this consume energy, focus and it’s a time wasting method.
Fourth, experiment with every exam subject, some time we have the theory, sometime we have done that before, but you should practice anyway, this will help you save time during the real exam, the faster you are, the better.
Five, Relax!! With all the change in technology, sometime we get lost, and we get the feeling/fair on being outdated by the rapid technology advancement, but guess what? You’re not, because what you are doing today will give you a leap ahead for future technology/product release and it will be easier to keep your knowledge up-to-date with future change.