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The VCP5-DT beta period has already finished, so I would to update my thoughts on VMware beta exams (my first post about them was around one year ago).

Beta vs. Regular exams

Beta exams usually are for a small period before the run of the regular exams. Usually in the beta exams you have more time, more questions and a way to give feedback. Also the sign-up procedure could be different and is not possible to re-take a beta exam.

The results of the beta exam are available not after the exam (as it is usual for most of the regular exam), but some time (usually months) after the beta period. A pass in the beta exam could mean the same of a pass in the regular exam.

A value for the vendor

The beta exam (some vendor could use a different name) is a way, for the vendor, to make dry-run of the exam to fine-tune the questions, the number of them, how they are simply or difficult, the coverage and distributions, …

I think that a good exam require also a good beta period (of course this is not enough to have good exam), for this reason beta exams could be a good value for vendors. For example, to reduce the possibility of cheating (by talking between people or copy by printed notes) you can hope in a good testing center or you can calibrate exam duration to make this not paying… This is a simplistic example, but just to say how a fine tuning could be important.

Good exams can also mean that the related certification is more faithful.

A value for the user

The beta exam could be a value for the user that take the exam:

  • it’s a chance to test himself and the knowledge level (on more questions)
  • could be a way to see the exam questions before the regular exam (this can make simple to pass the regular exam, in case of a fail of the beta)
  • could be a way to reach a certification before the regular exam beginning
  • the exam fee is smaller (for other vendors could be be free)
  • it’s possible to contribute to improve the final exam
  • in some case, could be simple pass the beta exam… (more questions mean more changes, but it’s not always true)
  • a pass in a beta IMHO could have more value than a regular pass, because there aren’t cheats or brain-dumps of beta exam… so who pass those exams use only with all one’s strength

What’s wrong with beta exam and how could be improve?

Usually the advantages are enough to say that beta exams could be really good chances both for vendor and users. But there can be some points that can improve in VMware beta exams:

  • Fee: I agree with VMware policy to require is a fee also for beta exam. This could be a way to keep the available seats only for people that really interested. But if there is a fee, the discount rate must be always the same (IMHO I think that a 75% discount could be good )… not change with the exam… or at least not be the same of future discount on the final exams (like was in the VCAP4-DCD exam).
  • Duration: more that 4 hours could be hard, but I’m the first to say more questions and more time is better. The problem is with some testing centers where you cannot do nothing during an exam (this could be correct… but in a sunny and hot day without cooling… at least drink something could be nice).
  • Modality: the environment must match the regular exam… If something is different this must be notified before the start of the exam. For example I’m usually use the “review” feature to skip questions where I’m loosing too much time or where I’m on doubt… the lack of this function is a mess for me and I have to approach to the exam in a different way.
  • Location: for some exam could be correct to use on “trusted” testing centers (IMHO I don’t see reason for the VCP-DT)… But this means that some people have to travel also across countries… I think that VUE must instead guarantee a correct quality level of their testing centers… maybe not all… But at least one for each Country… And VMware must require that those center can guarantee some seats (for the VCP5-DT beta exam in several Countries there weren’t any seat for the entire beta exam period).
  • Period: 2-3 weeks are enough. One single week is too shot. IMHO a two weeks period could be a good compromise. But the period must be choose not near holiday period (like VCP5-DT).
  • Invitation: this must be send in a period greater that the beta period, especially when the period is shot… People may have different schedules and exams must be planned both for the exam date, but also for the study period. And seats may be booked, in some really bad testing center, with enough notice.
  • Participants: the modality invitation-only with a sing-up as individual voucher could be right way to manage the available seats. I’ve see other vendors exams (I remember the Windows 7) that have filled the available seats after some hours from the beta booking opening. But the selection criteria must be more transparent. One benefit for VCAP and VCDX certifications (as reported on the VMware certifications page) is: “invitation to participate in select beta classes and exams”. But is not the only criteria. I thing that a good criteria (may not the only) could be select people from the beta product testing program.
  • Results: it could right wait for some months… no problem on it. But I think that beta results must be send before the beginning of the regular exam. This is a big fault of VMware beta exams: for example for the VCP4 results I had to wait several months, with the risk of loose the “window” to upgrade to VCP4 without attended to any courses. Same as happen with VCP5 (but only some weeks after the official exam) and VCP4-DT (I’ve not partecipate at it, but seems that also the waiting was long).

 

Andrea MauroAbout Andrea Mauro (2906 Posts)

Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-18. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-18. Nutanix NTC 2014-18. PernixPro 2014-16. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.


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