CKA Exam Tips

Introduction

As we all are aware, Kubernetes is a rapidly growing product in the DevOps world and it is actually one of the most rare skills out there. Since last year, due to exposure to AKS (Azure Kubernetes Service), I wanted to get certified in Kubernetes by getting the CKA certification to be able to dive deeper into K8s and get to know the best practices. I had purchased the exam back in May 2020, which costs 300 US$ ( I am a fool since lots of times there is a 50% discount, specially around Black Friday, so keep an eye out for that) and started going through some courses and some hands-on lab. But it got very busy for me, due to my little angel arriving in September and I lost track of that certification. Just a few weeks back, I was checking my Junk mail and I saw an email from Linux Foundation that my exam will expire if I do not take it before the first week of October. So here I am, about 3 to 4 weeks away from my deadline and I have not even covered 30% of the material in the Udemy course I had purchased.

But somehow, I was able to pass the CKA exam during my first attempt and finished it with quite some time to spare. So hopefully this blog can act as a guide for someone trying to pass the CKA exam but time is a bit of a limitation.

Exam Preparation and Scheduling

There is quite a consensus that Mumhad’s course on Udemy is a great course to go through for CKA and his Lighting Labs and Mock Exams are on-point. He also does a great job at updating the course to accommodate for any changes coming from The Linux Foundation’s side.

Get very familiar with Kubernetes docs. You are allowed to access these documents during the exam and it will be very helpful for you during the exam and even afterwards.

Lots of hands-on. The exam is only 2 hours and you will need every minute of it. So you need to be very comfortable within a Linux environment and using vim as a text editor.

When you purchase the exam through Linux Foundation, there is a link on the checklist page which links you to a simulator to get familiar with the exam environment. This link takes you to killer.sh which until recently had to be purchased separately. Killer.sh is very similar to the real exam environment but the questions are much harder. So here is my tip, run through the killer.sh exams, to get familiar with how the exam will look like (specially the context switching commands that none of the Udemy labs have) but know that the questions are much much harder than the real exam.

Leverage the Udemy labs and mock exams to their full potential. Make sure you run through them multiple times and that you are getting perfect on them and covering them in half the time. These mock exams and lightening labs will be critical to your success. Make sure you run through them again the night before the exam and make sure you understand what and why you are doing it.

Some Key topics that seemed to have the highest weight in the Exam.

  • Pod Creation with different configurations and also with a sidecar architecture.
  • Understand what ETCD is and how to back it up and restore it.
  • Get strong with JSON Path and how to extract specific metadata and add it to a text file.
  • In the recent exam change, troubleshooting is now 30% of the exam. Know how to use systemctl to restart k8s specific services and how to troubleshoot node and control plane failures.
  • How to use kubeadm to upgrade K8s.

The Exam and Results

The portal for booking the exam is a bit slow and usually it will be hard to find slots for the next 1 – 2 weeks, so keep that in mind.

15 minutes before the exam you can login the portal and launch your exam, the 15 minutes will go into getting connected with your proctor and following his/her instructions. You are only allowed a clear water bottle on the desk with you and you should be alone in a closed room. You are allowed multiple monitors for this exam but you will have to share all of them. Unlike other exams, you did not need to use any lockdown applications, so you can have all the important pages from the Kubernetes bookmarked on your browser. Note that the “discuss” subdomain that the search results from within the Kubernetes docs might take you to is not allowed.

There will be around 17 questions in the exam with the ability to flag any questions that you want to get back to and a timer. You will be reminded by the proctor when you are 30 minute away from the end. Be very efficient with your time, you can easily move back and forth between questions, so use that to your advantage.

After finishing the exam, my results came after exactly 27 hours but it can take up to 72 hours.

That is all I have for now and good luck to everyone taking the exam.

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