Certified Kubernetes Administrator Exam Hacks and Tips

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You're here...that means you've already taken the first step towards your Kubernetes Admin Certification.

Many congratulations!! With that, let me share my experience of the journey, with hopes that it will help you get certified with relatively less effort.

Now, when I was preparing for this exam, I read many blogs and was told by several friends that CKA is comparatively a difficult exam to clear. But soon after facing it, I realised this certification needs correct method of preparation. You can easily clear the Kubernetes Admin certification if you follow some of the useful tips provided by people who have already cleared the exam.

A little background on my level of comfort with Kubernetes...I am a full-time backend developer, but I also got a chance to work with helm charts and deployments on Kubernetes clusters. I found it interesting and started learning more and more on my own. Over the time of 6 months to 1 year, I developed good debugging skills too. I even got an opportunity to create Kubernetes clusters for our team. All this encouraged and helped me to prepare for the CKA exam.

So, with that, I am putting here some points(in order of decreasing importance) that is a must to follow if you want to get certified in the first go and with minimal efforts. And yes,

Why should you listen to me? Because, I passed CKA with 91%

While preparing for the Exam

1) Get Certified without diving deep!!

Let me first clearly state what is implied when I say " without diving deep". It means you don't need to memorise the humongous commands by practising it over and over again. Understand here that CKA asks for candidates to demonstrate their competence in a hands-on, command-line environment. The skill you need more than a good memory is debugging skill. And it can only be developed by being familiar with the errors. Practice and perfect the basics of the syllabus rather than trying to cover everything.

Remember, passing criteria for the exam is 74%, CKA FAQ, which means you don't need to cover every single topic to get certified. Be wise to save your time by skipping on sections where repetitive effort is required just to memorise the commands. Study selectively, and understand those core concepts in depth rather than trying to complete the entire syllabus.

2) Practice, Practice and guess what??.. Practice more!!

Practice makes a man Certified Kubernetes Admin

Yes, CKA is a 3hrs duration exam, in which you are asked to solve 24 questions. And hence, you must be fast, precise and accurate. With enough practice, you can easily target to solve 20-22 questions, in 2hrs time. Remaining 1hr can be utilised for revision and trying out unsolved questions.

3) Learn to use Search tab in kubernetes.io wisely

According to the Examination handbook, you'd be allowed to open only one additional tab. Documentation under kubernetes.io will be a helpful aid during your 3 hours of struggle, so learn to use the search box wisely. Maybe practice searching with important keywords that provide you with search results containing the exact information you're looking for.

For example, if you want to get the commands for certificate generation quickly, and because you have practised, you know that OpenSSL is used for manually creating a certificate. So instead of just using 'certificate' as a search keyword, use "openssl x509". This first link in the result points to a page that uses openssl commands to generate certificate. This will save you a lot of time over a generic search of keyword "certificates" because just by looking at search results, you won't be able to make out which link has commands to generate certificates, unless you remember it.

4) kubectl Cheat Sheet is an awesome resource

Make it a point to thoroughly understand the commands in the cheat-sheet. It's a great resource for command shortcuts. You should not skip any part of it. Spend extra time here if required.

5) Brush up your bash CLI skills

Revise on Systemd basics, check here. Also, be confident with an editor like vi or any editor of your choice. Learn the basic bash terminal commands for creating, deleting and moving files. You should also be familiar with basic docker commands.

6) Relevant courses and Repos

While preparing for CKA, I found the following resources helpful,

During the exam

5) Always change context before attempting questions

This is a common mistake that most people do. Be careful to always update the context before attempting every question. Again this is given in the cheat sheet, so must read the cheat sheet.

6) Use Notepad for Fast editing

In the exam, you're given a Linux Server Terminal​ for executing command lines and a notepad for your rough work. Use notepad for faster editing rather than typing out the same command again and again in the console. In my experience, it is faster to edit in the notepad. For example, if you type out a command for some pod generation, then keep this template saved in the notepad so that you don't have to type the entire command again for some other question. You can simply edit the fields of the pod template you've kept in the notepad and use it.

7) Revision trick during the Exam

During the exam, use a convention to name your files starting with the question number. This will save you a lot of time while revision, as you can easily find which files were used to answer which questions. It will save you from getting confused in that time-crunched moment.

8) Use alias k='kubectl' always

Imagine typing kubectl for solving 24 questions for 3hrs. If you type kubectl 5 times per question, on an average you'd be typing kubectl 240 times(including revision), provided there are no typos. You are getting an idea of how much time can you save by using an alias for a few commands. So, please use alias k instead. Make it a habit if it's not already, because this is a real time-saver.

HOW MUCH TIME WILL YOU TAKE FOR PREPARATION? (provided you constantly practice 2-3 hrs per day)

  1. If you're a beginner, and have not had any prior hands-on experience with Kubernetes: You should aim for 3 months at max
  2. You have partial experience and wants to get certified: You should aim for 2 months at max
  3. You've built a production-grade cluster: You should aim for 1 months at max

With that, once again All the best to you!!

I offer one-on-one training for CKA certification exam.

Reach out to me to check availability:- monicabhartiya08@gmail.com

You can also find me on twitter @monica_bhartiya