How to prepare and clear CKAD certification exam



The new year started on a happy note for me. A few days back, I cleared the Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) certification. This was on the second attempt that I managed to clear the exam. It is the best online certification exam I have answered so far. This post is about my experience with the exam and how to prepare for it. I also share some information that might be helpful during the exam itself.

Exam Curriculum

The exam is completely hands on. There are no multiple choice questions. We are given a set of 6 different Kubernetes clusters. Each cluster has a different configuration and the questions are related to designing and developing cloud native applications in the Kubernetes environment. There are five different broad areas which are assessed as shown below. These include

  • Application Design and Build 20%
  • Application Deployment 20%
  • Application Observability and Maintenance 15%
  • Application Environment, Configuration and Security 25%
  • Services & Networking 20%

The exam is conducted by Linux Foundation in collaboration with Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). You can find out more about the exam on the Linux Foundation training website.

The duration of the test is 2 hours with 66% as the minimum passing score. The certificate is valid for 3 years. In case you are not able to clear on the first attempt, you get 1 free retake.

References for exam preparation

I like to use multiple resources while preparing for any certifications. For CKAD as well I referred to multiple sources of information. Here is a quick list of different references I used.

Kubernetes docs

We are allowed to refer to the Kubernetes docs during the exam. It is like an open book test. The following links are helpful for getting started with Kubernetes and understanding the different concepts.

  • Kubernetes docs -
  • tasks -
  • kubectl cheatsheet -

Learning course

Along with the Kubernetes docs, I supplemented the knowledge by registering for the eLearning course. There are many courses available online. Almost every eLearning platform will have one or more course related to the CKA exam preparation. Some also offer mock test. I took the CKAD exam plus the Kubernetes fundamentals bundle from Linux foundation

The Kubernetes Certified Application Developer (CKAD) with Tests on Udemy by Mumshad Mannambeth is also one of the most popular courses.

I liked the details and the depth this course covers the contents. There are hands on labs or mini tests after every major topic. The course is filled with lots of gems in the form of tips and tricks related to the actual exam.

Github Repos

Here is a list of Github repositories I found useful

  • CKAD Excercises -
  • CKAD resources -
  • Nilesh Gule CKAD exam prep -
  • Denny Zhang kubectl cheatsheet -
  • Ahmet Alp Balkan Kubernetes network policy recipes -


These blog posts provide useful tips for preparation as well as exam

  • Be fast with kubectl -
  • How to nail Kubernetes certification exams -
  • Codefresh Kubernetes cheatsheet -
  • CKAD practical challenge series - 

Watch out for discounts

You will find discounts during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year, Diwali, Eid etc. Make use of these discounts on learning courses as well as the actual test.

Learn Imperative commands

Due to the time limit of 2 hours, you need to be quick in finishing the tasks related to completing the exam. While you can copy and paste yaml from the Kubernetes documentation, editing it could take some time. The test will have specific requirements like naming Kubernetes objects with specific names and deploying them to a specific namespace. Usually, Kubernetes docs will deploy the objects in default namespace. It will save you quite some time if you know how to work with imperative commands. The output of these commands can be piped to yaml files and then you can make the required modifications instead of handcrafting the complete yaml from scratch.

Compared to CKA exam, I found the questions in CKAD to be lengthy. There are more subtasks for each question. You end up solving more subtasks and you need to be really fast.

Learn basic vi or nano editor commands

The test environment is Linux based. If you are coming from Windows background like me, you need to be familiar with vi or nano code editors. Be familiar with editing files and command like deleting lines of code, navigating to specific lines, updating a word, saving files etc.

Here is a handy cheatsheet I found to work with the vi editor more effectively.

Practice, Practice, practice

Whoever has cleared the CKA, CKAD or CKS exams will tell you that practice is the most important part of exam preparation. If you don't know how to work with the Kubernetes resources or objects using kubectl, there is no way you are going to clear this test. There could be multiple ways of achieving the same task. You need to find the one which is the most time efficient. 

Bookmark specific links

Bookmarking the links from Kubernetes documentation is helpful to find the resource quickly. Instead of bookmarking the top level pages, I recommend bookmarking specific sections to avoid scrolling through the lengthy page looking for information.

Practice exam

If you book the Kubernetes related certification exam after June 2021, you will have access to the practice exam from This exam gives you two attempts at the same test. The environment is available for 36 hours and answers along with a detailed explanation of the steps is provided to help you prepare better for real test.

Tips during the exam

  • Use external monitor (recommended), minimize screen switching
  • External keyboard and mouse can be used
  • Enable kubectl auto completions
  • create aliases (before starting test)
  • Update vimrc / editor profile
  • Time management
    • use imperative commands (huge time saver)
    • use copy feature instead of typing
    • use the notepad feature to make quick notes
    • flag questions for review
    • don't spend too much time on a single question (avg 5-6 mins)
  • verify solution after task completion

Aliases in bash profile

I added the following aliases in the bash profile to reduce typing kubectl commands

  • alias cls=clear

  • alias kg='k get'
  • alias kgpo='kg po'
  • alias kgno='kg no'

  • alias kdes='k describe'

  • alias kaf='k apply -f'
  • alias kdf='k delete -f'
Along with these aliases, I had also exported to handy commands
  • export do='--dry-run=client -o yaml'
  • export fg='--force --grace-period=0'

vi editor settings

Last but not the least, I also updated the settings for vi editor so that text can be aligned/indented properly when we tab in the editor. This also helps when we copy and paste the code snippets from Kubernetes docs.

  • set tabstop=2
  • set shiftwidth=2
  • set expandtab

Youtube video

All the topics mentioned in this post are explained in more detail in the Youtube video. 


CKAD certification is meant to gauge the skills of Kubernetes developers. If you do not know how to build and deploy cloud-native applications which are deployed on the Kubernetes cluster, this certification is not for you. Practice well before taking the exam. There are 17 questions with different weights. Hope this post is helpful for those preparing for the exam in future.

Until next time, Code with Passion and Strive for Excellence.


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