How to Study for the Certified Kubernetes Exams - CKAD and CKA


At work, we’ve asked our team members to pass the official Linux Foundation certification exams for Kubernetes. The exams are challenging, practical, and realistic. They serve perfectly as a minimum bar for our engineers who work with Kubernetes. The exams don’t cover everything that is typically needed to manage a Kubernetes cluster (e.g. helm, helmfile, etc.), but they do ensure that an engineer demonstrates basic competence.

The CKAD and CKA Exams

The exams are:

  • Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) covers the basics of how to configure, deploy, and debug applications within a Kubernetes cluster.
  • Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) covers all of the material from the CKAD, as well as the basics of how to configure, deploy, and debug the Kubernetes cluster-level infrastructure itself including masters, nodes, kubelet, scheduler, etcd. The CKA is more difficult than the CKAD.

The certifications are taken online with a live human proctor via webcam, screensharing, and web browser. The CKAD is a 2 hour exam with a 66% score required to pass, while the CKA is a 3 hour exam with a 74% score required to pass. Both exams require the user to interact and solve problems on real Kubernetes deployments at the command line using the kubectl utility. The exams are realistic, and do define a minimum bar. The exam fee is $300 before applying easily found discount codes.

How Hard are the Exams?

Individuals on our team have taken anywhere between 1 day and 1 week to study. We all passed the exams on first attempts. We all have significant experience with Kubernetes.

One team member prepared for 1 day and was able to pass both exams, taking the harder CKA first. The other team members took up to 1 week to prepare, but felt much more confident after taking the exams.

Please note that there isn’t much risk to failing the exam, because an exam re-take is included without additional cost if you have registered for the exam directly on

How to Study

Exam Tips

  • Get comfortable with kubectl and its tab completion.
  • (CKA-only) Get comfortable with ssh
  • (CKA-only) Get comfortable with systemd tools such as systemctl and journalctl.
  • Know how to use kubectl run ... --dry-run -o yaml to generate yaml snippets without referring to the documentation for pods, deployments, etc.
  • Be familiar with kubectl explain ...
  • Save your nodes and yaml snippets as you go along, since you can reuse them for later questions (e.g. question1-pod.yaml)
  • Work quickly and only double-check if necessary.
    • Each exam is conducted under serious time pressure.
    • Most of us ran out of time and were unable to address every single exam question.
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