CKAD vs CKA

2 minute read

As part of my professional development this year, I decided to learn Kubernetes and motivate myself with a certification deadline to validate my efforts. Kubernetes is extremely popular and continues to grow in adoption. I didn’t choose Kubernetes only because of its popularity; Kubernetes is also the primary deployment technology used by my current employer. These certifications provide an opportunity to learn Kubernetes at a more in-depth and more comprehensive level than day-to-day usage would allow. I decided to write this blog post to share my experiences taking both of these exams. My experience was the opposite of what I’ve observed in other blog posts describing testing experiences.

CKAD

I took the CKAD exam first because multiple blog posts described it as the “easier exam.” This certification exam gives 2 hours for the candidate to complete it. The passing score for this test is 66%. A lower passing score and a shorter time limit both seem to imply an exam with less content and stress, but the opposite is the truth. I was very hurried for time on this exam, and I wasn’t able to reach all the questions. I scored an 85% because the last two problems were worth 7% and 8%.

CKAD Certification Credential Link

CKA

I fully expected this exam to be significantly harder than the CKAD. The passing score is 74% for a 3-hour test. The scope of the study material is far more significant, but the number of test questions was comparable. I scored a perfect 100% on this exam with almost 1-hour remaining. I used another 10 minutes to review my answers and then ended the exam with 50 minutes to spare. I didn’t feel any time pressure on this exam whatsoever.

CKA Certification Credential Link

Test preparation

I purchased my certification voucher in a bundle with training classes from Linux Foundation. I took both LFD259 - Kubernetes For Developer and LFS258 - Kubernetes Fundamentals as preparation for the CKAD and CKA exams, respectively. For a little bonus study, I also purchased a Udemy course that included practice tests.

Conclusion

I wish I hadn’t worried so much about the CKA as opposed to the CKAD. I took the CKAD in December 2019 and studied for another month for the CKA. I overstudied for both exams. To others, I recommend studying for and taking the CKA first. Three hours is plenty of time for the CKA. If you decide to go for the CKAD afterward, I encourage you to review relevant study material and practice for speed. Two hours is tight for the CKAD exam, especially if you check all your answers before moving on to the next question.

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