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The VMCE-A1: Design & Optimization V1 (VMCE-A1) exam is the second requirement to acquire the Veeam Certified Architect (VMCA) designation, after the VMCE-A: Design & Optimization V1 traning. Compared to VMCE exam is more costly, but it’s also another level.

The exam must be taken at a Pearson VUE local testing facility with a time extention (30 minutes) for not native english (based on the Country of the testing center). Total time (without time extention) it’s 70 minutes, but it’s not a huge constraint.

This exam exam includes 40 randomized questions (from a base probably bigger than 80 questions) from each of the course modules, that are:

  1. Design and sizing
  2. Infrastructure assessment
  3. Security
  4. Optimization
  5. Automation
  6. Audit and compliance
  7. Troubleshooting

ALL the Veeam Availability Suite™ is coverd, so expect also a lot of questions on Veeam ONE!

Don’t expect a VMware VCAP design exam, here all the questions are just multi-answers with only one choice or multiple choices (2 or 3, but always declared how many choices). So the time it’s not a huge limit, because you have little less than 2 minutes per question (or little more with time extention). Some require more time just to read carefully all the question, others also less than one minute.

The VMCE-A1 exam pass is awarded to those who score 70% or higher. And here comes the first big problem because in a multi-choices question, if you just fail one single option you score 0! Yes zero. Considering that there are a lot of multi-choices questions and that some answers are not simple at all it become very difficult have succesul pass. I’ve not idea what can happen if you just miss a option (becase you are un-sure): in this case it’s also considered wrong or you can have a partial score?

I have to retake the exam. Before the pass, I’ve got a 66% score that it’s boring, but simple demostrate that I’ve not study enough. But the score report can help a lot to understand what you have failed. For example this was mine:

As you can notice you can got simple 0 on one section if you fail all the answers on that area (or just one option in a multi-choices question). Also not all the sections has the same weight, but I don’t really how the medium is calculated (should be nice have this information).

So what to do to be prepared for the exam? My suggestion it’s take the exam one-two days after the course, in this way you already remember a lot of information and notes.

It’s all in the course material? Almost yes, including the small notes that you may find. But don’t forget the labs because some considerations came you from there.

For the thoubleshooing section, instead you have to check all the related Veeam KB, because you will find the answers there instead in the course material (at least not in the course material that I have).

For the design and sizing section you will found a lot (really a lot) of numbers: sizing it’s just this, was better have more on desing, but the type of questions does not help in this (in my option was better have some design options and choose the right one, or build a desin like in the VCAP design exams).

Infrastructure assessment and audit and compliance are mostly on Veeam ONE capabilities and reports: know their name very well and remember the user cases of all of them.

The exam is not only on products for vSphere, but also for Hyper-V, but not so much different than the course content: several parts are just generic, some are hypervisor specific.

When I took the course was based mainly on v8 of the products, but the exam now cover also v9 and (few) v9.5 features! I suppose that the course has also been updated in the contents.

As written time could be enough, but use the review in the right way: if you are unsure or you are spending too much time on a question, just mark it and you will came back later.

To have a (small) idea of the complexity of the questions, there is a Veeam contest where you have to answer 5 questions for a chance to win a VMCE-ADO scholarship: if you score 60% (remember that in the exam the pass is at 70%) or higher and you might win a paid training and exam at the center of your choice.

Maybe you don’t need it, but the questions can give a very small idea on what you can found.

What are my points on this exam: for sure it’s not easy at all, but in my option it’s (a little) too much mnemonic and not completely balanced in the questions distributions (at least during my attempts). You may forgot a number, the most important aspect is that you know the architecture and the design concepts and those are not completly proved in this kind exam, but again, this is just a my opinion due to type of questions that I’ve got.

So be sure to have some days before the exam to study all the material and documents that you need: use the course material and take a look at all KB linked in the material. And have a good memory for all the numbers, at least for the section related to the sizing.

Note and disclaimer: I’ve took the course in the beta version and not in the GA one (where seems that the contents have been improved and the lab part is not more present). For this reason my opinion could not match the real status of content distributions (when I refer to how the questions are balanced or not).

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