How I Failed the CKA Exam

How I Failed the CKA Exam

Feb 7, 2023   ·  3 min read

I didn't pass my CKA exam, but I learned a lot through the process. Here's my advice and lessons learned from taking the exam and what I plan on doing before I take it again.

I bought the Certified Kubernetes Admin (CKA) exam a little over a year ago with the Linux Foundation’s Cyber Monday deal. I was a junior engineer at the time with basically zero experience with K8s, other than knowing about it and having worked with my team’s AWS EKS cluster. But I wanted to learn!

Unfortunately, I did not have much time to learn. Our MLOps team transitioned into a new organization last year, which came with a whole bunch of new tools, systems, and practices to learn (none of which involved working with K8s). Alongside this, I had a few life changes and responsibilities that prevented me from studying up on K8s in my free time.

About the CKA Exam

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation offers certifications that allow users to demonstrate their competence in a hands-on, command-line environment. The purpose of the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam is to provide an assurance that individuals have the skills, knowledge, and competency to perform the responsibilities of Kubernetes administrators. It is an online, proctored, performance-based test that requires solving multiple issues from a command line.

Quick facts on the CKA:

Lessons Learned from the CKA Exam

Overall, give yourself ample time to study/practice before taking the exam. You'll need this if you don’t work with K8s on a regular basis and/or have years of experience.

Despite having not prepared, I had to eventually schedule my exam before my voucher would expire You have 12 months from the date of your purchase to take your exam. I scheduled my exam two months ago and did my best to learn and practice over a weekend that I had available, fully expecting to fail the exam but still wanting to learn and give it a shot. Though I didn't pass this time, I hope to take the exam again sometime in the future once I feel more prepared.

Some lessons learned:

Tips for Taking the CKA Exam

Along with the lessons learned from failing the exam, I came away with some tips that I want to recommend to my future self for the next time I prepare to take the CKA exam. I hope these tips can help you too!

Tip #1: Get hands-on experience!

Tip #2: Study curated learning material!

I use Pluralsight to learn tech skills faster and I highly recommend the platform to anyone trying to learn. These are the resources I recommend for preparing to take the CKA exam:

1) Take the Kubernetes Administration Skill IQ assessment to measure your current aptitude and see your skill gaps.

2) Watch Nigel Poulton's courses if you are a total beginner or need a friendly refresher on the basics. 

3) The full CKA learning path. This is fast paced, delivers a bunch of great information, but might be challenging to follow along if you are in a rush or do not have at least a reasonable Linux background.

4) Retake the Kubernetes Administration Skill IQ assessment to see your growth. Follow the remaining skill gap recommendations from here as you continue to prepare for you exam.

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