I had been using ESXi 3.5 and 4.1 for a number of years before taking the course. I didn’t have a prior VMware certification on ESXi or ESX. I upgraded to 5.1 after the course and spent 3 months studying for an average of 15 hours a week using a variety of resources. I passed well. The certification exam is only easy if you approach it the way it is meant to be approached and used in the workplace, otherwise you will deservedly struggle and most likely fail which is the beauty of such a tough, rigorous and highly respected certification.
I found that there are many people expecting to be spoonfed the knowledge when the main selling point about ESXi is its flexibility. One needs to be able to adapt in a variety of situations. The exam tests this ability and therefore there are many who miss the point of the exam.
You need to take one of the relevant certified training courses in order to qualify for registering to take the exam: search for “Get VCP5-DCV Certified” for the latest link to the VMware page.
What follows is a cut & paste of the review which I wrote for Amazon US on Bill Ferguson’s “The Official VCP5 Certification Guide” published by VMware Press. I suggest you read the review and follow the recommendations carefully before taking the exam.
I did the course and brought this book on the premise that VMware would not release a guide which is inadequate. I passed the exam yesterday. The bad reviews had me nervious but the reviewers are wrong. The underlying premise of the VCP510 exam is the application of your knowledge in scenario-based situations. There are therefore two levels tested: 1. Your ability to grasp the facts. 2. Your ability to apply this knowledge in particular situations to resolve issues and/or to arrive at the appropriate solution. The latter requires an excellent grasp of the former. In other words, the exam is not about your ability to rote learn.
The book provides an excellent summary of the facts which is incredibly useful. I would – and did – use the book in conjunction with Scott Lowe’s “Mastering VMware vSphere 5” which gives a flavour of some real-world situations on a very readable and informative style. In other words, anyone expecting a one-stop shop to prepare for the VCP510 exam seriously need to re-examine their approach to both the ESXi product and the certification path. Bill Ferguson’s book is a guide, not a manual. You need a combination of the official VMware course(s), two books (see above), either a lab environment (the relevant products are available on a 60 day trial from VMware) or your own VMware environment at work in which to practice, to read through the official ESXi documentation available online from the VMware site, and of course to familiarise yourself with the style of the latest certification exam questions. There are blogs out there which go into this in more detail; read them. Be prepared to spend a couple of months studying if you are coming anew to the certification.