VCP-CMA 2023: Review & Tips
As with all other VCPs, the CMA exam focuses on testing (what I like to call) trivial knowledge about vRealize Suite (primarily vRA). Of course, all of the questions on the exam are valid and important, but in most cases the questions are based on knowledge that can be “googled” in about 5 minutes if needed in real life.
When deciding to go after this certification, one should remember that experience =/= exam knowledge. What I mean by that is: while using the product in real life is important, it is nearly impossible to know everything needed for the exam just from the experience alone.
For example, while it is obvious for most vRealize administrators and architects that vRealize Orchestrator now comes as a part of the vRealize Automation appliance by default, they might not remember the exact storage and compute requirements of all the different sizing types of the standalone vRO appliance. This is why it is vital to properly prepare and study before attempting the VCP-CMA exam.
The exam I took was 2VO-31.21 - focused on vRealize Automation 8.3 and was made up of 67 questions. The questions were a mix of single answer and multiple choice (i.e., select 3 statements that are true). The majority of the questions were straight forward and based on facts in the product documentation; for example, questions about ports used by a given product, which features the product offers, etc. The exam consisted of very few questions, which could be labeled as “vague”. You shouldn’t expect many questions that are based on opinions or best practices.
As you can probably already tell, I’m not a fan of exams like that. I hate learning documentation by heart, and I like supplementing my knowledge with notes, documents, or the internet whenever needed instead of learning facts such as required ports or license levels. Having that said, this exam wasn’t the worst offender of that ever. A lot of questions could be “eyeballed” with enough general knowledge about the product and experience with the VMware ecosystem in general.
Let’s take a single-choice question as an example; usually, in this type of question, you can expect the following structure of answers:
A) correct answer B) A very similar but incorrect answer (usually by a minor detail) C) an answer mentioning something valid (i.e., a product name) but having little to no relevance to the question D) A made-up name or fact or a flat-out dumb answer (i.e., setting all firewall ports to open in production is a good idea)
Questions like the one above made up about 60% of the exam, so not enough to pass but enough to boost your score if you’re not 100% prepared but keep your head on your shoulders.
I passed this exam on my first attempt, scoring 390/500 points (300 to pass). I had good understanding of the previous generation of the product (7.x) which allowed me to quickly “update” my knowledge to 8.x; for that I primarily used the ICM on-demand course material and the included lab (to play around with the new/changed features). Shortly before the exam, I carried out a thorough review of the product compatibility matrix, the ports required by vRA, vRO etc., and a quick scan of the VVD (VMware Validated Design) documentation.
- Don’t assume this to be an easy exam; unless you have perfect memory, you will need to review some stuff before attempting it.
- The product interoperability matrix and ports.vmware.com should be your best friends; review both thoroughly.
- If you don’t know an answer to the question, attempt to “think like an exam writer” and identify the obviously wrong answers and pick the most likely one, or, after throwing out the answers you think are wrong, roll a die on the remaining answers and just pick one.
- Make use of the paper and pen supplied to note down questions you’d like to come back to. I would advise against reviewing all questions after you finish your first pass. This has led me to fail more than once. I think it’s better to review only the questions you really think you need a second shot at.
- The CMA exam differs from DCV or NSX as the scope of products in far greater. This means two things: 1. you don’t need to know literally everything about every single product to pass and 2. you should make sure you understand the relationships and interoperability of the products very well in order to successfully pass the exam