Not your average CKAD story 🗒️

As mentioned in my previous post, I recently wrote an exam to become Certified as a Kubernetes Application Developer.  (CKAD). It had been many, many – plus many more of the word ‘many’ – years since I last wrote a formal exam.

I signed up for the course for a few of the reasons below: (not all may be true)

  • I wanted to learn about the Kubernetes
  • Knowing that there would be an exam to write would be ensure the correct effort to learn would be made.
  • I wanted to to up my certification count
  • It’s fun and easy to study for difficult courses with hard to pronounce names.

Kubernetes is a system created by Google for the management of containerized applications. I know this, since that was what my course material was about, I think.

The exam consists of 19 problems to solve within 2 hours. In order to pass one has to practically solve problems using kubernetes commands with a score of 66% or higher. My exam preparation consisted of:

  • Going through the course material by completing a Udemy course
  • Doing lots of practice labs and exams.
  • Bouts of nervousness and questioning life choices.
  • Spending hours re-doing all of the above.

The exam is online with a proctor who does an inspection of the entire room the candidate is in and even asks that the camera show what’s under the desk one is using. The only thing allowed on the desk is a glass of water….as long as the glass is transparent.

I decided not to exercise that one right afforded to me. After showing the proctor my identification, I thought of the glass of water that was allowed, but which I did not have on my desk; and suddenly… I felt very, very thirsty. 🥵

This was forgotten about a few minutes later as I started tackling the exam questions. This was just the beginning of the personal trauma I was about to endure however.

About 4 questions through I was convinced something wasn’t completely right. The online portal seemed not to have been loaded correctly. I couldn’t scroll through properly and typing in the terminal didn’t extend to multiple lines. I mentioned this to the proctor via the chat interface provided. He didn’t seem to know if something was wrong or not. It seems the moderators are not clued up with the actual certification content. 😏

One question later and I decided I couldn’t continue in this manner. I asked if I could reload the exam site. Reluctantly the proctor agreed… I clicked… The site reloaded… I waited… And. I was logged out. Slight panic.

Luckily when logging back in, the session was maintained and I was back with my unhelpful proctor. The site had loaded properly now and I could scroll normally. Temporary relief though……I was back on question one. 🤦‍♂️

The proctor apologised for the inconvenience – I mentioned to him that I was back at the start, aware of the time that had already passed. He calmly told me to continue (he still didn’t have a clue). I not so calmly attempted to do so.

Although I was taken back to the start; the solutions that I had solved were saved, which was fortunate. I quickly double checked them and moved on. Unluckily; the multi line issue was still an issue. Text on the same line overwrote previously typed text.

If I had to type (as an example):

I used to be a crastinator but then
I become a pro

it would render as –

I became a prorastinator but then

except the example doesn’t do proper justice in showing the difficulty it posed.

The commands themselves could be executed but it definitely hampered the experience. Re-using previously typed commands was also impossible. I later found out from a colleague that he had experienced the same issue: we identified the version of Google Chrome we were using as the issue.

According to calculations based on the time I logged in minus the time for identification before the actual start I think I was given extra time by the proctor for the issues experienced, but I’m not completely sure.

The rest of the exam passed quickly. Two hours is not a long time and speed is important (says every post giving tips about this exam).  I also fell into the trap that I was warned about. I knew it, seen it coming, but walked straight into it; otherwise known as spending too much time on questions with a low weighting.

A couple of times during the exam the proctor warned me about leaning too much to one side. This caused him not to be able to see my face clearly I think. The interruptions made by the proctor were an annoyance for someone fighting for time. Annoyance was replaced by horror when he subsequently mentioned I would be disqualified if he had to warn me about it one more time. 😢

I sat the rest of the exam dead straight, uncomfortable; trying to remain calm, ignoring thoughts about the absurdness of it all and wanting to slam the computer because of that damn multi line issue. 

I was not confident after the exam. Mostly I was tired and frustrated because of the amount of time spent studying prior. I awoke two days later to see my mark – 4% short of pass mark. 😞

Luckily the exam comes with one free retake. 🙌

I scheduled for four days later. I spent those days preparing. I now knew first hand what to expect and I vowed to skip past low mark questions because of the time constraint (which turned out to be a 2 mark and 3 mark question on the second attempt). I also had a contingency in case the single line issue came up (it did).

Happily this time I didn’t have as much drama and managed to pass comfortably. The exam and studying leading up to it were challenging. The path to success in this instance seemed to be paved by rocky boulders. It was satisfying to successfully obtain the certification but also for the ordeal to be over. 😅

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