On Passing the CKA Certification


Passed the CKA (k8s v1.20); don’t know the score. The learning journey matters more than the outcome ;-)


The CKA is my 1st IT certification in 7 years, last obtained was the CCA for XenServer 6.0 when working at Citrix (good old days).

As a hands-on type of guy holding the spartan style - show me the fking code / skill value, I am NO big fan of collecting IT certifications (badges). They don’t mean one can do the work well, let alone their productivity.

You can most likely validate if the candidate is smart but NOT if he/she can output productivity (optional - under pressure) -_-z

Will use this analogy to explain the reason behind getting the CKA certification:

Someone has been building for 20 years with success, he/she does NOT need a licence to be able to build, however, a proper builder licence is required so as to build LEGALLY (for self and clients).

Looking back, personally I’ve been dealing with k8s since Feb 2018 (v1.9.0 using the self-hosted kubeadm flavour. I’ve never done @kelseyhightower’s Kubernetes the hard way, it’s good to do but NOT necessary.

Preparing for the exam

I’ve completed the k8s fundamentals LFS258 course (best on market) and did most of the labs, focusing on areas that I am not that familiar with, considering the fact that I’ve been working on a specific flavour of k8s on a daily basis for 2+ years.

Doing the exam

I managed to finished 16.5 out of 17 tasks within 2 hours, didn’t know Network Policy good enough as the gravity flavour does not use it at all. Frankly speaking, I consider the exam intense and challenging considering my skill and background.

NOTE: The PSI exam user experience did have some negative impact on efficiency, network latency was OK. It’ll be good if LFS258 course can provide a simulation exam mock at the end.


Passed, no score card or report (it’s a flaw)…

While the outcome is important, enjoy (and benefit from) the learning journey.

Some Thoughts

the CKA certification exam is unique in may ways:

  • 2 hours, 17-20 hands-on tasks including k8s cluster troubleshooting and upgrade a cluster the kubeadm way
  • all hands-on tasks are performed in a web based Terminal Emulator (1 additional tab is allowed)
  • access to k8s docs and GitHub repos (never heard of before…)
  • freedom to install any package available from distro’s repo (e.g. vim, tmux, curl, jq, etc.) use your favourite tools to create the productivity workflow
  • Remotely proctored via chrome extension (via webcam + microphone), you can even request a break during the exam (I didn’t…)

Tips & Tricks

  • RTFQ - read the Questions carefully at least twice!
  • Check context, check context, check context!!!
  • Time management
  • develop a winning strategy to pass (make sure to get the ones you know first and correct!)
  • get Bash completion to work for kubectl and alias it to k or whatever (you don’t have to remember, all available in docs)
  • Know just enough Vim (or any editor that works you the best, e.g. nano, emacs and micro, etc.) to efficiently editing YAML. Create a minimal ~/.vimrc if that can help improve productivity.
  • I don’t find tmux useful in the exam, don’t get me wrong, I am a tmux fan, it’s been a part of my daily productivity workflow for 10+ years, it just doesn’t add much value to the exam. If you see it mentioned elsewhere, consider it bragging -_-z

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend the CKA for those who would like to pursue a career related to infrastructure, especially the popular and high demand container orchestration skill tree (and/or its ecosystem).

I’ll probably do the CK{AD,S} if I have the energy (incentive), and $ / time to spare.

Fun facts: As many who know me already know, I’ve been using Linux as my primary workstation OS, self-hosting countless Servers/Services since 2003 (a true distro-hopper), consider myself a poweruser (self-claimed Linux Ninja) but I’ve never held any Linux certifications (RHCE, LPI, LFCS, LFCE, or you name it, etc.) and no plan to do so ;-)

Not Yet - Resources for Continuous Improvement ;-)

Best free Training I’ve come across, from Gravitational: gravitational/workshop
Deep dive into k8s networking, RBAC, security, logging, monitoring, etc.

learnk8s.io Full package ;-) (paid, well worth it)

Reference: Original Posted on LinkedIn.