What you need to know about Kubernetes CKA Exam Updated Syllabus(September 2020)?

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Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has recently announced the updates in Kubernetes CKA exam curriculum, in effect from September 01, 2020. Another important change is that the duration of the exam is reduced from 3hrs to 2hrs. So, let us decode the new curriculum step by step and understand what are the major changes, what topics to focus on and most importantly,

"How to crack CKA in the first attempt POST SEPTEMBER 2020 with minimal effort?"

CKA is known to be one of the most "difficult", and hence reputed, certification exam in the DevOps community. Vast syllabus is one of the many reasons people find this exam very challenging. Well, at least this is about to change!!

Yes, you heard me right...the new curriculum cuts down on the old extensive syllabus and precisely points the topics to be understood and practised. And hence, this is compensated by a one-hour reduction in the duration of the exam. However, the number of questions in the new exam pattern has yet not been disclosed(I assume it will be less than the earlier figure, i.e. 24).

So let's see the changes in some more detail.

Scheduling(5%) + Application Lifecycle Management(8%) = Workloads & Scheduling(15%)

Scheduling and Application Lifecycle Management sections in the old syllabus are now merged together into a new section named Workloads & Scheduling. As we see, this section enlists topics such as Pods, DaemonSets, Deployments, Schedulers, ConfigMap, Secrets and etc.

The main TO DO tasks from this section are,

  • Learn what are Pods, ReplicaSets, ReplicationController, Deployments, DaemonSets
    1. How to create them using label selectors, scale them with one single command?
    2. Learn to perform rolling update and rollbacks on Deployments
    3. Resource limits configuration of the Pods/Deployment
    4. Understand how resource limits can affect Pod scheduling
    5. Learn how to create robust, self-healing, application Deployments
  • ConfigMaps and Secrets
    1. What are the different methods of creating them?
    2. What are the different use cases of ConfigMaps and Secrets?
  • Schedulers
    1. Learn about default Scheduler and how to create your own Scheduler
    2. How to configure Pods/Deployments using your custom created Scheduler?
    3. Configure multiple Schedulers
    4. Manually schedule a Pod without a Scheduler

Logging/Monitoring(5%) + Troubleshooting(10%) = Troubleshooting(30%)

One of the major changes in the new curriculum is the shifted focus towards Troubleshooting. The idea of the exam is to test the ability of the candidate as an administrator of Kubernetes cluster and hence the increased emphasis on testing the troubleshooting/debugging skills of the candidate is obvious.

Breaking this section, topics to be covered under Logging and Monitoring are,

  • Understand/deduce and Manage logs for both cluster components and applications
  • Learn how to monitor cluster components, nodes and applications
  • Manage container stdout & stderr logs: Learn how to read the container logs, and how to write into stdout and stderr logs of a container.

Troubleshooting: There is no specific Kubernetes component that needs to be studied under this section but it is more like improvising and perfecting everything else that you've covered so far. For example, learn to debug the failed Pods, Deployments, Nodes and other cluster components.

Think why something is failing and what is the most obvious component to check in order to fix it... Yes, you'll easily get this with your fundamentals done right and some practice...

Troubleshooting is all about good fundamentals and practice

A good approach to cover this section is to know-how

Cluster Maintenance(11%) + Installation, Configuration & Validation(12%) = Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration(25%)

Cluster Maintenance and Installation, Configuration & Validation is combined into Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration in the new curriculum.

The most interesting thing to notice here are the bullet points in the new curriculum. The syllabus in this section has been designed to focus on very specific tasks. The vague and vast description earlier under old section Installation, Configuration & Validation has been deliberately removed to make the candidate score good in this section. For example, one of the bullet points on the old syllabus is "Implement backup and restore methodologies", this has been rephrased as "Implement etcd backup and restore" in the new syllabus. There cannot be a more direct way of stating that "etcd backup and restore will definitely be asked in the exam". You can easily nail this section with very less effort.

So, here are the things you should cover under Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration,

Storage(7%) = Storage(10%)

This section is more or less the same and you should cover the followings,

  • Learn how to configure applications with persistent storage

Networking(11%) + Core Concepts(19%) = Services & Networking(20%)

Core Concepts in the old syllabus was redundant as it was anyway getting covered under other sections such as Installation, Configuration & Validation and Cluster Maintenance. And hence, this section has been merged. The topics to be covered under Services & Networking in the new curriculum are,

Eliminated: Security(12%)

The Security section from the old curriculum is eliminated with RBAC moved to Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration. Network policies will be covered in connectivity between Pods under Services and Networking. The remainder syllabus can be included under Troubleshoot section.

A brief comparison table between the old and new curriculum,

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In my opinion, the updated syllabus is more direct and precise. The questions are directly implied from the syllabus. Stick to the curriculum and study to the point. Focus more on the "troubleshooting and core components" in depth rather than covering everything. The real challenge can be time as the duration of exam is now 2hrs.

With that, All the best to you!!

I have already shared my experience of CKA Certification over here.

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

P.S.: It was not possible to list down all the links that cover the syllabus. In short, go through the kubernetes concepts and complete the tasks listed here: kubernetes tasks documentation. This documentation should be the primary source of preparation for the exam.