I flew up to Sydney yesterday for the privilege of being (as far as I know) the first non-Mercury employee to sit for the LoadRunner CPC exam in Australia.
Feedback from people who had already taken the exam seemed to be almost universally along the lines of “there is a lot to get through. Know the subject thoroughly. You will not have time to look up documentation.” Mercury representatives said, “If you could do your LoadRunner CPS exam, then you should have no problems with the CPC.”
I had previously completed my LoadRunner CPS and had been using LoadRunner for a long time but, even so, I found the exam extremely challenging and used every minute of the allocated time.
The LoadRunner 7.6 CPC exam is to be completed in 1 day (8 hours). The pass mark is 70%, and a total of 134 possible points are allocated to the four exam sections as follows:
Section A – Scripting exercises.
60 points (45%)
Section B – LoadRunner Controller + Multiple choice questions.
28 points (21%)
2 hours 30 minutes.
Section C – Multiple choice questions.
36 points (27%)
Section D – C programming.
10 points (7%)
As can be seen from the recommended completion times for each section, Mercury’s estimates are definitely on the low side (adding up to only 6 hours, 15 minutes), and the possible scores for each section do not correlate with the suggested times.
I spent 4 hours and 30 minutes on Section A, and 45 minutes on Section D, with the rest of the time split between the two remaining sections.
The questions in Section A build on each other. If you cannot complete the first question, you will not be able to go on with subsequent questions. Having completed the exercises from the CPS comes in handy here, as some of the questions are similar. Ensure that you are familiar with parameterisation and correlation using both recording modes (as far as I can remember, the CPS only used URL mode). Try not to make assumptions about what is required. Follow the instructions to the letter. If you miss something on an earlier question, you will probably not have time to go back, make changes to all your previous scripts and re-run them. Remember that script execution for debugging purposes can be sped up by turning off “Animated Run” and closing the output window. Your script execution will be CPU-bound, and these items have a large overhead.
Section B focuses on creating and executing a scenario. There are no surprises here, but one of the key questions is based on how Mercury thinks a load test should be run, so your own experiences/prejudices may have little value. There is at least 30 minutes of execution time in this section that can be completed in parallel with Section C or D. Just remember that, as the Application Under Test will probably be running on the same machine as the controller, any compilations or searches through Acrobat files will affect the scenario results as they push CPU utilisation to 100%.
Section C is an opportunity to pick up some easy marks. There are 36 possible points for the 32 multiple-choice questions. There are some obscure questions here that you are guaranteed to have never encountered, but all answers can be found by searching through the documentation or experimenting with LoadRunner. As with the CPC, there are some very ambiguous questions, and even a question on the features of a type of graph that unintentionally leaves the name of the graph out of the question. When in doubt, deal with ambiguity by documenting your assumptions about what the question means.
Section D is the easiest section for guaranteed marks. You are given a script that contains compilation, logical and functional errors and must make it run against the Application Under Test. if you have a working knowledge of C, it shouldn’t be hard to track down the compilation errors. Start with the first error and work down the list. Remember that a “not writing pre_cci.ci” output message from the compiler can (non-obviously) push the real error off the top of the debug window. Once the compiler errors are taken care of, you must ensure that the script meets its stated aim. This will not be hard if you can successfully complete Section A.
Apparently the LoadRunner 7.6 CPC exam has a very high failure rate. I am not totally confident of receiving a passing grade myself. All questions were answered and all exercises were completed to the specifications, but my scripts were short on elegant solutions and clearly written code. My fingers are crossed for some generous marking.
Update: I finally received my results, and I passed this exam comfortably.
Update (December/2007) : This entry was written in mid-2004, and is no longer relevant to the new HP LoadRunner certifications. New LoadRunner certification exams are expected to be available in late Feb/March of 2008. I am involved in the review process for these exams and will post more information about where you can take the new certification exams soon.