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CKAD – Certified Kubernetes Application Developer in fifty dollars

I begin with stating that the title is a click bait and my playing around with words. I apologies for it and I hope you would stick around to read how I completed the CKAD Exam[1] with 96% marks by doing these simple yet efficient steps.

About the Exam (a summary)

Linux foundation / CNCF has come up with number of certifications. I do not want to explain why I gave this exam, I just did because I wanted to learn kubernetes – not because what others would say about it.

There are number of certifications – CKAD (for developers), CKA (for administrators), CKS (for devops or security experts) with the kubernetes space. Here I am talking about CKAD – the first and what is considered to be the one to start with.

  • Exam comprise of 19 questions and time of 2hrs to attempt all of them.
  • It is not an exam where you can cram all the knowledge and vomit it just by filling bubbles (or answering MCQ). It is a total hands on exercise and the time is of most essence.
  • You need to be proficient with VIM or NANO (the two editors you can use in the exam)
  • You need to be proficient with kubectl commands and not always work with the kubernetes object yaml.
  • Some linux commands like wget / nc / curl are also important to know
  • You can take it from your home, but they have very strict rules. Even company laptops seems to have problem, so see if you can take on a personal macbook/notebook.
  • CKAD is valid for 3yrs and CKA/CKS is valid for 2yrs (at the time of writing)
  • Always check which version of kubectl is being used (I gave it on 1.19). As twice an year Kubernetes will have a update, it is important to book your exam accordingly.

Why this certification

Passion vs Desperation

I think everyone in their job, when either get Passionate about something or Desperate about something, achieve something extraordinary. Same was my journey towards CKAD. I was sure that I will get into the regular coding/developing way to kubernetes at work, but somewhat that felt slow compared to how fast our tech industry is growing. I wanted to get fire in my belly to have some goal for learning at much faster pace. And active learn from a passive watcher.

The whole act was in my case passionate if not really desperate to get the certification. To an extend writing this blog, now I feel somewhat sad that the developer journey has ended, though there are lot to do.

Company support

The access to Pluralsight at our company started the initial journey of going through the first course from Dan Wahil’s [2]. It gave a very basic introduction of the core concepts for kubernetes. For me it helped to kick start the whole journey.

New World Order Learning

There are lot of forums for learning now, there is of course Pluralsight as I said before, but I also like Udemy style of course, where you pay for a single course (& mostly at discounted price). Classroom style training isn’t for me and I believe these recordings which can be listen at original speed or at 2x speed transforms how we were learning.

Mumshad Mannambeth Course [3]

This course is a must for passing the exam. This should be the next logical step towards preparing yourself for the certification. It is a well defined, slow & self paced for the course which definitely helped me in getting into that drive for certification.

Actually you will join their slack channel and see every day one of the other person posting about clearing the CKAD exam (or even CKA) – you would start feeling sometimes confident about clearing, sometime irked that it is taking you too long to get to that stage. Stay your course no matter what happens and do read about others experience.

Practice Practice Practice

Trust me nothing can prepare you, more than you yourself. I have added the one github repo [4] in the reference section below, which is the most popular one. There are several others people like to go through, but for me it was sufficient whenever I do not want to see recording but just want to practice whether I still remember the commands.

There are numerous other ways to actually go practice – one definite way is work on an actual project which involves Kubernetes – not sure possible for everyone. I too end up volunteering for a team which really helps.

Killer.sh simulator (optional)

I still keep this [4] here because it helped in preparing my mind to sit through 2hour of mindful questions. Especially with whole day meetings and covid-lockdowns, it has always been challenging to sit that long and keep the concentration/bulb-switched-on.

Secondly, time management is crucial and I was able to practice that a great deal. These guys are basically super awesome:

  • First time I practice the shell froze – I took screenshot and they gave me another free sim to start the test all over again.
  • Even after the test is over – for 36hrs the landscape is available – practice all questions again if you feel like.
  • (God forbid) One fails in the exam, they are giving the simulator again for free.

The questions are tougher because they ask to do more things than the actual exam would ask.

(Pro Exam Tip) Read the questions carefully

None of the content which I did prepared me for actual questions Language. May be it has to do with how American English is spoken or the questions felt too long.

  • Read the question carefully.
  • If the percentage is 2-3% and you have to read question that it requires scrolling, skip it.
  • The screen would feel different to killer.sh sim, so give yourself time to adjust – reading question and scrolling till the end is necessary.

Had I not prepared this well and would have been nervous, this here would have been my downfall.

Preparation

Vimtutor

Even though I knew some of the commands, as I don’t use VIM in regular day-today activity, I had played around with it to rekindle the love with VIM.

Kubectl

For almost all kubernetes object you can actually do something like kubectl <object> -h | more which will give you the first part of help where examples are given. If you tend to forget like I do (especially between deployment and pod creation), this is the way.

Using alias for faster typing

For ~/.bashrc

alias k=’kubectl’

alias kn=’kubectl config set-context –current –namespace ‘

export do=”–dry-run=client -o yaml”

For ~/.vimrc

set paste

set number

set expandtab

set tabstop=2

set shiftwidth=2

Time spend to prepare

Can’t tell you this because everyone takes their own speed. Just one thing – once you start the MM Udemy course, do not stop and book exam say 2 weeks from the time you feel ready.

During the exam

Use the Notepad to write down the alias because some people can lose it if the shell restart/reset. It is better to just keep it. It didn’t happen to me in exam but happened in killer.sh sim. Safe than be sorry.

There are 4 clusters, so switch context is important. This part is ALWAYS given at the top of the question. The tricky part is NAMESPACE. DO NOT FORGET TO SWITCH namespaces. If it is not specified it is default. Remember that – this is where the exam want one to fall trap to.

Don’t get nervous if you feel something completely unexpected has come – something you haven’t prepared. I had one such situation, I skipped the question at first and then came back to solve it. Turns out – it was just too simple.

Based on your Killer.sh speed you can take a risk of verifying each answer. I did it because I knew I was fast enough. First 14 questions in 1hr and I had gone through all 19 questions. Then completed the 4 relatively long language questions in 40mins, the toughest of the lot took the last 20 mins (actually 10, I was trying to find a way in last 10 mins to validate the results even though I did the first time). How to validate is what you will learn in MM’s course with solutions & with practice.

Why Fifty Dollars?

Oh the Killer.sh + Udemy course costed that much in total – the exam is actually much costly 🙂

  • The exam is a necessary expenditure.
  • I was just talking about the addons.

 

Leave comments and I am happy to help, though the MM slack channel is better. What I will not do is share what question comes – it is both not in the ethical spirit as well as the NDA signed when accepting the CKAD exams. 

 

My Certificate & Passing Marks

References

[1] CKAD Exam: https://www.cncf.io/certification/ckad/ (Costs $300)

  • Buy the certificate during 4th of July or Thanksgiving sale – 40-50% discount always

[2] Dan Wahil’s : Kubernetes for Developers: Core Concepts

[3] Mumshad Mannambeth Udemy CKAD Course

[4] CKAD Exercises / Repo: GitHub Repo of CKAD Questions

[5] Killer.sh simulator (optional)

 

Glossary

[1] CKAD – Certified Kubernetes Application Developer

[2] CKA – Certified Kubernetes Administrator

[3] CKS – Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist

[4] MM – Mumshad Mannambeth

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