Study Guide: Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) Exam

Cloud Systems Developer, Evan Ng, shares his lessons-learned after tackling the Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) program examination.

I recently sat the Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) program examination.Developed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), in collaboration with The Linux Foundation, the CKAD program aims to help expand the Kubernetes ecosystem through standardized training and certification.

With Kubernetes becoming the de facto standard for container orchestration, it made sense to be well-versed in it as more and more companies adopt this tool. Not only that, but it was a way for me to keep my Kubernetes skills sharp and to identify any gaps in my knowledge.

This particular exam was a bit of a mystery to me. Unlike the more common exams offered by Amazon, Google or Microsoft, the CKAD didn’t have many guides or resources available to me.

Practice exam questions were even harder to come by as this exam isn’t multiple choice (more on that later). There were only a handful of blog posts available online which described what the CKAD was like. That lack of resources motivated me to share my own experience with the community and hopefully, after this blog, I will have cleared the air for you about any uncertainties you have about the exam.

Preparation advice and resources for the CKAD exam
  • I read positive reviews about the book: Kubernetes in Action by Marko Luksa and found it to be of immense help. The author goes in detail about the core components of Kubernetes, methods of deployment, services and how to design pods. I spent two weeks with this book, following along and creating the resources from the configurations it provided.
  • Once I finished with the book I tried some tutorials which I found on It goes through many concepts which are essential to succeed in this exam and it also allowed me to apply what I’ve learned with some hand-holding.
  • A few days before the exam, I tried practice questions without any sort of help or resources. This is the part where you take the training wheels off. I found this GitHub repository’s practice questions to be tremendously helpful:

If you can tackle these without looking at much documentation, you’re ready for the exam.

Hints and tips for the CKAD exam
  • Manage your time wisely. The CKAD exam give you two hours for 19 problems, which may seem like a lot if you are used to AWS exams (55 questions in two hours).
  • The CKAD, it isn’t a multiple choice exam. Rather, you’re given a shell and access to different clusters to complete the problems with.
  • Familiarise yourself with command line text editors like Vim. As expected, in a shell there are no GUI applications. You will find yourself editing yaml files and if you are proficient with the basic commands of Vim you will save yourself a lot of time and headaches.
  • Tackle the low hanging fruit first. You will get to see the weight of each question in terms of percentage. If you find a question is taking an inordinate amount of time, save your progress and move to the ones which can be completed relatively quickly.
  • It is also quite valuable to learn the command line option of yaml files. For example, if I were to deploy an Nginx pod with an environment variable I could do it two ways:

The yaml version

The command line version

Clearly, one is faster than the other. You don’t need to worry about spacing, tabs and any other gotchas that come with writing yaml files in a command line text editor.

  • Another note on time: although you are allowed to have one tab open for accessing the documentation, familiar yourself with navigating and finding what you need fast.
  • Last, but not least, pay attention to the namespacing and the current cluster you’re using. It is a huge time waster to go down the troubleshooting rabbit hole to figure out why your pods have gone missing when in fact, they are just in a different place.

Good luck with your studies!

Would you like to take the Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) program exam? Click here.

Here are a few more blog posts offering tips for exams and certifications:

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