How to prepare for Certified Kubernetes Administrator exam

Certified Kubernetes Administrator exam preparation

Hello everyone I have recently cleared the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam by Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), in collaboration with The Linux Foundation.

In this blog I will share the strategy I used to prepare for the exam and the important tips you should remember while you are actually giving the exam.

My CKA exam was on Kubernetes 1.22 version which is the latest exam version as of 21-Oct-21. You can see broad level domains tested in this exam here .

CKA is bit different from many other professional exams of like AWS, Azure or GCP etc. CKA is lab based practical exam, so you are given tasks related to Kubernetes and you have to practically perform them during the exam. This can be little overwhelming if you are preparing for such an exam format for the first time but it's actually fun once you get the hang of it. I have earlier given Redhat Openstack exam which is also lab based so I had some idea about the exam format.

I have more than 2 years of professional experience working on Kubernetes so I was quite familiar with it's terminologies and way of working. But exam covers lot of different topics which you may not be using in your office stack. So, you have to learn about them too.

While preparing for the exam I used the Udemy course Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) with Practice Tests which covers all the major topics. They have hands-on labs which are very useful for practice and give you almost exam like environment. They have special labs for jsonpath practice which are helpful. Other than this I also used the simulator, you get 2 free attempts of this simulator when you book your CKA exam. Though the simulator is bit hard in comparison to the actual exam but it's good to keep you grounded and helps you prepare for the worst.

Basically for CKA you need to know about below topics:

1) Kubernetes (Obviously 😃  ) 

2) Linux : You should know how to get around Linux like changing directories, creating files etc. And knowing commands like grep, awk, sed can be really handy to get the desired result from the huge jsons outputs.

3) Container run time : Earlier docker was the main run time for Kubernetes but  Kubernetese now is not restricted to only docker. While practicing in exam simulator of I noticed the simulator was updated to containerd and this stumbled me during the last phase of preparation as I was not familiar with it's commands. But later while looking for it I realized that the containerd command are easy and not very different form docker commands. You can learn more about containerd commands in Kubernetes docs. So while going in exam I'll suggest you practice for both docker and containerd commands in case you have to do some debugging.

4) Fetching json outputs : Get yourself familiarized with jsonpath, custom-columns and sort-by commands which are in kubectl cheat sheet accessible during exam. These are very helpful in getting relevant details from json output. Saves you from creating complex awk, grep, sed commands or you can use them in conjunction with jsonpath if you know what you are doing.

5) vi/vim Editor : Get yourself accustomed with vi/vim editors. This is very important as you will have to edit yaml or json files frequently and doing it in the exam notepad is not very friendly always. 

Tips for the exam :

1) The main tips from CNCF anyways should be kept in mind.

2) You get 15-20 questions in exam. 

3) Don't waste your time on tricky questions. I spent my first 20 minutes on the first question itself which got me in a tight situation. My suggestion is to flag the one's you find tricky and move to others. There are many easy questions also in the exam so my personal advise is to tackle the easier one's first and later go back to the flagged questions.

4) You are allowed to open only one tab other than your exam tab. So you should bookmark some important pages to avoid wasting time searching for them. Bookmarks I used were kubectl cheat sheet , kubectl command reference , JSONPath support and Persistent Volume .


The CKA exam is not very tough but it does test all your skills on kubernetes. Time management is critical for this exam as you can easily end most of your time on few tricky questions so be careful about it. Overall I think if you have done good practice and know your way around the Kubernetes docs you should be able to clear it easily.

Do let me know in comment section if you have any feedback for this post or any further queries. I'll be glad to help you.

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