I recently attempted and cleared my CKA certification exam and had a great time preparing and writing it. When it comes to exam experience, you would find different opinions where majority of them would rate it to be one of the toughest. My opinion about the CKA exam is it is manageable with self learning backed by a lot of practice.
I have a VMware cloud / SDDC background and had recently started working on containers and related stuff. I find it interesting and a real deal. Hence I decided to start preparing for the Kubernetes Administrator exam about a month back. With few initial hiccups and after a lot of reading, I realised it takes a lot of time in your lab to prepare for the exam and I followed it well throughout.
I was nervous during the exam but was confident of clearing once I finished. Exam contains good mix of 24 lab based questions where a candidate is required to score 74% to pass the exam. I have previously appeared in 2 – 3 VMware based lab exams (VCAP and VCIX) where you are scored similarly based on your ability to deploy the required element or to fix / troubleshoot the existing issue once you identify it based on your judgement.
Environment provided during the exam was smooth with no glitches whatsoever. You are given 180 minutes to attempt maximum of 24 questions where weight of each question is specified in the exam itself along with the question. During the exam, you would realise that time is your biggest enemy. With that being said, exam has been set smartly to test your hard work and practice.
There are no exam sections or order to attempt questions but logically If I have to split up questions in exam into level of difficulties, I would do it like:
Section 1: 50% of the exam is easier than you’d expect. Which means even if you know the basics and have done yourself justice with few weeks of practice in your lab, you are likely to crack them. All you need to do is stay calm. Objective is not only to score them all, but to make sure you nail them in as lesser time as possible. Your practice would make your hands quicker and confidence will make you move on quicker (since I spent a lot of time to make sure I am getting a desired result, which I would say didn’t help me much).
Section 2: 25% of the exam is smartly made tough. This is the section where it actually counts, as it is going to decide where do you land up with respect to crossing line. This section will test your knowledge on respective subject where you are made to work with multiple inter-related objects, files, yaml’s etc which makes it look tough. While first section was made to test your basics, this section would focus more on practicality of area.
Section 3: 25% of the exam is really tough. If you are clean in your prep and having a good day, you have already earned yourself a certificate with previous two sections (75 against 74 required to pass). However, I would say this is actually the section where you are made to think. This section deals with advanced Kubernetes concepts which determines your approach towards solving a complex problem. If you have deep information on how stuff works (not only how to make it work), you are good to go with a bit of sweat on a cold day.
I am sure you have already gone through the exam curriculum provided by CNCF on their website. Lets try to take a step forward and map course line to make it more relevant .. Please note that the following table is my own interpretation of the exam which is completely subjective
- Make sure you understand the basics well, practice pods, deployments, namespace, service, PV, PVC deployment 100 times at home
- Understand YAML indentation
- Get used to navigate kubernetes.io since it is allowed to browse it during the exam
- Use dry-run extensively in your lab, make it part of you
- Get used to ‘vi’ editor
- Spend 3 – 4 hours in your lab continuously in one run to simulate exam
- Read questions and tasks carefully, there may be some tricks revealed in second read
- Stay confident and don’t spend much time in tasks validation
- Know your strengths well
- I did follow a lot of blogs for my preparation and after a lot of bookmarks I realised Linux Foundation’s Kubernetes Fundamental course is the best resource. It is structured in a manner it has to be and gives you real good exercises to get accustomed to associated tasks.
- I would recommend to go through Kelsey’s Kubernetes hard way of installation. It really helps in the exam but to be honest, I was not too confident on it during the exam and hence I had a bit of hard time.
- Create your own lab with 1 master and 2 worker nodes (I used a 16 GB MacBook Pro with VMware Fusion and it was all smooth). My colleagues deployed on AWS but I would still recommend your local lab. Katacoda scenarios are good add-ons
- Last but the most important one, read as much as you can on kubernetes.io .
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.
– Muhammad Ali