Tips and tricks for CKA, CKAD and CKS certifications

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Staz
·May 16, 2022·

5 min read

Tips and tricks for CKA, CKAD and CKS certifications

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Table of contents

  • Time
  • Velocity
  • Space

It's been more than 4 years since I started with Kubernetes. I set myself a challenge to get the certifications recently, it was out of curiosity; I took it as a personal challenge, to know how much I know about Kubernetes and everything that revolves around it. Plus the kind of test I had to take, where it's just you and the console.

Without further ado, I will give some considerations and tips so you can get the certifications in your first attempt. I have separated them into 3: Time, Speed and Space.

Time

Each exam lasts 2 hours, approximately 15 to 22 questions (depending on the exam). The exam is made so that you will not be able to finish it, so you must manage your time well.

Tips:

  • Give priority to the questions that have higher scores.

You will see that there are questions that have a weight of 12%, 10%, 8%. These you have to do them yes or yes (it is the ideal). A common mistake is to do them in order, you may not have enough time and leave questions with high scores.

  • Use the notepad provided by the exam.

Based on the first tip, something that has worked for me is to use the notepad to write down the pending questions (not solved yet, because they have lower scores) and the percentage that each one represents. As you solve them, you update the notepad. This will help you to have an approximation of the score you are accumulating.

  • Avoid reviewing your solution if the process is long.

One thing I don't like about the exam is that the updates or changes you make to the Control Plane of your clusters take a long time and/or often get "stuck".

You will always want to verify your solution, but many times this just takes more time. I recommend that you trust yourself, practice will give you that confidence.

Velocity

You will have to be quick to try to finish all the questions, this can only be achieved with constant practice.

Tips:

  • Learn the shortcuts of the vim editor and put it into practice.

I think this is the most important thing, since most of the time you will be editing files or creating new ones. Take advantage of the shortcuts and practice a lot.

  • kubectl master

Learn the kubectl imperative commands and generate your manifests quickly by adding dry-run=client and -oyaml. This will help you generate a manifest quickly.

stazcli.png

  • Learn the structure of manifests

If you want to be faster, you will have to know very well the structure of your manifests. For example: where to place an annotation, security context, mount a volume, add labels, etc. This can only be done with practice (it takes a lot of time to search in the documentation to find out where in the manifest to add).

  • Try to use the documentation as little as possible.

In the exam you only have access to a browser tab, for CKA and CKAD only to the kubernetes documentation. Practice how to quickly search for what you need and use the right panel to go to the specifics, for example:

stazdocs.png

Still, my recommendation would be to take the exam if you are sufficiently prepared, without using the documentation. In the case of CKS it is more critical, you can use only one tab too, but they are several pages of documentation (kubernetes, apparmor, falco, trivy, sysdig). It is uncomfortable to have to use only one browser tab to switch from one documentation to another.

Space

It is important that you practice as if you were actually taking the exam.

Tips:

  • Simulate a cluster with Ubuntu servers (I will create another post for this soon, so you can do it on Windows, Linux and Mac).

  • Be very careful at exam time, to be in the right context, as you will be working with several clusters and each question may use a different cluster.

  • See well what each question asks you, many times we don't finish the whole question. Sometimes you are asked to save outputs or logs in a certain path and you can skip them.

  • Make a backup of the files you will edit, because if you mess up one of them, you can lose a lot of time trying to fix it. If you mess up a cluster, you will not be able to solve several questions, so be careful!

  • Use a prefix in your manifests, this will help you identify which question it belonged to, you can review them if you wish or finish something you left unfinished. For example: 1_pod.yaml, 2_networkpolicy.yaml.

  • Forget Docker! In the exam you will use crictl to see the containers inside the servers, especially in the CKA, CKS.

For the CKS, your Linux level must be very good. Since in many questions you will be troubleshooting at kernel, syscalls, processes, networking, etc. level.

Finally, some extra recommendations:

  • Go to the bathroom before giving the exam, ideally not to lose your concentration for a second.

  • You can have a glass/bottle of water at your desk, but I do not recommend it. Give the exam with a fresh mind.

  • I will soon add more posts so you can generate a local practice environment and also the fixes on each topic of the certifications.

Many successes :) !

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