Scoring for VCAP6 Design Exams

As you may or may not know, VCA and VCP exams are graded as either right or wrong, 1 point per item. There isn’t half points awarded if you need to pick two items and you get 1 right and 1 wrong (the question is graded as a whole). In the VCAP exams that methodology changes (still can’t get half a point, but they are worth more than 1 point). In this post I’m going to show you how the two types of design items are graded. Be sure to read the VCAP6 Design Tips, Tricks and New Features post to familiarize yourself with the terms I’ll be using below.

*Note none of the examples below are in any of the production exams. Sorry, no freebies!

Drag and Drop


Drag and drop items can be graded in two ways. In the first way, each source button is worth 1 point:


In the second way, each target is an all or nothing:


Now there isn’t anything that will explain which type of scoring is taking place; but as an infrastructure designer, we expect you’ll know when a solution won’t work without all it’s required components. For instance, if you want to enable Network I/O control 3 (NIOC3), you’d need an ESXi 6.x Host, a vSphere Distributed Switch v 6.x.x and an Enterprise Plus License. Without one of those 3 things, you can’t enable NIOC3. So be on the look out for those type of items in the exam.

Losing Points

Obviously not filling out the correct solution will not net you the maximum points, but you also can’t just add all the source buttons to all the targets in hopes the driver will notice you have the required source buttons on the required targets.

You will lose one point for every extra added source button as shown here:

In the all or nothing drag and drop items, you lose all the points for the target if you add more than is needed or you don’t put the required amount as shown here:





Design items are where the exam can make or break you. All design exams have a master design item that is usually worth over 50 points. These items require objects to be placed on the canvas, objects to be placed on top of each other and/or objects to be connected to each other. In some situations an object can have a lot of connections, in these situations forgetting to place the object could cost you a lot of points! The image below shows the logic behind how we score items, it probably makes no sense now, but read on and I’ll explain:


Losing Points

Let’s see what happens when I forget to place an object. As it stands I have 28 total points in the below item, but if I were to forget one of the vCenter VMs, I’d go down to 17 points! Why? Because the design expects you to have 2 vCenters (-2), a replication connector between the 2 vCenters (-1), 2 connections to vCenters from the Load Balancer (-2), 4 connections to the vCenter to RDM disks (-4), 2 connections from the vCenter to the SQL server (-2) [-11]. In this example and all design items you can get anywhere from 0 to the max (in this case 28 points). You will never receive less than a 0 on an item.


Another way to lose points is by adding objects that are not required to fulfill the requirements of the design. Here you’ll see I added a VMDK disk and an Embedded Platform Services Controller which were not needed for this design. I lost 2 points because of it:


The final thing to look out for is being sure the connectors are connecting the right objects. This can become tricky in larger designs where you have something like a tag on top of an object. If you connect an object to a tag instead of the object it is sitting on top of, you won’t get those points. In the below example I’ve added a startup order tag on top of the VMs. If I create a replication connector from one External PSC VM to the green 3 tag instead of the other External PSC VM, I’ll lose out on that connection point. Here it is in action:




I hope the combination of this post and my VCAP6 Design Tips, Tricks and New Features post adequately prepare you for these new VCAP6 Design exams. It’s been a very educational (no pun intended) set of projects for myself. I look forward to seeing an increase in the amount of people taking these advanced exams and working towards getting their VCIX6 by passing the adjacent VCAP6 Deploy exam. For the Deploy exams, be sure to check out Dave Davis’ VCAP6 Deployment Exam Interface Tips & Tricks post over at Good luck!

21 thoughts on “Scoring for VCAP6 Design Exams

    1. They just need to be placed on top of the objects. If you move the object underneath and the object on top doesn’t move, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have been scored. Objects do not have to be “locked” in place. They just need to be placed on top of the other object.

  1. Hey Jordan, a drag and drop question scores a maximum of 9 points in GA? There is an master design in VCAP6-DCD, how can we recognise this kind of question?

    1. Not sure I follow. The example I gave was just that, an example. Drag and drops can be any number of points. The master design questions are not drag and drop, they are design (visio style) questions.

  2. Regarding below line mentioned in blog what we read on internet is there is no master design in VCAP6 version (which was the case in VCAP5)

    “All design exams have a master design item that is usually worth over 50 points.”

      1. So just wondering if in the exam the background items aren’t moving the foreground items will be it be scored properly? I.e. lets say you have a cluster object and then put server objects on top it — but for some reason only 4/5 server objects moved when moving the cluster object. How is the 5th one going to be scored?

        1. The items don’t have to lock, the scoring is based on if 90% of an object is placed on another object. If the underlying object moves and the VMs placed on top of them don’t move with it, it doesn’t matter. It’s not scored on items being locked to each other. When designing we wished that if an item was laid on top of another it autolocked, but the testing was inconsistent so we didn’t use that as a scoring metric. Hopefully in future releases they go to HTML5 instead of Flash.

  3. Hi Jordan,

    Thanks a lot, It is very informative and useful article!

    How can we manage to meet the design requirements and expectation to gain the optimal scores.

    For example: If we have to add many clusters/hosts, Shall I connect all hosts to the virtual switches, What is the best switch to use is this case (Standard or distributed) ?

    I know that both can work fine but how can I know the designer expectation?


    1. You know the designer expectation based on the requirements. If there was a requirement Network I/O Control (NIOC) then you know you’d have to use a Distributed Switch.

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