On March 3, 2016 I set the VCAP5-DCA exam. This was the most stressful and exciting test I had ever taken. Below are my thoughts and experiences on the exam. I originally posted them on the Techexams.net Virtualization Forum.
The blueprint is 100% on point for this test. Download it, download a checklist too and check off each point as you are reading and labbing them. I used the pluralsight Optimize and Scale course taught by Jason Nash, I had Staples print and bind the PDF study guide found at https://paulgrevink.wordpress.com, and I used the official documentation to fill in the gaps. I have a home lab (nested ESXi hosts on a Dell T110 server) and used that extensively.
I actually had a hard time finding up to date "trip reports" so I figured I could post some thoughts to help anyone else out. I had heard a lot of people complain about lag and slowdown but I guess VMware has figured it out. I didn't have any delay in clicks, everything ran smoothly, etc. It performed about as well as my home lab performs.
The first thing I did before even doing the pre-test survey thing was write the numbers 1 - 23 on my dry erase board. I left some space for notes, topics, etc. This was crucial for me. I checked off the number if I thought I was done and wrote my last step if I wanted to move on. Once my clock started I opened up the web and thick client and authenticated. While that loaded I read all 23 questions and wrote down the topic. It calmed me down to know there were some topics I knew and had practiced for.
Time management is key. If you don't know, write down the topic and move on. You can always come back. Since you get partial points do the 5 minutes of work you know you can do, note where you left, and move on.
You get access to a ton of documentation and kb.vmware.com. It doesn't index itself as well as google indexes it but you can still search and find some help.
I had worked on all 23 questions 90 minutes in. I spent the remaining 90 minutes finishing up most of them. This is the first time the clock stopped on me. I left some partially finished and one I couldn't start on for either a technical reason or an IT-10T error.
Advice to anyone else working on it: Lab, get a month of pluralsight and watch Jason Nash's Optimize and Scale series. Also invest time in learning all three command lines. I'm taking very basic Linux administration (vi, renaming files, changing directories), PowerCLI and ESXCLI. Know what you can't configure in the GUI. Know what you can only do in the web client.
If you can't afford or don't have access to hardware at work consider doing a virtualized lab in vCloud Air. You can get $300 free credit and there are some blogs out there to help you get started.
I have 9 years experience working with VMware, mostly in SMBs. I changed jobs about a year ago and am in an enterprise level environment with a lot of different features in production. Much of the blueprint points lined up to stuff I needed to do, was in the process of doing, or topics I needed to train to our new employees. I put in about a month of 35+ hour weeks studying to prepare but the year in the enterprise made a huge difference.