How to prepare for CKA (Certified Kubernetes Administrator) exam

Abhishek Sharma
7 min readDec 9, 2023

In today’s tech landscape, Kubernetes plays a pivotal role & its significance lies in its ability to orchestrate and manage containerized applications at scale. As organizations increasingly adopting microservice-based architecture, Kubernetes provides a robust platform for automating the deployment, scaling, and operation of application containers.

This orchestration tool enhances efficiency, scalability, and resilience, allowing for seamless deployment and management of applications across diverse environments. In essence, Kubernetes has become a cornerstone technology, empowering modern enterprises to navigate the complexities of containerized application deployment in a dynamic and scalable manner so setting a goal to become CKA certified is an excellent way to showcase your Kubernetes skill set.

In this blog, we will delve into the strategies for preparing for the CKA exam, there will be two sections in this blog, that will help you prepare for CKA based on your level of experience.

let’s start the preparation journey…….

1. Professionals with some prior experience with Kubernetes

Many professionals including myself, often engage in real-world implementations of Kubernetes using its managed versions provided by different cloud providers like GKE from Google Cloud, Amazon EKS, and Azure AKS, etc so we don't get into its internal component’s (API server, ETCD, Controller, Scheduler, kubelet, kube-proxy etc.) installation & setup, we got these things already configured by the provider, & we directly get into its functionality aspects, like deployment, stateful sets, secrets, config map, ingress, PV, PVC, network policy, affinity, SA, Sidecar, Clusterrole, its binding, namespace, and user management, etc. & start building our application stack on top of Kubernetes.

Reference to the exam syllabus, all of these core functionally portion covers around 60% so you just need to revise it

Till now, we’re good with the learning portion because mostly things, we already know so the key variation lies in Kubernetes administration, as these cloud providers handle installation and upgrades, simplifying the process for users & this is your 40% of the syllabus, where you’ve work on.

However, as this is hands on exam, which involves performing cluster management tasks, it’s crucial to focus on these aspects. I strongly recommend setting up a local cluster using kubeadm, exploring internal components like API server, kubelet, ETCD, Scheduler, Controller, and Kube proxy, particularly understanding their functionalities, installation and communication configurations (authentication, networking, downtime management). also how you’ll perform the manual upgrades, and troubleshooting at the Linux level. This hands-on experience builds confidence, even though the exam doesn’t require setting up a cluster from scratch; instead, it involves managing, configuring, and implementing activities in an existing cluster.

For setting up cluster using Kubeadm in your local environment, you can refer to the official documentation here

Note:
In the exam, you’ll have access to kubernetes official documentation(https://kubernetes.io/docs/home/) so anytime you can reference kubectl commands/YAML manifest snippets.

For your preparation and revision of Kubernetes concepts, consider exploring the following resources

1. Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) with Practice Tests by Mumshad Mannambeth(kodekloud)

This is the ideal course for the CKA exam, and you don’t need to consider any other paid courses. The explanation of each topic is very in-depth, accompanied by hands-on lab experience.

As an experienced individual, you might find some sections very easy, as they provide detailed explanations from the basics, which you already know. However, it is structured in a way that everyone should be in sync. So, if you’re confident in those topics, just skip and try the hands-on labs. The course is around 23 hours long, but honestly, it’s just 12 hours if you’re familiar with things, especially common topics like deployment, statefulsets, secrets, config map, ingress, PV, PVC, network policy, affinity, SA, Sidecar, Clusterrole, its binding, namespace, and user management. You can directly jump into the hands-on part, but it’s always a plus to revise concepts.

I want to highlight the last mock exam’s hands-on labs, especially because they will provide you with a good understanding check of the course.

2. Official CKA exam simulator (killer shell) by linux foundation

Upon purchasing your CKA certification exam, you’ll receive two complimentary CKA simulator sessions on Killer Shell. These sessions allow you to assess your readiness before the actual exam, providing an authentic exam experience. If you can successfully solve most questions within the specified time, I am confident that you can pass the CKA exam in one attempt.

Note
Solutions to all questions will be provided, and each session remains active for 24 hours, allowing you to attempt all the questions at your convenience within the specified timeframe.

2. For freshers/Beginners

Success in the exam goes beyond merely watching videos and reading articles or doing the basics. It demands a substantial level of hands-on experience with real-world implementation of diverse use cases based on containerization technologies. I strongly recommend prioritizing hands-on experience first and gaining practical project exposure with real-world use cases. This hands-on approach enhances your understanding and learning process significantly.

“Achieving certification isn’t the ultimate objective, what truly matters is how you apply that certified knowledge to develop solutions for diverse real-world scenarios. Otherwise, it remains just a piece of paper.”

So you can start with understanding of linux & containerization technologies & here are some of the resources, which will help you gain strong fundamentals

1. Linux Essentials for DevOps by Edureka YouTube Channel(Linux fundamentals)

This will assist you in grasping the fundamentals of Linux, including commonly used commands, shell scripting, and other practices prevalent in day-to-day industry scenarios. You can start your learning journey from this point.

2. Docker for Absolute begineers by kodekloud YouTube Channel(Docker fundamentals)

This tutorial offers a thorough overview of all the fundamentals associated with Docker and aids you in gaining significant learning experiences essential for applying its concepts in industry practices. All of this is provided through hands-on learning experiences, and it’s completely free of cost.

3. Kubernetes Crash Course: Learn the Basics and Build a Microservice Application by kodekloud YouTube Channel(Kubernetes fundamentals)

In this Kubernetes crash course, you will delve into the fundamentals of container orchestration and learn how to effectively use Kubernetes to manage your applications. The course covers the basics, including containers, Kubernetes, pods, and replicasets, before immersing you in a hands-on project. This practical experience will instill confidence in applying Kubernetes concepts to your own microservices-based applications. By the end of the course, you’ll be on a solid path towards mastering Kubernetes.

I would like to add two more tutorials here for beginners -

Note
There are varity of youtube channels, learning portals available so you can prefer any of them, core concept will be the same.

Important

After completing these tutorials, I would suggest starting to build your projects, that utilizes these technologies & for that there are a variety of tutorials & website available, which you can reference but this is essential that you have an understanding of “How to apply these learning for real-world use cases” & then you can follow the professional's steps mentioned above for CKA exam.

Exam Tips

  1. As you’ll have access to Kubernetes official documentation (https://kubernetes.io) page for referencing different commands & YAML manifest files, be familiar with “How to search for specific information in the documentation.
  2. Giving exam on a larger display laptop/desktop will be recommended because around 30% of your screen will contain exam & support specific info

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That’s all, Thank you for reading, hope you found this blog helpful for your CKA preparation, if you still have any queries, feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn

All the best for your exam

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