My Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) Exam Experience

Published on January 13, 2020 under Certification · Tagged Kubernetes, CKA and Project Pacific · Read in about 4 min (742 words)

It has now been about two months since I have began learning Kubernetes as I started to cover Project Pacific in my new role. With that said, one of my goals was to achieve the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) to prove my current knowledge. This post will be a recap of my experience studying for the exam.

I am one that likes to take Certifications to obtain a certificate stating I am a SME in a particular area. In this case Kubernetes was up on my list, safe to say on my first attempt i passed the exam!

What is the CKA?

According to CNCF.io the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) program was created by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, in collaboration with The Linux Foundation, to help develop the Kubernetes ecosystem. As one of the highest velocity open source projects, Kubernetes use is exploding. The exam is 3 hours long and to pass you must achieve a score of 74%.

This is the first level certificate for Kubernetes, the next level is the Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD), but ill save that one for later.

What was the exam like?

Taking the CKA exam was different than what I’m use to. Im use to traveling to a testing center which happens to be no where near me and taking the exam in an environment that I have no control over. The CKA and CKAD exams are taken in the comfort of your own home. The requirements are you must have your own computer that can run chrome or chromium browser, have reliable internet and a webcam and microphone. Your working surface must be clean and have nothing around that can help. In my case I had to use my webcam to pan around the room showing there was nothing on the walls, on my desk or behind my monitor. I even had to remove the pen holder from my desk which I find a little strange, but it was ok. Luckily you are also able to keep a drink on your desk, but it must be a clear liquid in a clear glass or unlabelled bottle. All of these things are documented in the CKA FAQ

How did I prepare?

Well, up until about 2 months ago I had little to no experience with Kubernetes. Based on feedback from others i started with Nigel Poultons Getting Started with Kubernetes course. This course was able to prepare me with everything I needed to know about Kubernetes and set very great groundwork. Once I was ready to start to study for the CKA I was referred to another great course from Mumshad Mannambeth who I ironically met at KubeCon:San Diego and explained Project Pacific! He has a series on KodeKloud and Udemy. Both exams include a video series as well as a lab that can be used to study based on practice questions.

Exam Tips

The CKA is an exam that is kind of an open book test. You are allowed to have a single tab open to anything in the *.kubernetes.io or github.com/kubernetes. This means not having to worry about YAML file structure or those commands that you can easily lookup. Kubernetes.io has a great search function but sometimes its easy to create bookmarks especially when the CKA Handbook provides you with the topics that will be on the exam.

The one item I think that can save the most time is enabling auto completion of kubectl commands, you can learn a really long complicated command and try to memorize it, or bookmark the kubectl cheatsheet which has that command and more!

To pass the exam, you must score a minimum of a 74%. The exam is 24 questions and each one has the weight of the question listed. Using the in-test notepad I recommend writing down the number to each question the weight and whether you think you got it correct or not, this helps you know when you might’ve achieved a passing score.

Conclusion

All in all I was very satisfied in the exam quality and questions. I didn’t feel that the questions were too easy or too hard. The exam lasts for 3 hours and for the first time I actually utilized the full 3 hours and didn’t finish everything 100%. If you follow some of the tips in preparation you should be well prepared when you are ready!

Have any other tips? Leave them in the comments for others.

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