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How I passed the Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) exam


“Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation.” In other words, Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration engine. It is very hot in the market currently as many companies are shifting their platforms to be hosted on Kubernetes. A Kubernetes certificate will help you to stand out among others when job hunting and help you secure the job.

Exam Format

  • The CKAD exam is a proctored 2 hour exam taken on a virtual environment set up on the browser for you.

  • The entire exam will take place on server with kubernetes and kubectl set up and all the questions are practical and hands on.

  • There are a total of 19 questions that will need to be solved with each question being worth a certain percentage.

  • The questions can be answered in any order and you have the ability to go back to previous questions. You are allowed to open a single tab to the official kubernetes documentation page.

  • The exam consists of 4 different K8s clusters and you will need to switch context based on which cluster the question asks you for.

  • The exam environment has nano and vim available as editors that you will be able to use.

  • The passing score required to gain the CKAD certificate is 66% and you will be allowed one free retake.

  • The exam cost is $300 USD

  • The certificate lasts for 3 years before it expires

Exam Topics

  • 13% – Core Concepts

  • 18% – Configuration

  • 10% – Multi-Container Pods

  • 18% – Observability

  • 20% – Pod Design

  • 13% – Services & Networking

  • 8% – State Persistence

Study Material

In order to study for this certification, I only used a single resource and I believe this resource is all you will need to study as well as it covers all the topics in detail and provides many examples and practice problems. The name of the book is Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) Study Guide In-Depth Guidance and Practice by Benjamin Muschko. I suggest reading through this book in and out multiple times to prepare. There are a total of 9 chapters covering all the exam topics and it has practice questions which are very similar to the exam itself. The answers are also provided at the end of the book. The knowledge learned from the book as well as practicing all the questions on your own kubernetes cluster will set you up for success.

Exam Strategy

It took me two attempts to clear this exam and I have learned a lot which I will now share.

Tip 1

The biggest problem that you will face is time. This exam is a race against time. On my first attempt, I simply did not realize just how fast the time would go by and I spent too long either working on questions that I was unable to solve right away or questions that are worth very little. I ended up finishing my first attempt with only completing 12 questions out of the 19 and I received a 58% for my efforts. On my free retry, I immediately skipped all questions that were worth less than 4% and I only spent 1 attempt per question. This way I went through all questions that are worth more before time ran out and I had enough time to go back and work on the problems that I was stuck on. I even had time to attempt the question which was worth 3% or less. On my second attempt I scored a 79% and passed!

Tip 2

The exam will allow you to solve the problems however you wish and the easiest way for me was to always create a yaml template and apply the yaml with a kubectl command. However, doing it this way does take longer than solving the questions through kubectl commands. If you know the kubectl shortcut, I would use that method over the yaml.

Tip 3

Another big tip is to go through the official documentation page of kubernetes and familiarize yourself with the layout. You do not want to waste any time figuring out where to get the information that you require.

Tip 4

One of the most helpful kubectl commands is:

kubectl run nginx –image=nginx –dry-run=client -o yaml > pod.yaml

This command will create a yaml template for you so 90% of the information is there and you will need to tweak the remaining 10% depending on what the question asks. Similarly:

kubectl get pod nginx -o yaml > pod.yaml

This will create a yaml template of an existing pod and you can now edit that template rather than creating a new one if you need to make a similar pod.

Tip 5

You must know the basic linux commands as well as how to use either nano of vim. These editors are what you will use in order to create and modify the yaml templates. The default editior for kubectl edit is vim. However, if you are familiar with nano more you can run the following command to change the default editor:

export KUBE_EDITOR=nano

Another quick way to save some time is to set up an alias:

alias k=kubectl

Tip 6

You must have an understanding of how to create and format yaml files. A lot of the questions will not be possible to complete without creating or modifyig a yaml file. Therefore, knowledge of the yaml syntax and format is essential.

Tip 7

Do not worry if you did not pass on your first attempt. This exam is extremely difficult and this is why they allow you with one free retake. Understand what stopped you from passing and regroup and try again.


This exam was one of the hardest I have ever taken and if you do not prepare you will not be able to pass. However, the book I shared has all the information you will need to successfully receive your certificate and pass the exam. Good luck!

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