CKA Exam Tips for Kubernetes 1.19

I previously wrote about my first CKA exam attempt, I wanted to share things I’ve reflected on and plan to change for my second attempt. I hope these tips will be helpful for others to learn ahead of time to successfully pass their exam on the first attempt.

Time Management

The CKA Exam is not hard and is one of the best certification exams I’ve taken because it tests fundamental skills a Kubernetes admin would need to know. With 15-20 questions and 2 hours to complete all scenarios, you have 6-8 minutes per question. So it’s important to know your way around a Kubernetes cluster and have a lot of muscle memory typing the commands and using shortcuts to make skeleton YAML files.

Get Small Victories Early

Easy scenarios like creating or scaling a deployment will only take 10 seconds or so — it’s important to bank that extra time for the troubleshooting questions or unexpected issues that arise. Going through each question and finding the small victories will also help your confidence and calm your nerves!

Don’t Forget to Change Contexts

Each question will utilize a different context so be sure to copy and paste that context before starting the question! Either you won’t be able to complete the questions without the correct context or you’ll create new resources in the wrong context and the question will be marked wrong even if you successfully completed the task.

There’s Enough to Type – Use Copy & Paste

Exam user interface screenshot from CKA Candidate Handbook

Time is very limited here — always use the copy button next to the command to set the context or in the task for the resource names that need to be created. There’s no need to increase errors or waste time typing obscure context or deployment names when the exam interface provides this functionality.

Smart Bookmarks

For those getting started with the CKA, you’re allowed to have one extra tab open during the exam and can access any page and associated sub domains on https://kubernetes.io/docs/, https://github.com/kubernetes/, or https://kubernetes.io/blog/. I personally used the docs and didn’t consult the GitHub page or the blog.

You can’t know everything and it’s great that CNCF provides this capability but you can’t bookmark every single possible task and hope to rely on it during the exam. I recommend to keep your bookmarks limited and strategic. Below are the ones that I used and recommend.

Recommended Links and Bookmarks

There’s a comprehensive bookmark list available here that has links to every task and/or objective for the CKA exam. Use it as a quick reference tool while studying but don’t make it the bookmark list you use for the exam. There’s simply too many there and will feel heavy and cumbersome.

The kubectl cheat sheet covers many common commands used to interact with a Kubernetes cluster and the syntax for JSONPath and custom-columns output.

Creating persistent storage and it’s related resources are the only things that come to mind that can’t be created with a command then outputted to a file for customization. It’s challenging to me — there’s multiple steps for creating a persistent volume, persistent volume claim, and/or a storage class then enabling a pod to utilize the PVC.

Deploying a CNI is an exam task but to keep the documentation vendor agnostic, it doesn’t include instructions on installing each individual CNI. But there is one backdoor in the documentation and there is an example used to deploy weave!

I hope these tips help you achieve your CKA! If you have any questions, comments, or if you recently passed the CKA I’d love to hear from you!

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