Just before the start of my long awaited summer vacation, I passed my CKA exam after a long preparation period (roughly 6 months). Having a busy life added a lot to the challenge of finding time to sit down and study, but if you are dedicated enough and have a solid reason why you want to do something then you will find the time.
I have been talking to some friends and colleagues around me who also want to start with learning Kubernetes and eventually clear the CKA exam, however did not know from where to start and what study materials they should follow. Those talks are the reason why I decided to write this blog post sharing my whole experience of preparing and passing my CKA exam. In this post, I will be sharing my “why” of choosing CKA certification and the steps and materials I used to prepare in order to pass my CKA exam in my first attempt with a score of 88 (which is good in my opinion for an exam with a passing score of 66).
For someone like me who comes from hardcore networking world and spent fair share of my technical experience in Infra building and design, the concept of containers just disrupted me because I had no idea about what people around me are talking about and it became a major part of discussions coming up with my customers so this when I decided I have to be part of this world, otherwise I will be left alone at some point.
I started googling about containers and came across things like Kubernetes, which was the most common term I hear in the new container world, and hence I decided to start digging more. I got immediately in love with the concepts, technology and the idea what you can build and define full infra and even application deployments in files (yaml or json) and just get this rolled out in seconds, and this when I decided I will learn Kubernetes. The first challenge I had due to my busy life, was to find the time to sit down, build my lab environment and start studying for Kubernetes. I thought about how to make the time and the only thing that worked for me was to have a deadline of a target to achieve and thats why I decided to pursue a Kubernetes certification.
A certificate is not a must or a prove to show that you have the knowledge to carry out a job (experience is) but it definitely shows that you are dedicated, able to make time to learn and keen to grow. This however in my opinion, valid for hands-on scenario based lab certification exams (CKA exam is one of those).
Kubernetes certifications are offered by The Linux Foundation and there are three Kubernetes exams:
All three exams are hands-on lab exams and they are open book exams, which means you do get access to Kubernetes documentations during the exam.
My main strategy when I started to prepare for the CKA exam was looking for study material that really helps me learn Kubernetes concepts in general and not just focusing on exam topics. Below how I started:
On June 29th the exam interface was completely changed to a remote desktop session based on VNC, which means you take your exam from a secure Linux VM which is accessed over a VCN remote session. This does not mean that you have to have VNC or other remote desktop clients on your PC to access the exam environment, you will need however to download and install PSI safe browser to access the lab environment.
The installation of the PSI browser is part of your admission to the lab exam which is done through the Linux Foundation Portal on the day of the exam and you do not need to install this beforehand.
One good news is that the killer.sh sessions that are included in the exam booking costs offer now their practice lab environment based on the new VNC based interface, so you do not have to experience this on the day of the exam.
The main downside of the new environment is that you do not get to use your own webbrowser and hence you lose any bookmarks you might have to speed up access to information (from Kubernetes documentation only of course).
The exam is 120 minutes hands-on exam and you can flag any question to revisit in case you got stuck, this is very important since if you got stuck in a task you might lose track of time and eventually land in panic, so I would recommend allocating max 5 minutes for a task and if you cannot get it sorted out then flag it for revision and move on, and once done with the rest of the questions then go back and check the tasks you flagged.
I booked my exam at 9:00AM as I am a morning person, couple of important points you need to keep in mind for D-Day 🙂
The learning and exam experience for CKA was one of the most interesting and learning experiences I have had in a while, first because the topic is very interesting and second because of the value of the CKA certificate in the market. It is highly recommended to go through the same experience and invest in yourself, good luck!
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