How to Prepare for CKAD and CKA Certification - DZone DevOps (2022)

Introduction

While preparing for the CNCF's CKAD or CKA certification, there could be numerous doubts for you: which exam to appear first, what resources to refer to, what are common mistakes to avoid, etc. Especially, if you don't have previous knowledge or hands-on experience with Kubernetes, this could be a tough situation to be in. At InfraCloud, engineers are highly encouraged to appear for these exams and get certified. This blog post is a collaborative effort from the recently certified Infranauts to share all the insights straight from before registering for the exam to the next steps after clearing the exam successfully.

With around 50% developers CKA and CKAD certified, we share our experiences, study material, Do's and Dont's, FAQ, etc. about the exam. If you're willing to start your journey in Kubernetes and are aiming to be certified, you will find this blog helpful.

Shall we begin then?

CKA vs CKAD Certification! Which One Should I Take First?

First thing's first! Before thinking of CKA or CKAD, having knowledge of Kubernetes basics is crucial. If you're a complete newbie and do not know what on earth is Kubernetes, it is highly recommended to get familiar with the basic concepts of Kubernetes before you book your exam dates.

If you're starting out your journey into the cloud native and Kubernetes world, you can opt for Kubernetes For The Absolute Beginner - Hands-On by Mumshad Mannambeth course to get yourself comfortable with the basics of Kubernetes.

Although one might still get confused about which exam one should go for first: CKA or CKAD? Is CKA harder than CKAD? And what is the exact difference in terms of exam curriculum and the difficulty level of both exams? To keep things simple, you can look at it this way:

  • CKAD is for those interested in the design, build & configuration of cloud native applications using Kubernetes.
  • While CKA exam is mainly for those, who want to build, manage the Kubernetes infrastructure.

Some of us started digging deeper over the internet and eventually find out that CKAD is broadly a subset of CKA. A few Infranauts decided to prepare for CKAD first and then for CKA, as they were ultimately aiming to gain all the possible knowledge around Kubernetes. It eventually turned out to be the right decision as CKAD also helped them improve speed and muscle memory over Kubernetes commands, which is critical for both exams.

This helped them a lot in the CKA exam as most of us managed to complete almost all questions with 20-30 mins still left with us to solve the only couple of complex questions that had been flagged and skipped for later.

Study Material

Many Infranauts have taken the CKAD course by Mumshad Mannambeth available on Udemy. After clearing CKAD with that course, some of us also opted for another CKA course for the CKA certification.

The primary reason to go through these courses was the number of recommendations it had from the community. Few of the certified Infranauts had also watched a few of his videos on YouTube and always found it easy to follow. So yes, these courses are highly recommended to anyone planning to get CKA/CKAD certified.

As you might guess, this is not the only course in the market - there are plenty of them. Study materials are available in other formats like blogs, GitHub repos, YouTube videos containing different scenario-based practice questions/answers. You may choose at your own will like this one that some of us followed from Medium for the CKAD exam. You should also check out the video by Harshit Singhvi on exam experience and tips on YouTube.

(Video) Preparing for the Kubernetes Certifications - CKA & CKAD

At the end of the day, what matters the most is how much time you spend practicing different scenarios. We can't emphasize enough how important the labs are. Irrespective of the course you take, they all have labs and mock tests. Don't skip any of them. They are all equally important.

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Don't get trapped into registering the exam date six months in advance and then start the actual study. If you’re not fully prepared by the time nearing your exam date, you might get nervous and feel to postpone the exam to study more and more. This cycle never ends.
  • Even if you started late, don't be inconsistent with your study. One would study one day and skip for another two days. Don't do that. Be consistent and stick to a schedule.
  • Do NOT skip labs. One might get trapped thinking it would be nice to go through all the lectures at once and then come back to labs. Nope, not a good idea!
  • Completing a course is one thing. But you won't know how much you understand until you take the mock tests. So don't avoid taking them until you're left with last 3-4 days to study.
  • Don't keep postponing till the last day of validity of your particular exam voucher. If you delay it till the last day of the voucher, and if you couldn't clear the exam on the first attempt, you'll leave the no retake option. So, prepare, practice, and appear for the exam at least a week before the last date.

Do's for CKA and CKAD Certification

  • The most obvious one: practice, practice, and some more practice.
  • Make it a habit to take a lecture and do the lab that follows with it.
  • If possible, complete the courses first, and when you think you are ready for the exam, go ahead and apply for the certification. This gives you a year afteryou have completed the course. It is enough time to test your skills.
  • The discussions in the Slack forum of KodeKloud CKA and CKAD group also helped us play and try different variety of questions/scenarios during preparation. So, keep an eye on it. Plus, feel free to seek suggestions from the forum in case of any doubts.
  • Practice with complete commands instead of binding an `alias` for everything.
  • In each mock test, try to complete the test 15 min before the deadline. This gives you time to revisit the questions.
  • Monitor your time as you practice.
  • Do the labs and mock tests repeatedly (at least three times). Identify what is slowing you down and plan accordingly.
  • On the day of the exam, make sure to clean your desk and not have anything (apart from a transparent water bottle).
  • On the exam day, keep an alternative internet source handy in case of Wi-Fi internet goes down (trust me, it happens more than you believe).
  • In the exam, if you analyze that any particular question is going to take more than 6-7 mins to solve, flag/mark it to solve for later and come back once you solve the rest.

Don'ts for CKA and CKAD Certification

  • Don't overwhelm yourself with an `alias` for everything.
  • Don't panic if you are stuck; simply flag/mark the particular question and move ahead. You can always come back to it later.
  • Don't give the exam on the last day (like many folks do).
  • At the time of the exam, other than your system, don't have anything on the table.
  • Don't overkill yourself with Kubernetes the Hard Way unless you have time.
  • Don't ignore the candidate handbook. Read it and follow the instructions.

Final Tips & Tricks

  • The exam clusters are set up with kubeadm mostly in the Ubuntu environment.
  • Do check out the CKA and CKAD environment details and practice accordingly.
  • Try to use auto-completion while running Kubernetes commands.
  • It will be much more helpful and effective in the exam.
  • Here is how you can set up the auto-completion:
$ alias k='kubectl'$ source <(kubectl completion bash)$ echo "source <(kubectl completion bash)" >> ~/.bashrc$ complete -F __start_kubectl k
  • The above commands can be found in the kubectl cheat sheet. And, yes you can use them (some of us have used them ourselves), as they are listed in the docs.
  • As you do your labs, you must search the docs. Especially for resources like PV, PVC, Ingress, RBAC resources, etc.
  • This trains your brain to remember the correct links, in case you need to refer to the docs during the exam. Saves a lot of time.
  • If you have time during preparation, take both the courses CKA and CKAD. This will surely help.
  • Get familiar with vi or vim. We're not sure if nano will be available, so prefer vi or vim. GNU Emacs is available but the usual key bindings like C-p, C-n don't work inside most of the browsers.
  • You don't need tmux or screen, if you have saved your aliases or other bash settings in ~/.bashrc.
  • Get used to pasting text using the mouse middle/center key. The mouse secondary key doesn't work in the exam environment.

Useful Commands

Here is a nonextensive list of commands that you will definitely need during practice or exam:

# list running processes$ ps -aux# search for string in the output$ ps -aux | grep -i 'string'# search for multiple expressions in the output (exp can be plain a string too)$ ps -aux | grep -e 'exp-one' -e 'exp-two'# get details about network interfaces$ ifconfig# list network interfaces and their IP address$ ip a# get the route details$ ip r# check service status and also show logs$ systemctl status kubelet# restart a service$ systemctl restart kubelet# reload the service daemon, if you changed the service file$ systemctl daemon reload# detailed logs of the service$ journalctl -u kubelet# list out ports, protocol and what processes are listening on those ports$ netstat -tunlp

How to Book the CKA and CKAD Exams

You can book the exams from the Linux Foundation page.

Exam experience

CKAD Exam Experience

On the exam day, try to log in 15 minutes before the exam. Proctor will make sure to follow their process to check your ID proof as well as room, your desk. The entire process should normally take 15-20 minutes or more, but don't panic as the proctor will only start the exam after all the verification process is complete and you're comfortable to start the exam. CKAD exam questions are comparatively quite straightforward, but it would be a race against time, as some of the questions will contain many Kubernetes objects creation and if you fail to create any, would take more time to debug and understand them.

CKA Exam Experience

The exam experience was a little rollercoaster ride for some of us, as we lost internet connection almost 4-5 times during the exam. Each time after the connection reset, we made sure that previous work is not lost by checking the answers to some of the previously solved questions. Proctor typically makes sure to hold your exam (to avoid time loss) and stop the timer and resume it once your connection is restored.

But this whole experience can make you nervous during and after the exam (with a nightmare of all work might be lost, resulting in failure). Few of us had practiced enough, so we were able to solve 14-15 out of 17 questions in 1.5 hours and spend the rest of almost 30 minutes to try to solve the 2-3 questions which we initially found challenging and had marked (and parked) to solve later.

(Video) Tips for Passing the CKAD and CKA Kubernetes Certifications

FAQs for the CKA and CKAD Certification

Some of the questions which crossed our minds while preparing (apart from the ones available on the official FAQ page of the Linux Foundation).

1) Can I use dual monitors in the exam?

Yes, we are allowed to use dual monitors

2) Can I bookmarks link and use them during the exam?

Yes, we are allowed to use them as long as they are referring to official Kubernetes documentation allowed for the exam

3) When would the result be out after the exam?

Results are typically out after the exact 24 hours of your examination but can get delayed till 36 hours in some cases. In case of delay, you can raise a support ticket for the same.

4) Does our work remain saved in case of internet connectivity loss?

Yes, your work gets autosaved at frequent intervals.

5) Who evaluates the CKA / CKAD / CKS exams? Humans or bots?

Automated scripts most probably evaluate them.

6) What should I be more prepared for if I get failed in my 1st attempt?

(Video) Quick guide to prepare for CKA(Certified Kubernetes Administrator)

Focus on solving all the questions and scenarios that you had found difficult in 1st attempt and the topic you found the first time during your exam.

7) Whom to reach out in case of any challenges faced during the exam?

You can raise a support ticket for the same.

8) What is the best time to book the CKA and CKAD exams?

Once you're able to solve all the labs and mock tests in less than 40-45 minutes, consider you're ready for the exam. You can also book them using the discounts available (up to 50%) during the KubeCon event and Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal sale from Linux Foundation.

9) What is the duration of the exam?

Both CKA and CKAD exams are of 2 hours once you start the exam (excluding the time required for identity verification with the proctor before you start the exam).

10) How many questions does CKAD or CKA exam contain?

Both CKA and CKAD contain 17-19 questions (approximately).

11) What is the minimum or maximum weightage of any question in the exam?

Questions’ weightage varies from 2% to 13% based on the work required to solve them.

12) Is a digital watch available on the exam console?

(Video) Kubernetes CKA/CKAD/CKS Certification Hidden Tip

Yes, a progress bar available on the top-left corner of your exam console.

13) Do we need to be more fluent in jsonpath syntax without any external website reference during the exam?

You can practice/focus on the JSON expressions captured as part of the cheat sheet, but don't spend too much time mastering JSON expressions from an exam perspective.

14) Are exam questions as difficult as one available on the killer.sh simulator?

Personally, many of us felt the actual exam was comparatively easier than killer.sh simulator.

Practice and prepare well :)

Reference links to useful materials

Bookmark

Import the Kubernetes official documentation bookmark into your chrome/any browser as it will help you search required topics faster during the exam. https://github.com/reetasingh/CKAD-Bookmarks

Recommended Articles Before the Exam

Go through the below articles at least once before the exam, as they contain some of the tricky topics from the CKA exam perspective.

Practice Material

Conclusion

Though one finds the Kubernetes exams comparatively hard as these are practical exams, if you practice enough and take note of the above points, you can clear them easily; irrespective of whether you have had previous experience with Kubernetes or not.

We hope this helps you plan and prepare better for the CKA and CKAD certification exams.

We will be happy to answer any other questions.

FAQs

How do I prepare for CKAD certification? ›

Preparing for the exam

Another very useful source is practice problems given under https://www.katacoda.com/liptanbiswas/courses/ckad-practice-challenges. But if you are not very familiar with kubernetes itself, then you should consider getting some training on the topics which are covered under the exam.

Is CKAD harder than CKA? ›

Not having difficult topics related to cluster administration does not make CKAD easier. You only get 2 hours to complete the test, while the CKAD allows 3 hours. During the CKA exam, I had some time to go over the results, while during the CKAD, I didn't have enough time to complete all the tasks.

Should I do CKA or CKAD first? ›

If you just need to try Kubernetes Certification and get one quickly, I'd say go for CKAD. As it's easier to prepare and crack, compared to CKA. If you really want to learn Kubernetes well, go for CKA. I think all system administrators and operations engineers should target CKA.

How difficult is CKAD certification? ›

The certification was indeed initially valid for 2 years, before it was extended to 3 years in January to match other CNCF and Linux Foundation certifications. To be honest, something else made me postponing this task indefinitely - the CKAD and CKA exams are known to be very hard.

How long does it take to study for CKAD? ›

This CKAD Exam study guide will help you prepare for the Certified Kubernetes Developer (CKAD) exam with all the required resources. CKAD is one of the best Kubernetes certifications focused on the development aspects of Kubernetes.
...
CKAD Exam details.
Exam Duration2 hours
Exam Cost375 USD
3 more rows
Dec 16, 2021

How many days preparation is required for CKA exam? ›

3 months, 1 hour each day is a relatively comfortable pace for people who also have a regular daily job to do while preparing for the exam. You won't feel much stress during the preparation if you adopt this timeline. The key is sticking to the plan, making sure you follow the steps to practice every single day.

Which Kubernetes certification is best for Devops engineer? ›

Certified Kubernetes Associate Certification works well for you if you already have working experience as a Kubernetes Cluster Administrator, Software Developer, Software engineer, System administrator, Linux administrator, Cloud administrator, Principal Software Engineer, Cloud Professionals or Technical Lead.

How long is CKA valid? ›

Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) certification is now valid for 3 years. In 2017, CNCF launched the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam which has become one of the most popular Linux Foundation certifications to date.

How many questions is the CKAD exam? ›

It is a hands-on exam with 19 questions and an estimate of 2 hours to complete. It is advisable to read, practice and ensure you have the knowledge required to design, build, deploy, and configure cloud native applications for Kubernetes before taking the CKAD exam.

Is CKAD open book exam? ›

The main reason is, unlike other MCQ ( Multiple Choice Questions ) exams, CKAD is a hands on exam where you need to demonstrate your K8s skills on one or more live environments. It is also an open book kind of an exam where you are allowed to refer K8s documentation (only one tab ).

Is CKS harder than CKA? ›

Is it harder than CKA? Exam difficulty is obviously going to be a subjective feeling, so I'll be speaking purely personal feelings here. When comparing it to its CKA companion, which I found to be quite straightforward, the CKS exam definitely felt harder in comparison.

Which certification is good for Kubernetes? ›

What are the Best Kubernetes Certifications?
  • Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) CKA is my #1 choice for Kubernetes certification. ...
  • Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) ...
  • Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) ...
  • Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA)
Jul 26, 2022

Is CKAD exam multiple choice? ›

Unlike other certification exams, the CKAD exam is 100% hands-on. You are not expected to select one or many answers from a multiple choice question but instead solve problems on a Kubernetes cluster. Each question focuses on a practical aspect of Kubernetes and applying it to real-world use cases.

How many times can you take CKA exam? ›

Candidates will have two attempts (per exam registration). Each attempt grants 36 hours of access starting from the time of activation.

How do I pass the CKA exam? ›

To pass the CKA, practice, practice, and when you are done practicing, practice one more time. The etcd key-value store is the only stateful element in the control plane. So you need to be careful with it. If you do anything on the etcd , always ensure the cluster comes back up.

How difficult is Kubernetes developer certification? ›

Kubernetes is hard, and so is getting certified on the container orchestration technology, but there are some surefire resources, tips, and tricks that will help you pass the tough exams.

Is the CKA exam worth it? ›

They test you on the practical aspects of the technology rather than asking some multiple-choice questions that you can cram, regurgitate, and then completely forget about later. That is the prime reason why these certificates are valuable in the industry and you won't regret having one.

What is DevOps engineer salary? ›

An entry level devops engineer (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of ₱428,158. On the other end, a senior level devops engineer (8+ years of experience) earns an average salary of ₱758,754.

Which certificate is best for DevOps? ›

What are the Best DevOps Certifications?
  • Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) ...
  • Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) ...
  • Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) ...
  • Kubernetes and Cloud-Native Associate (KCNA) ...
  • Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) ...
  • AWS Cloud & DevOps Certifications.

Does DevOps need coding? ›

Does DevOps Need Coding? Yes. Usually. Applications deliver what the code tells them to.

How much does CKAD cost? ›

Exam details

The cost is $395 and includes one free retake. For questions on the exam, please reach out. Quarterly exam updates are planned to match Kubernetes releases. Please see the FAQ for the current exam environment version.

How much does the CKA exam cost? ›

The cost is $395 and includes one free retake. For questions on the exam, please reach out.
...
The certification exam tests specific domains and competencies including:
DomainWeight
System Hardening15%
Minimize Microservice Vulnerabilities20%
4 more rows

What comes after CKA? ›

Once you have earned your CKA, you can go on to the recently released Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS). This certification focuses on the many facets of securing your Kubernetes environment, from securing the cluster itself to securing the application code running in your cluster.

Is security part of CKA exam? ›

Security section is still important for the CKA exam. Topics like Network policy, RBAC, kubeconfig etc.

Who is CKAD for? ›

The Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) exam certifies that candidates can design, build and deploy cloud-native applications for Kubernetes.

Is Kubernetes enough to get a job? ›

“With the abundant documentation, code, development tools, and environments available online, teaching yourself Kubernetes is very much within reach.” Yes, production experience will get you a leg up with hiring managers. But everyone has to start somewhere.

Is Kubernetes a good career? ›

Kubernetes skills are the most in demand for modern operational roles, such as devops and site reliability engineering (SRE) jobs. These are also the roles where the money is. In the United States, 95% of devops practitioners made more than $75,000 a year in salary in 2020, up from 93% in 2019.

What skills are needed for Kubernetes? ›

“There are a lot of resources to help get started with the basics of containers and Kubernetes concepts, which is a good starting point. But Kubernetes requires a fairly advanced skill set—it's very useful to be familiar with Linux, cloud, and DevOps methodologies/tooling before starting with Kube.”

Do we get partial marks in CKAD? ›

You can get partial credit for tasks. I took the CKA and CKAD tests and the scores I received didn't match up with what tasks I'd completed. As several folks have recommended, I used the notepad feature to number the tasks, 1-24 for CKA and 1-19 for CKAD, then noted the percentage allocated for each task.

How difficult is Kubernetes developer certification? ›

Kubernetes is hard, and so is getting certified on the container orchestration technology, but there are some surefire resources, tips, and tricks that will help you pass the tough exams.

Is CKAD open book? ›

The main reason is, unlike other MCQ ( Multiple Choice Questions ) exams, CKAD is a hands on exam where you need to demonstrate your K8s skills on one or more live environments. It is also an open book kind of an exam where you are allowed to refer K8s documentation (only one tab ).

How many questions is the CKAD exam? ›

This prep exam has 30 multiple-choice questions with 90 minutes allotted to complete. Some questions have one correct answer, while others require you to choose more than one correct answer. The questions on this exam focus on the CKAD curriculum categories listed below: Core Concepts.

Is CKAD exam multiple choice? ›

Unlike other certification exams, the CKAD exam is 100% hands-on. You are not expected to select one or many answers from a multiple choice question but instead solve problems on a Kubernetes cluster. Each question focuses on a practical aspect of Kubernetes and applying it to real-world use cases.

Is Kubernetes enough to get a job? ›

“With the abundant documentation, code, development tools, and environments available online, teaching yourself Kubernetes is very much within reach.” Yes, production experience will get you a leg up with hiring managers. But everyone has to start somewhere.

Which Kubernetes certification is best for Devops engineer? ›

Certified Kubernetes Associate Certification works well for you if you already have working experience as a Kubernetes Cluster Administrator, Software Developer, Software engineer, System administrator, Linux administrator, Cloud administrator, Principal Software Engineer, Cloud Professionals or Technical Lead.

Does CKA expire? ›

CKA and CKAD Certifications are valid for 3 years. CKS Certification is valid for 2 years.

Videos

1. Kubernetes Certification Overview | CKA | CKAD | Kubernetes Exams
(LearnITGuide Tutorials)
2. How to Pass the CKA EXAM Certified Kubernetes Administrator in 2022?
(Cloud Guru)
3. Get Ready for the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) Exam - DevOps Training
(Cloud Academy)
4. Webinar: CKA / CKAD
(CNCF [Cloud Native Computing Foundation])
5. Kubernetes Certification: CKAD September Updates and Study Guide!
(KodeKloud)
6. Kubernetes 101 [PDC Tech Carnival 20]
(Pune Developer's Community)

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