I recently sat and passed the VCP 5 exam. Current holders of the VCP 4 certification have until February 29th, 2012 to pass the VCP 5 exam and qualify to receive the VCP 5 qualification without having to take one the usual pre-requisite classes.
There are differing views on if the requirement to attend an authorised class is a positive or negative. My personal view is that for new VCP candidates attending a course provides you with a valuable learning experience that can really allow you to concentrate on areas that you may not have a lot of experience with and provide you with the opportunity to clarify areas that have confused you.
That being said for existing VCP’s and especially VCAP qualified candidates the requirement to sit through a classroom course for an edition upgrade is probably overkill, however this is simply my opinion and I have not had to opportunity to attend the VCP 5 courses. I mention the VCAP qualification here as this is a purely hands-on lab based exam. I believe if you have managed to pass this exam then you have enough hands-on experience to complete the required training to upgrade to VCP 5 using freely available resources.
In regards to the resources I highly recommend the Trainsignal vSphere 5 training DVD by David Davis (b | t) and Elias Khnaser. For the price I believe you are getting some seriously valuable training and a resource for the future. I also purchased and read Mastering vSphere 5 by Scott Lowe (b | t) and VMware vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deep Dive by Duncan Epping (b | t) and Frank Dennerman (b | t). These books and blogs are really valuable resources. There have been some great changes in the HA areas in vSphere 5 so its time well spent to know how the new version works. I also really got a lot out of reviewing the vReference vSphere 5 documentation notes and of course also the official vSphere 5 documentation.
The other major requirement to succeed in this exam is to download the trial version of the ESXi products and install and configure them and then install and configure them again. Get to know the interfaces and what you can do in the different areas of the available user interfaces. This is a useful site for showing you how to install the components.
In regards to the exam itself. I had 90 minutes to complete the 85 questions and achieve at least 300 to pass. The questions in the test I feel are much better than the VCP 4 questions. I felt this as the questions did not require you to memorise configuration maximum type information which anyone can lookup and confirm within a few seconds. The questions were based on real world troubleshooting and configuration scenarios that a normal VMware administrator would face. Again this is why it is so important to download, use and be familiar with how to use the products. I cannot stress this enough. Hopefully this change will prevent people passing using less than reputable means.
In hindsight I should have concentrated further on some of the newer options for deployment and HA. I also wish I had actually configured auto-deploy in my lab. The exam was not overly difficult however it is not simple either. With more time I could have achieved a better result however I set myself a time and stuck to it and achieved the result I needed.
If you are an experienced VMware administrator and would prefer to avoid the class requirement I believe there is still time to complete the exam. Even if you are yet to achieve the VCP 4 certification you can sit the VCP 4 exam and the VCP 5 exam prior to the 29th Feb. I would not choose to have to do it via this method however if you are experienced it is possible. You can check out my VCP 4 experience here.