Fancy a stab at CKA?

January 30, 2021

The Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) is a certification created by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) with the purpose "to provide assurance that CKAs have the skills, knowledge, and competency to perform the responsibilities of Kubernetes administrators". It's a proctored, performance-based test which means there are several tasks that need to be done, from a command line, to solve multiple issues. Having recently passed the exam myself, a few tips and tricks could be helpful.


Critical to obtaining a certification is the preparation phase. This will ensure you have the necessary knowledge and dexterity required to pass the exam. It will also build your confidence in being able to pull this off.


Depending on your level of expertise and proficiency with Kubernetes the amount of learning you'll need will vary. While there are several resources, just a Google search away, if had to point to only one resource it would be Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) with Practice Tests by Mumshad Mannambeth. It covers all aspects of the certification, has lots of practice tests and several mock exams that will get you up to the level required to pass the exam.

Get used to Kubernetes Documentation

During the exam, you'll have access to the Kubernetes Documentation. This is a great advantage but you can also fall prey to it if you're not comfortable navigating and finding resources. When practicing try, as much as possible, to use (and abuse) this resource in order to gain practice and know where things are.

Practice, practice, practice

This is a performance-based exam. It has a decent amount of questions, with varying degrees of difficulty, with limited time to solve them. The more you practice the better prepared you'll be. I cannot stress this enough!

Go for it

You'll probably reach a point during your preparation when you'll feel you might have a chance at succeeding. That's the exact moment you should schedule the exam. Just do it! Set a date you feel comfortable with and get back to practice. This will help you focus and achieve a state of deep practice. Plus, you have a free retake which is a nice safety net.

Taking the exam

When the day comes, you'll have a limited amount of time to perform several tasks.

Don't get stuck

Critical to achieving a passing grade is not to get stuck. Tasks are not ordered by difficulty and there will be easy questions along the way. It's very important to move forward when you get stuck, tackle tasks you feel more comfortable with, and come back to the tricky ones later. You don't want to miss out on getting a passing grade just because you just couldn't let go of that pesky task.

Read each question carefully and thoroughly

It's easy to miss out on a small detail and get a 0 on a task. For example, you could be tasked to deploy an application and expose it and you do it beautifully. You just didn't notice you did it in the wrong namespace. That's right, 0!

Use imperative commands

It might feel counterintuitive in the era of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) but, whenever possible, use imperative commands. If you just need to run a pod and expose it, use imperative commands. You're running against the clock and while the exam is not extremely difficult there's not much time to waste. If you can save some time, take advantage of it.

Keep track of how you're going

This one can be useful to some but not to others, so take it with a pinch of salt. Take note of the passing grade and keep track of how you're going through the exam. Once you think you've done enough to achieve a passing grade you'll be a lot more relaxed to tackle the rest of the exam.

These were some of the things that helped me pass the CKA exam. I hope it helps you too and feel free to reach out if I can help you in any way.

Ricardo Castro

Ricardo Castro

Software Engineering, DevOps, SRE, Taekwondo and Metal



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