Exam Preps · Technology

3V0-21.18 Preparation & Exam Experience

When I was initially preparing to take the 3V0-21.18: Advanced Deploy vSphere 6.5 Exam, my first thought was that the exam should be fairly straightforward since I have basic experience in managing a vSphere environment. Boy was I was wrong.

First of all the environment, I had been managing was a relatively small one with about 12 hosts, a vCenter, VMware vRealize Operations (vROPs) and no vSAN. vROPs was not really utilized to its fullest. Also, because my environment was small, I didn’t need to do certain things like backup the vCenter server configurations or execute VMware Cmdlets and Customize Scripts Using PowerCLI. These two are part of the objectives.

Finally, I did not have and manage an environment that was built in accordance with VMware’s Validated Design. This meant I was not using a standard environment in which the exam would test you on.

My first attempt at this exam was on the 30th of August 2019. At the time there was only one location that could offer this exam in my country and I had planned to take the previous version (3V0-623: VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Deployment Exam). When I went in for the exam, it didn’t load on the only computer the centre had and that was a few days before the exam was to be retired. (I’m not going to go into why the centre only had one computer 😦 ). I had to push for a refund.

The refund from Pearson came as a voucher and when it came I was in Dubai on vacation with my family and was not preparing to write the exam. Considering the issues I faced in my first attempt I decided to risk it and schedule the exam immediately (on the 19th of September 2019). I only had a few hours to brush up on what I knew and read weeks before.

The questions were not majorly difficult but I found that I was ratholing a lot. Victor Forde explained this term properly in his blog – victorforde.com

This was his advice;

Don’t Rat-Hole: This was another lesson which i thought I learned as a child but clearly ignored come exam day. If you are struggling with a question for too long, do not rat-hole digging deeper and deeper doing Root Cause Analysis, move on. I lost lots of time on a couple of questions I wouldn’t move past because of ego. Some tasks are quicker than others but in the general sense there are 17 questions and 205 minutes to complete them so spending 20 minutes on a question for example like I did, is too long.

…and that was my major mistake. If I had skipped tough questions early and come back to them later. I would have faired better in the exam.

The result came in on the 30th of September 2019. It was a few weeks of suspense and I felt horrible when I saw that I was soo close with a score of 290. The passing score was 300. :-(.

Third Time’s a Charm

For my third attempt, I had to find some way to get the funds to pay for the exam. Thankfully, I got some vouchers from my participation at the 2020 VMworld and Empower.

Now that the funding was out of the way, it was time to study and prepare.


As always, the first step when preparing for any exam is to download and thoroughly go through the exam guide. You can find it here.

The next thing I did was search the internet for other folks that have taken the exam and read their experiences. Just like you are reading mine. I also reached out to some other guys I had contacted when I took the exam earlier.

  • Ricardo Conzatti has a VCAP simulator that was very helpful in my second attempt.. Here’s the lnk to it.
  • Victor Forde who I quoted earlier was able to explain his experience in his blog. Here’s the link again. He really breaks down all the steps to take to ace the exam so there’s no need to repeat them here.

While working with the exam guide, I followed Kyle Jenner’s VCAP6-DCV Deployment Study Guide. I loved the way he broke down each objective into the various sub-areas/topics. His study guide is for 6 but is still relevant for 6.5

On my part, my preparation involved dusting up an old laptop and setting up a nested lab environment on it using VMware Workstation and Nested ESXi appliances from William Lam (I mentioned his nested appliances in an earlier post). I built my lab using this guide from NAKIVO Inc. They have an updated guide for vSphere 7 here.

My home lab environment though slow helped me test out some of the objectives especially on PowerCLI since I was not familiar with that. I used the lab alongside Kyle’s guide.

Exam Day

I scheduled the exam for the 17th of November 2020. This was the expiry date of the voucher. I needed all the time I could get. I used the same centre that had issues loading in my first attempt. There was still one system but it was upgraded and I hoped that would mean it was faster. Sadly, the exam had to be loaded several times for it to work and I lost almost 45 minutes.

The questions were easy enough and I could feel the difference practising made in my speed. I was sure not to fall into the trap of rat-holing. When I hit a wall, I marked the question and moved on.

The results came in on the 18th of November 2020 and I remember falling to my knees in my kid’s room as I saw my score. “Thank you, Lord”were the words that fell off my lips as I knelt.

My score was 329

2 thoughts on “3V0-21.18 Preparation & Exam Experience

  1. Congratulations on the pass! That’s an advanced practioner exam where there’s no hiding with 50/50 answers so nice one to bag 👍 Glad your hard work paid off! Thanks for the blog shoutout and glad it helped 🙌


    1. Thanks a lot Victor.
      If I didn’t say this enough already – Your blog really helped. I remember how my tense nerves got relaxed after reading it.


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