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Preparing and Passing the Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer Certification

Are you preparing for Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer exam? There might be a lot of questions that would be hovering into your mind like what will be the difficulty level of the exam? On which topics should I spend more time during preparation? and so on. Here are some of my thoughts about the exam. Hope it is useful to future test takers.

Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Exam:

The first step for starting preparation for the exam would be referring to this link (Exam Guide LINK) where I got to know what the role of a Google ACE is and the Exam Pattern. It is a 2-hour exam with ONLY Multiple Choice and Multiple Select Questions without Negative Marking and nothing hands-on.

Preparation Time:

For people starting with no cloud-background, I would say it would take 4 months while spending 2-3 hours per day for preparation. For people with cloud knowledge, it would take 2 months while spending 2-3 hours per day. Being a computer science graduate and being taught the fundamentals of Cloud Computing, I took 2 months for preparation while spending 2 hours a day, on an average.

Preparation Resources:

I used the below preparation resources

1.The Coursera Specialization “Cloud Engineering with Google Cloud” & QuickLabs, is the only online course which I used, to prepare for the exam. It contains video-content, practice labs (quicklabs) which are more than enough for the Certification. The flow charts in the Video Content helped a lot to visualize and understand. 2.Official Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Study Guide by DAN SULLIVAN (GOOGLE DRIVE LINK) (My SharePoint LINK) – This is the official Study Guide for ACE exam, which was highly helpful for me to gain confidence on my subject and also provided me with a complete view of the Scope of the Syllabus. Though the book seems to have more than 500 pages in it, half of the pages are filled with screenshots and it took only 15 days for me to complete it, after finishing the course in Coursera. 3.Google Cloud Platform Documentation: Always refer to the documentation for getting latest content, but you also need to know when to stop going deeper and wider to focus on the exam itself. So, just refer to the documentation if you feel you need a clear picture of a given topic. 4.Associate Cloud Engineer Syllabus Guide (Syllabus LINK) - This contains the Syllabus for the Exam which helps in understanding the scope of the exam at a high level. After you finish your preparation, check-mark all the points present in this syllabus. Please do not ignore this check, as there are few topics, which the syllabus mentions, but is not covered during the preparation phase. 5.The Coursera course “Preparing for the Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer Exam” – If you have time before the final date of the exam, do a final check for exam readiness by completing this course. 6.Google Free Tier: Google provides $300 credit in a 12-month free trial account. Try creating an account for yourself (which hardly takes 10mins) and start exploring the GCP Services on your own. It would be highly beneficial as you get proper hands-on and understand the concept of billing as you see your $300 credit vanish based on your resource utilization. 7.Study Notes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1u6pXBiGMYj7ZLBN21x6jap11rG6gWk7n210hNnUzrkI/edit# 8.GitHub Repo: awesome-gcp-certifications: https://github.com/sathishvj/awesome-gcp-certifications

Important Topics for Exam Preparation:

It is very important to prepare yourself with the important topics to clear the exam in the first attempt itself. So, as per my experience, here I enlist the important topics, you should have a proper understanding of, in order to pass the Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer exam. 1.CONFIGURATIONS: Knowing your current project, switching between projects, creating/activating configurations (from the Cloud Shell especially) 2.COMPONENTS: Know how to install, remove and list the components. 3.COMPUTE: 1.You need to know everything related to zones and regions, instances, adding GPUs to instances, stopping/migrating live VMs. 2.Try to get a clear picture of the concept of Service Accounts, and how it can be assigned to resources and how roles/permissions can be assigned to a service account. 3.Proper hands-on is required for Instance-groups, Instance-templates & Load Balancers. 4.Other topics include creating snapshots & images and questions like size of successive snapshots etc., can be asked. 4.CLOUD FUNCTIONS: Know how to create and trigger cloud-functions. 5.IAM: 1.Be prepared for a lot of questions related to IAM. It is one of the most important topics. 2.Gather all the gcloud commands related to this, including listing all roles, listing custom roles, listing permissions of a particular role, listing the users & roles assigned to them in a project, listing grantable roles for a project. 6.NETWORKING: 1.It is important to have clear understanding of VPC, Shared-VPCs configuring Firewall rules and Load Balancing. 2.Questions related to subnets, and ports-numbers for SSH, RDP, ICMP while creating firewall-rules, CIDR Ranges can be expected. 7.KUBERNETES ENGINE: 1.First try to learn the basic concept of Dockers, Orchestration and Kubernetes before deep diving into Kubernetes Engine, as this is the most important topic for the exam. All the difficult questions will be around this topic, and mastering this could make your exam a cake-walk. 2.You need a clear understanding of the deployment process of docker file, how to create a docker file, purpose of container registry, Autoscaling in Kubernetes and Working of cluster nodes and services. 3.Definitions of NODES, PODS, CLUSTERS, SERVICES, IMAGES, REPLICA SET, STATEFULSET and their purpose. 8.STORAGE: 1.Try to make a clear comparision of all the Storage Services that GCP provides. 2.Cloud Storage: Know about Storage classes, changing bucket storage class (which is not possible in console), bucket-level permissions, versioning and gsutil commands. 3.Cloud Dataproc: Know how to import and export data, create clusters and submitting jobs. 4.Cloud Bigtable: Understand the importance of Cloud Bigtable and basic understanding of cbt commands. 5.Cloud Pub/Sub: Know how it is used with other services, and creation of topics, subscriptions. 6.BigQuery: Bigquery is one of the most powerful services of GCP and you can expect all kinds of questions about this service starting from billing to configuring the tables and datasets. Also, hands-on experience is a must in this topic. 7.Cloud Datastore & Cloud SQL are also important storage services of GCP. 9.APP ENGINE: 1.Knowledge about Serverless architecture and Use cases on App Engine Versions functionality. 2.Deploy applications on App Engine using CLI, and splitting traffic between versions using CLI will be asked. 10.BILLING ACCOUNTS: 1.Know about the required roles to create and manage billing accounts. 2.Understanding the relation between Billing accounts & Projects & Organizations. 11.DEPLOYMENT MANAGER: Know Building a deployment from a template, format of config YAML file and update an existing deployment. 12.Questions related to Cloud Interconnect, Stack Driver Logging and monitoring, filtering logs, Automatic/Basic/Manual Scaling, Big Data Services like DataFlow, DataLab can also be expected.

Preparation Process:

1.My preparation started with Coursera Specialization (which I mentioned in resources section). I tried to do the hands-on labs in Coursera quicklabs during my weekends, as I felt getting a clear picture of the entire topic was necessary. I took screenshots of all the flow charts, comparison diagrams and some important slides to refer to them at a later stage. This helped me revise the course quickly at the end. 2.After I finished my coursera course, I finished the Official Exam Guide in 15 days. 3.Also, tricky questions related to gcloud commands will be asked during the exam. So, whenever I have encountered a new command I have logged it into my notepad topic-wise. This was extremely helpful at the end. 4.Then, I started with the Review Questions, assessment tests, and practice exams and identified my weak topics and started focusing on them. 5.Once I was confident enough, I booked my test slot (2 days before my test date) and gave the exam.

Exam Experience: 1.Wisely choose the test center where you are going to write the exam. Check the ratings and reviews of your nearest test centers before you write the exam. I know few cases of my friends where their test centers had problems like server down-time, power failure etc., and they had to reschedule their exam date. There is no break in between the test, so if you take a break in between to drink water or use the restroom, that time goes off your available time. 2.Make sure you have properly read the exam-guide (Exam Guide LINK) and understood the time and pattern of the exam. Remember that there are no negative markings. So, make sure you attempt all the questions. 3.When my exam started, the first 10 questions were tough and I couldn't even attempt them. Make sure you skip/mark them for later, and move on and do not waste time. After these 10 questions, the questions were medium and easy. This is where I had scored. The last 10 questions were however a little bit tricky and there were usually a couple of answers that were real close each time. Surprisingly it took just 45 mins for me to finish this set of last 40 questions. 4.Then I came back to those first 10 questions, read the question properly, and tried to answer them. Few I could answer and but I was doubtful. At the end of this, I still had 1 hour left. 5.So, I reviewed all my answers once again. Please believe in your intuition in the beginning and do not change answers unless until you have an appropriate reason. 6.Even though I had 10-15 questions in which I was doubtful, I passed the exam. 7.According to my analysis, you need to answer atleast 35 questions correctly to pass the exam. So, make sure to target atleast 70% during your practice tests. 8.Most of the questions were scenario-based like filling the flow with the correct gcp-service, describing a business use-case and asking us to choose the suitable gcp-services etc., 9.After you finish with the test, you'll get your result there itself, whether you passed or failed and no percentage or grade is given. After I passed, within 2-3 days, I got an official mail from Google Cloud.

Practice Questions/Exams:

After we are done with our preparation, we need to test ourselves thoroughly, before facing the exam. The sources below, helped me a lot in knowing the areas in which I need to improve. Though I took random practice tests, I would suggest you to take the practice tests in the below order. 1.The official study guide (GOOGLE DRIVE LINK) (My SharePoint LINK), contains Review Questions at the end of each chapter. I would suggest you not to answer them during the preparation phase. Once you have finished all the chapters, start answering these questions. This would be a real check to your knowledge. 2.The official study guide (GOOGLE DRIVE LINK) (My SharePoint LINK), contains an Assessment Test which is at the beginning of the Book. It contains 25 Questions which give you a fair idea of where you stand. 3.The official study guide (GOOGLE DRIVE LINK) (My SharePoint LINK), contains a section called “Interactive Online Learning Environment and TestBank” which provides the steps to launch the Google ACE Test Bank. It contains 2 additional Practice Exams containing 50 questions each. This was my first level of Exam Readiness Review. 4.Whizlabs Practice Test (Whizlabs LINK) – I found this online which has 25 questions free of cost. 5.Flashcards from various Websites – like Quizlet, Brainscape etc., 6.Google Cloud Engineer Practice Exam (GCE Practice Exam LINK) – Keep this to the LAST. Please take this exam seriously, as few of the questions in this practice exam, had directly appeared during my certification exam. Also, questions similar to these practice questions appear in the certification exam. So analyze the areas covered in the practice exam properly and if you have any wrongly answered questions, revise the corresponding topic completely.

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  • Last modified: 2020/07/03 16:17
  • by preb