Google Cloud Certifications: Study and PASS any of the 3 Exams

Introduction

I’m talking about all 3 Google Cloud exams; you will find simple considerations, drawn from experience, to choose and prepare the exam in a fast, cheap and engaging way. It is quite different from the other posts on this topic.

Anyway, I will NOT repeat what you can and have to read here.

By the way, just for motivation, I just got 3 cloud certs in 1 month. And I have a normal intelligence but a nice steadiness and willpower. 
That simply means: anyone can do it, with a limited but constant effort.

Post Organization

I write just the way I’d like to read.
With a defined structure that let you to choose quickly what is interesting or new.

An Introduction: what we are talking about and what we aim to achieve.

The Main Points: exposed and explained in the more intuitive, simple and concise way that I am capable of.
You may easily skip some of them, if you already know better,
saving time.

At the end the Conclusion, logical and according to desired achievements.
At the very last, a bit of Italy.
Illogically.

Easy or tough?

With all due respect, this is really a stupid question.

Like for all kind of exams, if you are prepared it is quite easy, otherwise it is just impossible. 
The real question is: how far you have to go deep? Cloud Computing is huge. Well, we will get into it extensively in the next point.

Just for relief I can say that all the proofs are challenging enough to be prestigious, but really accessible to a wide audience.

Study Material

My warm advice is to study following the official Google documentation. It may sound strange but, believe me, is the best method.

I explain you why:

  • It is always updated and the links are always maintained
  • It’s really well done with clear logic and the ability to reach the content type and level of detail you want
  • The section called Concepts always contains an intuitive explanations and…it covers about 80% of what you need to know for the exams!
  • If you need to deepen some aspects there are other nice sections (next paragraph)
  • Getting to know official docs will be a HUGE benefit AFTER certification

Any Topic contains:

  • Concepts: intuition and explanations
  • Quick starts: first operational steps
  • How-to Guides: the most common operations..step by step
  • Tutorials: more extensive examples
  • Reference: everything

You must have a general understanding of:

For all these topics, read the Concepts section a couple of times. You may use as a reference, for anything that you already don’t know, this document: Building Blocks.

Get the free Tier and $300 credit.

Get a Qwiklabs account: Codelabs are nice, open and free, you are going to pay only if you do them with the Qwiklabs platform. But you will learn more if you follow them with the free account.
Be operative to a minimum, just to get a general idea: do not face any technical problems: you do not need it for the exam, it may be fun, but you waste time. When you will have the big picture, everything will be much easier.

As soon as you get this basic knowledge, study with practice questions. At the beginning you will not be able to answer and you will need to get back to the documentation or to the Building Blocks.
But in a short time you will fly.

And now an outline of the individual exams that share a common basis but have some important differences.

Professional Cloud Architect
It is the most classic exam. Based on scenarios: you we need point out solutions that require the use of multiple products.
Important: never to the code level. It is necessary to deepen Containers / Kubernetes, Scalability, Network, Storage, Data and Analytics.
You have to understand what DataFlow, Pub/Sub, BigData and ML products are.

Associate Cloud Engineer
New exam, more operational than the previous one. There are no scenarios.
You must be familiar with gcloud and Kubernetes commands
Understand well logic and scope of commands.
If you do not know well Kubernetes you definitively have to start watching this video.
Luckily Google uses always strict and honest logic. So if you grasp the logic you don’t have to remember everything.

Professional Data Engineer
To face this exam you need to have real and sound experience with data.
For example, you need to be really familiar with advanced SQL. There may be some other code to control. Find the logic and GO.
DataFlow all over and, and Machine Learning at a deeper level than you expect in the Cloud environment.
I recommend a look at the free Machine Learning Crash Course, avoiding the big formulas, which you do not need.

For all the exams you must have an idea of the Service Costs. But it’s really easy and fun. https://cloud.google.com/products/calculator/. This tool allows you to calculate the costs of every service in various configurations.

As soon as you can, start imagining doing something and find out the costs of the different alternatives. You will have nice surprises.
The best of all is that, with a little attention and fantasy, you can build fantastic apps at no cost. Up to you!

How to read

Reading as you were taught at school is the best way to whisper to your mind …. fly elsewhere. So, you have to develop a method. I will explain mine.

0. Before reading: have an idea of all the subject, which are the main topics and why they are important.

1. first reading: visualize what you read, in your own way. For each sentence construct a graph or a mind map with the subject at the center and around actions, constraints, goals and results. With funny puppets, if you like.
And at the end of each paragraph review your schema and ask yourself if you understood all the concepts. 
For each abbreviation and concept that you don’t understand, go deep: in this document you will find all the products and concepts that you may need.

2. second reading: a quick peek but try to focus immediately the important issues and words (no yellow highlighter, just your mind)

3. flash cards: mental or written … as you prefer. Glancing the cheat sheet you have to visualize the big and deep picture underneath.

In short: BE ACTIVE

By the way, I am a fast learner because I used to be a cunning teenager.
My parents gave me money for high school books, money that I used to
buy everything but books.
But I had to perform good enough at school, so I had to grasp what to study and use whatever I could.
No web, unluckily.
In short I developed an active, fast and forwarding way of studying.
Luckily.

I have no TIME!

This is one of my favorite topics. Change just a small habit to obtain new time. Think about your usual routine (work and weekend) and change something that could give you just half an hour a day for the study.
For example:

  • Commute or go to work with a colleague (phone or kindle in your pocket)
  • Give up some TV
  • Use a piece of your lunch time
  • Get to sleep earlier and wake up 30 minute in advance (and study in your cozy bed)

Make an easy start but be consistent.
Don’t procrastinate and don’t try to schedule impossible commitments. NEVER.

Plan just a small amount of time…but every day and for months.

When you have some problem and you have to stop for a while…start it again as soon as possible.

If you’ll manage to do so, you will like it and you, definitely, will find more time.
Being capable to create small new habits is magicbut it is not easy.
Very few succeed in that. Be one of them!

Calm down

Learn to be calm: it is really important for both the study and the exam. And breathing deeply or meditating works only for the short term.

  1. Keep in mind that being nervous is a waste of time and life.
  2. The main mistake, when we get angry, is to blame others. You may be right, but in any case, you lost. 
    Learn to calm down quickly and think how to turn the situation to your advantage.
  3. Improve relationships with people close to you. They are the most frequent source of nervousness and it is obviously wrong because they are important.
  4. If you have a real problem in your mind go and solve it. Never use palliatives. Go to the heart of things.
    If your issue is out of your control, find the best way to create a health distance.

Anyway, study and focus on something is a wonderful way to get back in control. Improve your concentration, learning how to focus actively (read the section on reading);

And sleep enough and well: sleep is the best friend of the mind.
Want to know more?:
Barbara Oakley: “Learning How to Learn” | Talks at Google

Why you have to get prepared quickly enough

For quick I mean a few months and not years.
In one year the exam and the platform may change, and you are forced to start over.
Not good.

Socialize

We are social animals and people have a huge influence on us.
Discussing a topic of interest with a stimulating and smart person is one of the the best way to promote your personal growth and motivation.
If you do not know anyone, find them. The communities are there for that.
Google has a remarkable network of communities: Google Developer Group and Google Cloud Platform Community.
Lots of smart people close to you and ready to interact with you.

Exam behavior

Training with Questions is useful not only for learning, but for getting into the exam, too.
You HAVE to develop an exam Questions reading technique. It is often advised to read them twice. Correct, but I do it with some variations:

  • I glance both question and answers, without reading them. I catch only the special words (for example: fast, milliseconds, convenient, SQL, analytics, NOT…); in the background the mind gets automatically the right information.
  • Then I read, caring only to focus with my best attention. Twice. No emotion. No other thoughts or fear.
  • Last, I choose wrong answers first and then then right answer/s.
  • If I have any doubts, I answer, mark for review and go ahead.

There is plenty of time. In this way you are not wasting any second and you will may review all the marked items.

The language of the questions is not always very clear.
In this case, mark for review and at the second reading it will be clearer; don’t ask me why, I don’t know.

It is impossible to get wrong missing some question with multiple answer (you just cannot go on) and there is always a strict logic; Google is honest with that. No traps.

You are certified: now what?

Like any other important achievement, you have to arrive here already prepared to the next step
Before the actual exam, you must ask yourself what you will use it for (a better work experience, a round of conferences, experiences abroad … whatever you want).

After the exam, celebrate, relax a little, order the free clothing with the word “Google Cloud Certified” and start taking new actions towards the next goal.

P.S: Inside the mail “Congratulations: You are Google Cloud Certified” there will be a link to the Google Cloud Certification Perks Webstore where you may choose your prize and …among them.. SOCKS marked Certified !!!

Conclusion

Cloud certifications could be a little overrated. But is worth doing them.

They allow you to learn something new and amazing and to achieve greater social consideration, therefore better self-confidence.
Moreover, preparation becomes a personal growth plan and, with little effort, may help you to CHANGE for the better. MOVE !!
 
This is what I tried to outline and give to you.

In bocca al lupo, ciao!