CKAD (Certified Kubernetes Application Developer) exam is really hard; harder than you think it can be. I made some terrible mistakes while taking the exam albeit I passed the exam in first attempt. But then, I don't want you to go through the pain and stress that I have been through which i think is totally unwarranted. This post is a collection of ideas and advises that I would vouch for based on my very own experience in taking the exam. So go through the checklist to check how prepared you are to take the examination.
- Prepare a checklist of topics to cover for the examination and make sure you learn all the topics to the extent that you understand it conceptually, appreciate its existence, the options it has etc. Do not skip any topic. Nothing is too difficult.
ProTip: Making a check-list of topics to prepare, on your own is time-consuming and you may possibly make a mistake of committing a topic or including unwanted ones. Also, while the kubernetes documentation is rich enough for you to prepare for all topics, but it is not organized to help you prepare for the exam. How do you face these two challenges? It's simple, just enroll yourself in the video course titled, "Kubernetes Certified Application Developer (CKAD) with Tests" in Udemy. Mumshad Munnambeth, the author of this courses has taken the pains to make your preparation easy. Give it a try!
- Practice reinforces your learning and understanding. So do hands-on practice sessions on every topic. The aha moments comes during practice, for your understanding of a subject could well be different when you read something and you end up discovering the real reasoning or concept during your practice. With repetitive practice, you will also make it your second nature on where to look for things, how to construct, debug, edit and delete things. This my friend is called experience that you should yearn for.
- Get comfortable with CLI (command line interface) in Ubuntu. The exam is conducted in Ubuntu OS, so getting used to its CLI environment will give you no surprise at the time of test. This should jump start your practicing of kubernetes exercises.
- Get comfortable with Vim. Vim isn't as difficult as you think it to be; on the contrary, it will be your good friend. Get used to it to be productive and faster during your exam. Oh, by the way, you don't have to be a Vim champion or a Vim ninja; you just have to know enough key-board shortcuts, that likely use during your exam to be fast and productive. "Key-Board Shortcuts" is the key to speed. What would be those? You will discover it as you do your lab practices or exercises.
I have written a post titled, Essential Vim For CKAD Or CKA Exam, to help you in this, if you want a quick learning recipe on Vim.
- Get comfortable with Screen/Tmux. The exam environment browser tab has 2 panes, the pane on left will have timer ticking and the question with its weightage/score. The right pane has a terminal. Having a second terminal will come handy. The Screen/Tmux comes to your rescue for this purpose of emulating multiple terminals.
I have written a post titled, "Essential Tmux for CKAD or CKA Exam", to help you in this, if you want a quick learning recipe on Tmux.
- Know the key pages in Kubernetes Documentation and Bookmark them if that serves as quick reference should you need it during your examination. "Bookmarking" them into a folder named CKAD in your Chrome/Chromium browser, is vital. Do not underestimate its importance. Kubectl Cheatsheet is a useful one for instance. Opening bookmarked pages of official documentation is allowed and saves you a lot of time.
- Do take mock tests at least a few days before taking up the real exam. This will boost your confidence and will help in filling the gaps if any, should you introspect and act on it. And do understand that they don't mimic the exam environment and difficulty of exam questions.
- Plan and prepare your exam environment. Do you know that the exam is proctored, which means you (your desktop and your room) are being watched all through your examination duration. The exam mandates that the room is silent and is locked to prevent anyone accompanying you during the course of your examination. Also, it is important that you attend to nature's call just before the exam begins, so that you don't have the urge to visit loo during the exam. You are always free to attend to it informing your proctor during the course of your examination, but then the exam timer keeps ticking without pause. You may as well be prepared to have water in a transparent pet-bottle. No other liquids or eatables are allowed during your examination.
- Internet speed and backup. Make sure you have a backup internet connection (I would recommend a mobile internet should it meet the speed standards) just in case the primary one fails for some reason. Your internet connections (both primary and secondary) speed should be at least 500kb/s download and 250kb/s upload speed although, the recommended speed per CNCF is 5Mbps or higher download/upload speeds.
- Stay cool and stay focused during the examination. Stress will hinder your thinking and you will make more mistakes. Before you realize the time will be up leaving you frustrated. If you are stressed, try to tell yourself that you have a 2nd life to re-take the exam and that you have nothing to lose. This would relieve you of stress faster and help you start focusing on the questions at hand. And don't you worry, you won't have this kind of stress the second time, because your mind is well prepared for the environment. So learn to enjoy the experience.
After you finish your exam, it takes about 36 to 48 hours to evaluate and declare your test results. Relax until then before you either celebrate or calibrate your next steps for exam retake.
Note: As much as I'm not a fanboy of certifications in general, I do take technical certifications from time to time, just for reinforcing my understanding on the subject and the joy of going through the grind of a technical test. There sure are a lot of things that you end up learning in the process of preparing for the examination. And this should be your key reason to take the exam, for there is a sense of satisfaction that comes from learning and the certification becoming a byproduct of it.