Things to know before taking Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) Exam

I think everyone who takes the CKA exam has already worked with Kubernetes at least for some time because I believe it is just much easier to practice it while working with it than sitting there and reading the documentation or following tutorials. If you used Kubernetes on production for at least one year, you should be just fine for CKA. But there are couple of things to know that will make your scores higher and guarantee you a passing score.

It took me about four weeks to prepare for the exam because I already have experience with Kubernetes API and it’s concepts. Most of that time I spent on learning spinning up a brand new Kubernetes cluster myself on multiple machines.

I listed some things that would help me a lot if I knew them before the CKA exam.

Number of Problems

You have 24 problems and 180 minutes ~ 7.5 minutes per problem but obviously, that may vary because problems are of different complexity. You should spend your time wisely. Use Progress Tracking section below to be able to continue to the next problem if you feel you are stuck on a problem and come back to it later if you have some extra time left.

Progress Tracking

CKA exam will NOT show you the progress, you should do it yourself. The CKA exam allows you to write notes to a notebook, which they provide in exam’s UI. Use it wisely. Once I had my exam available, I used their Notebook to keep track of my progress. This one is quite common especially if you take non “one or multiple choice” kind of exams where the system keeps track of your progress. It helps you to see your progress and how much left to be finished. The format I used:

# - scoring - total
1 4 4
2 5 9
3 3 12
4
5
...
24

The first column is just the number of question (24 in total). The second column — scoring, is how much the problem worth and you will get that from the problem description. The third column is “total”, where you put the total scoring as you go and it will let you know what problems are already completed and how many points you already have. This little bureaucracy will help you to understand how well you are doing and come back to some problems if you decided to skip them before. It also helps you not to solve the problems in line and go back and forth as you need.

Tooling

CKA exam problems require you to be confident with a command line:

  • kubectl — this one is very important. You should be very familiar with it and be able to do almost everything it allows you to do like creating resources, updating and etc.
  • SSH and SCP — this will be used a lot and you should be familiar with it even without CKA exam.
  • nano, vi or any other editor that comes with Linux because there will be a lot of editing.
  • systemd, etcdctl, cfssl — most of them will make your life easier if you are familiar with them.

Exam Time

You may want to schedule the exam during morning hours because you are going to sit there for three hours looking straight at your monitor and not moving at all — it takes a lot of mental and physical energy and you should have it for the exam.

Practice

The main thing that can help you on the CKA exam is experience. You should be experienced with Kubernetes well enough and understand most of the concepts of it. As a good starting point, take Kelsey Hightower’s tutorial on how to spin up a Kubernetes cluster yourself https://github.com/kelseyhightower/kubernetes-the-hard-way. Try to play around and go beyond the scope of the tutorial like adding new master and worker nodes, breaking something and fixing it later — that kind of training will help you a lot on the exam.

Those are tips that would let me be more productive during the exam if I knew about them before the actual exam. I hope they help you too and if so, please clap and follow me :) Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.