GCP Certified: Passing the GCP Professional Cloud Architect Exam

Antoni Tzavelas
May 8, 2018 · 5 min read

Lately I’ve been feeling the pinch to get my Google Cloud Certifications, due to the increasing demand of GCP projects coming down the pipe at work. The skillset is truly needed to build customer solutions on the platform, and of course, we’re all out to the help the customer. So down the rabbit hole I went!

There are 2 current certifications for Google Cloud.

Google Cloud Architect

Google Cloud Data Engineer

I decided to start on the Cloud Architect track as most of my experience come from an operations background. I also had heard that the platform is very similar to AWS (and it totally is with a few minor differences) which really captured my attention, as I hold 7/9 AWS certifications .

Exam Preparation

Concepts you should understand for this exam include

  • Design and plan a cloud solution architecture
  • Manage and provision the cloud solution infrastructure
  • Design for security and compliance
  • Analyze and optimize technical and business processes
  • Manage implementations of cloud architecture
  • Ensure solution and operations reliability

This exam objectively measures an individual’s ability to demonstrate the critical job skills for the role.

Key items you should know before you take the exam

  • Compute Engine — This is a big part of GCP. Know it well. VM’s, Preemptibilty, Snapshots, Templates, Images, Disks, Zones, Health Checks, etc… Here is a resource that helped me with this
  • Region vs Multi-Region — Learn which resources can be used for multi-region and those that cannot.
  • Learn which storage options are used for each use case — This awesome flow chart really helped me understand the different storage options and what service to use for different scenarios
  • When to use SQL over NoSQL — Learn which services support SQL and those that support NoSQL
  • What is Datastore vs BigTable vs BigQuery — How much data can each hold? How do they scale? What are the common use cases? Make sure you know the differences between these products and you don’t slip up when it comes to an exam question asking exactly that.
  • Cost — Learn how to save money when using different architectures to end up saving the most (i.e. Coldline is always cheaper than Nearline)
  • Stackdriver — Learn what it can and can’t do. I ran into a few questions that asked if Stackdriver could be a solution for things it couldn’t do.
  • Architecture — I personally found that this was the most important part of the exam, as you will need to know what type of architecture is needed for specific use cases. KNOW THIS. Here is a great link from Google’s Project Treehouse website that shows different solutions for different use cases. Understand these, at least at a high level.It will really help you out in the exam.

Study Resources

— These are a must read for the exam. Google recommends that you review them as they will be referenced. I now know why. Half of my exam referred to these and so I’m glad I went over them thoroughly.

— This is a valuable resource and do not take it for granted! I was able to answer 90% of these questions correctly before deciding to write the exam. Be sure you’re able to do the same, as this is an accurate assessment of your knowledge on GCP. You can take it as many times as you’d like, for every answer you get wrong, be sure to go back into the documentation and lookup the services that you need to work on before writing. An incredible gift from Google, in my opinion.

— A great study guide for those just getting started on the platform. This 6 course series are filled with videos, diagrams and labs that will definitely get you ready fro the exam.

— Absolutely incredible 3 part series that covers all parts of the platform much more in depth than the Coursera course (I went through both courses). does an amazing job at explaining GCP in a way that anyone can understand. I am certain that this course is what gave me the confidence to write the exam sooner than later. Highly recommended.

— A hidden gem that is filled with a plethora of flowcharts that cover a lot of different areas within the platform.

— For those of you with an extensive background in AWS (like me) check out this great resource from Google that will give you the AWS service and the equivalent service on GCP in detail.

— Get your hands dirty! The best way to learn is to dive into the great depths of GCP. Click around the console, look at menu’s and do some labs on difficult concepts. You could even go outside of the regular labs and create a project for yourself. I find the best way, is to create a simple FT/Multi-AZ website that’ll get your bearings on how things work.

— And of course you can’t forget the obvious. Be sure to take a look at the different products you are studying, and try to identify the quirks on how each resource works. Resizing clusters, best practices, design patterns, use cases, etc…

Exam Tips

  • I found that knowing how to architect on GCP was very valuable. There were quite a bit of questions that supplied you with key words that would steer you towards what the answer would be. If you study this, the answers to these questions will be a piece of cake.
  • CASE STUDIES!!! Study them. Know them. Linux academy’s 3rd course is filled with tons of good tips on these case studies and what type of architecture they would use and why.
  • When the case studies came up, be prepared for when they give you a split screen to do your work in. I know some people panicked, when it happened. Don’t panic. You can make the screen smaller by dragging it
  • Did I mention, “Don’t Panic”. There are going to be questions that stump you, or you just may not know the answer at that time. Take a deep breath, and relax. It’ll come to you. If it doesn’t, flag it, and move on to the next question.
  • 60 questions in 2 hours — This is plenty of time to complete the exam. I managed to finish with 45min left to review.

The tips given above is all the information I have used to pass the exam, as an AWS Professional. Although it may be different for each person, the content of the exam should be very similar. Be sure to get some time with “hands on keyboard”.

GCP is a new realm in cloud where I find that AWS architects can really shine, as the platforms are very similar. I’m hoping that my tips will help people pass the exam, and please let me know if I should add anything else to this list.

Good luck!

Antoni Tzavelas

Written by

Out to simplify and inspire with bowties. Senior Cloud and DevOps Engineer @ Slalom Consulting. Advocate and Architect for all things cloud.