CKA Exam Guide

CKA Exam Study Guide: Certified Kubernetes Administrator

Passing the cloud-native Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam is not a cakewalk. To pass the CKA exam, you should have enough hands-on knowledge about Kubernetes cluster components and their associated resources.

It is the current best DevOps-related certification which has a practical exam environment where you have to deal with six Kubernetes clusters. Your practice plays a key role in this exam.

Not to worry, we got you covered by having an awesome list of cka study materials and resources that you could use to ace the CKA exam. You can use this guide to prepare for the certified kubernetes administrator exam.

Certified Kubernetes Administrator(CKA) Exam Study Guide

We have structured the resources in the following categories.

  1. CKA Exam Voucher Code
  2. CKA Exam Overview & Syllabus
  3. Kubernetes Books for CKA Preparation
  4. Best CKA Online Training Resources
  5. CKA Practice Labs
  6. CKA Tips on Required Utilities
  7. CKA Detailed Resource List
  8. Passing CKA Exam the Easy Way
  9. Passing CKA Exam the Hard Way
  10. Other Useful Links

Note: Dont miss the bonus materials given towards the end.

[50% Off] CKA Exam Voucher Code

Your first step towards CKA is to register for the exam. You can appear for the exam anytime in 12 months with a free retake.

Register today and use the exclusive DevOps engineer sale for the CKA exam to get a 50% discount on CKA, KCNA CKAD, and CKS certifications.

Use Coupon: CYBER21CC at checkout

If you want to save money on KCNA, CKAD and CKS use coupon CYBER21CC to get a $188 discount as part of the cyber Monday deal. Also, there are multiple other bundles available at a 65% discount. Check out all the Linux foundation Cyber Monday deals here.

Note: FOR Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) certification you need to have CKA certification. If you are planning for both certifications, you can purchase them as a bundle from the CKS certification page. You could almost save $186 with the bundle.

With CKA exam registration, you will get free access to platform CKA practice exam simulator. Before appearing for the CKA exam, you can practice the exam in the simulator.

You can access the simulator from the exam portal. You can directly log in with the Linux foundation credentials. You will have access to two exam sessions. In fact, the simulator exam is hard than the actual exam. So, if you try to get a pass mark on the simulator, you will definitely learn the actual CKA exam.

CKA Exam Details [As Per Latest Curriculum for 2021]

Exam duration2 Hrs
Exam TypeHands-on Practical Lab
CKA exam cost$375
Kubernetes Version v1.21
Pass Score66%
Certification Validity3 years
Important NotesWith the new syllabus, the focus is more
towards Custer troubleshooting and
kubernetes operations and less focus on
config maps and secrets.

CKA Exam Syllabus [Latest]

Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration25%
Services & Networking 20%
Troubleshooting 30%
Workloads & Scheduling 15%
Storage 10%

Note: If you are preparing for the Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist exam see the CKS exam guide

CKA Exam Syllabus Changes

The following are the key exam changes for the new CKA syllabus as compared to the old syllabus. Here is the official announcement. The same syllabus is applicable for 2021 as well.

  1. The cluster version will be kubernetes v1.20
  2. Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration:
    • Detailed RBAC tasks
    • Extended kubeadm cluster operations
    • Manage highly available kubernetes cluster.
    • Manage kubernetes version upgrade using kubeadm
  3. 9% weightage increased for Service & Networking
  4. 10 to 30% increase in weightage for troubleshooting
  5. There is not a security section. Probably security it’s moved to CKS

Kubernetes Books

If you are a total beginner or you want a structured way to get started and understand kubernetes, you should start with the following two books.

  1. [Free Ebook] Kubernetes Up and Running 2: A book by Kelsey, Brenden, and Joe. It a perfect book to learn all the Kubernetes basics.
  2. Kubernetes in Action: Once you got your basics in Kubernetes, this is the second book you should read.

Best CKA Exam Preparation Courses

If you don’t want to read the book, the better option is to get started with online training resources. Here are the recommended online training resources for the CKA exam.

UdemyCertified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) with Practice Tests: This is one of the top-rated CKA preparation courses that comes with a browser-based practice test environment. [Updated for latest exam syllabus]
Linux FoundationKubernetes Fundamentals (LFS258): A course by Linux Foundation. This course is specifically designed for Kubernetes certification preparation.
KatacodaKubernetes Interactive Tutorial

Note: If you are registering for the CKA/CKAD certification, make use of kubernetes Certification coupon to get up to 40% Off

CKA Hands-on Practice Labs & Tasks

The following are the best places to get started for practice labs.

Katacoda Kubernetes Course [Free]A browser-based Kubernetes practice tasks from cluster setup to Kubernetes resources deployment.
Kubernetes Official Tasks [Free]Complete all the tasks listed in the kubernetes official documentation. It will help you a lot in the examination and is a great way to be hands-on on several important topics. [paid]A very good exam simulator for CKA/CKAD and CKS exams mimics the real exam environment.

Free Kubernetes Practice Clusters for CKA Exam

To practice for the CKA exam, you can use the following free managed services to spin up a Kubernetes cluster.

  1. Google Cloud GKE: Use google cloud free credits ($300) to spin up a Kubernetes cluster with one click using GKE
  2. Azure AKS: Use Azure free credits ($300) to spin up managed AKS Kubernetes cluster.\
  3. AWS EKS – One-year free tier program
  4. Digital Ocean Kubernetes Service: ($100) Free credits valid for two months.

CKA Exam Bonus Material

This github repo offers a practice environment similar to the actual exam terminal with a timer. We would highly suggest you set this up with your personal Kubernetes cluster and practice the tasks.

CKA Tips on Required Utilities

You need to get good at the following utilities and services.

  1. kubectl: It is the key utility for the whole exam. Make sure you get really comfortable with kubectl CLI commands for managing Kubernetes resources.
  2. OpenSSL or CFSSL: Utilities to generates certificates. This would be required for all cluster component certificate configuration.
  3. systemctl & Systemd services: You need to be comfortable using systemctl and creating unit files to start, stop, and enable system services.
  4. journalctl: Learn this utility to check the logs of system services.

CKA Detailed Study Guide With Resources

All you need to do is follow the kubernetes exam curriculum and official kubernetes official documentation.

As it is an open book exam, you can refer to documentation during the exam.

This resource list is based on the latest CKA syllabus.

Let’s break down the resource list based on the exam curriculum. All the information and concepts are available at

Kubernetes Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration

Here are the key resources which you need to take practice when it comes to cluster architecture, Installation, and configuration.

Key points,

  1. Focus on Kubeadm based cluster setup, and upgrade is significant. Understand kubeadm configuration and learn to set up and upgrade cluster using the official k8s documentation. As it is an open book exam, you can use the online documentation for reference during the exam.
  2. Understand etcd backup clearly. Practice etcd backup on the exam-specific cluster version. Small mistakes in the etcd backup command will break the backup process.

Provision Underlying infrastructureKubernetes the hard way: This guide covers the entire
kubernetes set up in a step-by-step guide.
Cluster Installation Setting up a Kubernetes Cluster using Kubeadm
HA Cluster SetupSetting up a Highly Available Kubernetes Cluster
Kubeadm Cluster UpgradeHow to upgrade a kubeadm kubernetes cluster
Kubernetes BackupBackup and restore Kubernetes using etcd backup
Kubernetes RBACComplete Kubernetes RBAC Guide

Kubernetes Services & Networking

Understand host networking
configuration on the cluster nodes
1. Node Configuration
2. Control Plane – Node Communication
3. Comprehensive Kubernetes Networking Guide
4. Kubernetes Networking 101
Understand connectivity between
Cluster Networking Concepts
Understand ClusterIP, NodePort,
LoadBalancer service types
and endpoints
Kubernetes Service complete Guide
Know how to use Ingress
controllers and Ingress resources
1. Ingress resource guide
2. Ingress Controller Guide
3. Kubernetes Ingress Tutorial
Know how to configure and
use CoreDNS
Kubernetes CoreDNS Configuration
Choose an appropriate container
network interface plugin
Kubernetes network plugins guide

Kubernetes Troubleshooting

Evaluate cluster and node loggingKubernetes Cluster Logging Architecture
Understand how to monitor applications1. Tools for monitoring
2. Metrics API Guide
Manage container stdout & stderr logsRefer logging Architecture
Troubleshoot application failure1. Kubernetes applications Monitoring and Debugging guide (Nodes, Pods, Deployments, services, containers, etc)
2. Debugging kubernetes applications
Troubleshoot cluster component failure1. Kubernetes cluster troubleshooting guide
2. DNS Troubleshooting
3. Kubeadm cluster troubleshooting guide
Troubleshoot networkingRefer debug cluster guide

Kubernetes Workloads & Scheduling

Understand deployments
and how to perform a
rolling update
and rollbacks
1. Complete Kubernetes Deployment guide with a rolling update and rollback strategies
2. Daemonset rollback strategy
Use ConfigMaps and Secrets
to configure applications
1. Kubernetes configmap guide
2. Kubernetes Secrets explained
3. Task explaining Kubernetes secret implementation
Know how to scale applications1. Horizontal pod autoscaling
2. Interactive Tutorial to scale kubernetes applications
Understand the primitives
used to create robust, self-healing, application deployments
1. Kubernetes deployment concepts and interactive tutorial
2. Kubernetes deployment tutorial
Understand how resource
limits can affect Pod scheduling
1. kubernetes container resource management guide
2. Task: CPU resource allocation for containers
3. Task: Memory allocation for containers
Awareness of manifest management and common templating tools1. Kubernetes management tools
2. Tip: Use kubectl --dry-run to generate YAML templates during the exam.

Kubernetes Storage

Understand storage classes,
persistent volumes
1. Storage Classed Explained
2. Kubernetes Volumes explained
3. Kubernetes Persistent Volumes
4. Limit Storage Usage
5. Change the default Storage cluster
Understand volume mode,
access modes, and reclaim
policies for volumes
Refer to Kubernetes Persistent Volume Doc.
Understand persistent volume
claims primitive
All about persistent volume claims
Know how to configure
applications with
persistent storage
Create a pod using persistent storage

Passing CKA Exam the Easy Way

If you want to pass the CKA exam in an easy way, here is what you have to do.

Note: I don’t recommend the easy way. However, choose this way only if you are in a hurry or need to have the CKA certification.

  1. Take the Udemy CKA course with the interactive practice test.
  2. Learn all the core concepts from the course
  3. Go through all the interactive practice test sections. If you are a beginner, go through the practice test multiple times.
  4. If you do the above three, it means you are ready to take the exam.

Register and appear for the CKA exam. You should be able to pass the CKA exam. For some reason, if you are not able to get the pass mark, don’t worry. You will have a free retake, and for the next attempt, you will know what to do as you went through the exam.

Passing CKA Exam the Hard Way

Here is what you need to do if you want to learn all kubernetes concepts in the right way and pass the CKA exam without any shortcuts.

  1. Learn all Kubernetes concepts from scratch. Here is what you can do to learn the kubernetes basics.
    • Read a kubernetes book.
    • Subscribe for a kubernetes course
    • Read the official documentation.
    • Create a list of all kubernetes concepts and read useful blogs on how it is implemented in real-time projects. You will find so many blogs.
  2. Go through Kubernetes the hard way task. It will teach you all the essential components that are part of a kubernetes cluster.
  3. Go through all the official kubernetes tasks which are part of the kubernetes documentation.
  4. [Optional] You go through the official Linux Foundation CKA training material.

Note: There is an Advanced Cloud Engineer Bootcamp offered by the Linux Foundation which covers topics from Linux, containers, kubernetes to service mesh. You can also get certified on both Linux and Kubernetes (CKA)

Few Other Useful Links

The following are the few useful links that would help in your Certified Kubernetes Administrator exam preparation.

  1. How Kubernetes certificate authorities work: A very good blog by Julia which explains about k8s certificates
  2. All You Need to Know About Certificates in Kubernetes: A video that talks about how certificates work in k8s cluster.
  3. Kubecon Videos: A collection of talks from kubecon on kubernetes

Hope this resource list helps :). Please let us know in the comments section if you have found interesting resources that would help our readers for certification preparation.


How to pass the CKA exam easily?

The easy way to pass the CKA is by following a CKA focussed online course with practice exams.

Is Kubernetes CKA certification worth it?

Yes. Currently, CKA is sought after certification in the DevOps domain as it is a certification based on practical exams.

How much does a certified Kubernetes administrator exam cost?

The Certified Kubernetes Administrator exam registration fee is $300.

How hard is the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam?

CKA exam is a hands-on practical exam. So practice plays a crucial role in this exam. With enough practice, you can easily pass this exam.

Which is easier? CKA or CKAD?

CKAD exam is comparatively easier than CKA as deals with cluster administration and troubleshooting. At the same time, CKAD is more focused on application deployments and troubleshooting.

Is there a CKA Voucher available for Black Friday?

Yes. The Linux foundation Black Friday deal includes the CKA certification voucher code. You could save up to $150 with this deal.

How to renew CKA certification?

If you want to renew the CKA certification, you need to retake the CKA exam before the expiry of the current certification. If you pass the exam, your CKA certification will be valid for another 3 years.

Is there a Voucher code available for the CKA exam?

Yes. You can get the voucher code of the CKA exam from the Linux Foundation coupon page. You could save 15% on CKA exam registration using the coupon code SCOFFER15.

Practice! Practice! Practice

We have covered possibly all the best resources, cka study materials, and guides you could use to pass the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam. However, CKA is a practical exam, and practicing the tasks is very important.

I would highly recommend you to create your list of related tasks under each category and practice it multiple times.

You may start with an online course.

Or with the kubernetes documentation.

Either way, drop a comment below and let me know your thoughts on this guide.

CKA Exam Guide

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3 thoughts on “CKA Exam Study Guide: Certified Kubernetes Administrator”

  1. Absolutely AWESOME article! Been looking for one exactly like this. I am an IBM Certified Solutions Architect in both cloud pak for data and for business automation and am ramping up into the OpenShift, Kubernetes world. This is an absolutely great guide. I will be sharing this and keep up the great work!


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