Happy to share that I have cleared my CKAD exam (Certified Kubernetes Application Developer) on the first attempt. It’s been a while since I shared my technical certification experience with you guys. In this article, I will share my experience, tips, and resources that I followed to pass this hands-on Kubernetes exam.
First of all, sorry for not sharing my previous technical certification exam experience with you guys, I have given few since then. The last experience I shared on RHCSA & RHCE exam was a few years ago. You guys showed a lot of support on that blog post and also had a lot of questions. I’m happy that I was able to help you with your Red Hat certification journey.
So with that said, today I’m going to share my personal experience on Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) exam. This is a hands-on exam similar to RHCSA & RHCE where you have to demonstrate your skills by performing certain tasks on a live Kubernetes cluster. Good thing is that you don’t have to set up the Kubernetes cluster. 🙂
CKAD has been developed by The Linux Foundation and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) for Kubernetes engineers, DevOps engineers, & IT professionals who want to demonstrate their K8s skills.
If you want to know more about Kubernetes history, please check this Wikipedia article.
I have divided this article into sections so that you can get the required information easily. As always if you have any doubts, questions, or feedback, please let me know.
Exam syllabus for Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) Exam
First of all, let’s discuss the exam syllabus in brief. This exam checks your knowledge of different concepts of Kubernetes i.e. from deploying a simple pod to network policy. By the way, if you are new to Kubernetes, a POD is a Kubernetes object and collection of one or more containers.
Below are the topics which you should know to pass the CKAD exam along with the percentage
1. Core Concepts: 13%
2. Configuration: 18 %
3. Multi-Container Pods: 10%
4. Observability: 18%
5. Pod Design: 20%
6. Services & Networking: 13%
7. State Persistence: 8%
If you like to know more, please check: https://training.linuxfoundation.org/certification/certified-kubernetes-application-developer-ckad/
From 28th September 2021, the CKAD exam syllabus is changing. See the new syllabus below:
1. Application Design and Build – 20%
2. Application Deployment – 20%
3. Application Observability and Maintenance – 15%
4. Application Environment, Configuration, and Security – 25%
5. Services and Networking – 20%
Courses & Other Resources for Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) Exam
There are lots of resources available on Kubernetes & the CKAD exam. If you are looking to understand the basic concepts and pass this exam, please refer to the below courses and links:
This is one of the best courses available to understand Kubernetes concepts and pass the CKAD exam. This course is by KodeKloud and they also provide free labs to practice whenever you want. This course is specially made keeping the CKAD exam format in mind. I really enjoyed doing lighting labs and mock exams.
If you want to start from the basics and want to understand Kubernetes from the ground level, then this is the course for you. This course is built to teach how to build Kubernetes clusters, what are the best practices, etc.
I followed the above two courses and they are both worth every penny. Apart from following the above courses, I also did CKAD exercise from Dgkanatsios and some Kubernetes tasks from the official Kubernetes website.
Bonus: If you are not interested in video courses and are more of a book person, then do check out “Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) Study Guide: In-Depth Guidance and Practice” by Benjamin Muschko.
Fees for Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) Exam
The fee for the CKAD certification is $375 USD and once you purchase the exam, you can book your exam slot within 12 months. After that, your purchase will expire.
This is a performance-based exam and you get 2 hrs to complete 19 tasks. With this purchase, you also get 1 free retake.
I will advise you to buy the exam during “Cyber Monday” time as you get a huge discount during that period and you might also get some free swag depending upon the offer.
But if your company is paying for it and you don’t want to wait, just book the exam. You can click the below button to book the CKAD exam.
How to Practice fro CKAD Exam
I have seen a lot of questions about how to practice for the #CKAD exam. Apart from free labs from Mumshad, I will highly recommend setting up on your own Kubernetes cluster on a virtual machine or in the cloud.
I know having a K8s cluster on cloud services like AWS and GCP is costly and if you forgot to destroy your cluster then it can really get expensive.
For this, I would like you to suggest two websites that are handy to practice and I mostly used them in spite of having a K8s cluster on VM locally.
This is a popular playground for Kubernetes from Docker and you can utilize your existing login credentials from Docker or GitHub to access the environment.
In this playground, you can create multiple mini servers to create a Kubernetes cluster. I would advise you not to create more than 3. First for the control plane and the other two for client/worker nodes.
I mostly used this website as it has almost the latest version of Kubernetes (right now 1.20). So if you are comfortable with the version, you can use this website.
You will get 4hrs access and can have multiple such sessions in a day.
2. Kubernetes Playground from Katacoda
Sometimes “Play with K8s” website might not work, so this is the alternate solution for it. Though as of now it is using a very old version of Kubernetes (v1.18.0), but for practice it is fine.
Update: Katacoda Labs are not available now.
Tips for Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) Exam
1. Go through all the concepts
This is very important. Before attempting any labs or practice exams, you should know what you are doing. So go through all the concepts one by one and then try to do all your labs. If you are already a seasoned Kubernetes administrator, then you can skip this. 🙂
2. Time management
CKAD exam is like racing against time. You get 19 questions that also have sub-tasks to complete within 120 mins, so you only have roughly 6 minutes for each question. You should be fast enough to complete all the sub-tasks that are included.
You should know when NOT to waste time and move to the next question. So time management is very crucial in this exam.
3. Setup basic aliases and ~/.vimrc
If you want to be fast during the exam, you should set up some aliases and autocomplete them. This will really help in saving some extra minutes during the exam.
You are allowed to open Kubernetes documentation, so you don’t have to remember the below setup. Just search for “alias” or “cheatsheet”.
source <(kubectl completion bash)
echo "source <(kubectl completion bash)" >> ~/.bashrc
complete -F __start_kubectl k
If you are using VIM, you can also set configure ~/.vimrc with the following data. This will help you in indenting YAML files during the exam.
Also, export ‘dry-run‘ as a variable, like below, so you don’t have to type the complete option. You can call it with $dry. You can set it whatever you are comfortable with.
export dry="--dry-run=client -o yaml"
Note: During the exam, you might also get an error while using VI editor for ‘shiftwidth’. You can ignore it or remove that from vimrc file.
4. Killer.sh labs
I will highly recommend doing CKAD practice labs from Killer.sh. You don’t have to pay anything as you get 2 free labs when you book your exam. So just go to your Linux foundation account and access Killer labs.
These labs helped me in getting more confidence. It is fine if you are not able to clear the 1st lab in time. Just review the answers and do them again. I’m sure after doing both labs you will feel more confident.
5. Practice is the key!
You must have heard this a lot, but it is a fact. Practice is the key to pass the CKAD exam or any performance-based exam. Do a lot of practice questions and try to master the imperative commands. Services, deployment, resources, etc. all can be defined using `kubectl`, so do check out Kubectl commands.
Also, if you would like to see how the actual exam looks like, please check the below video from Linux Foundation.
That’s it from my side. I hope this article would have provided you with some useful information. If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know through your comments, and do not forget to subscribe to my free newsletter.