GCP Associate Cloud Engineer Certification Experience

Intro <<

Today (9th of August, 2022) I took the Associate Cloud Engineer certification exam from Google. I'm writing this article to document my experience and to potentially give some advice to anybody who is planning to sit through this exam. This article reflects my own opinion about the exam itself, about the requirements to pass the exam, and about the online proctored exam process. I will talk about these in detail in the following lines, but as an intro, I have to mention that I had a questionable experience.

Motivation <<

Before talking about the exam, I feel the necessity to present my background. I think it is important for everyone to understand what I mean when I throw around some adjectives like "easy", "hard", "challenging", etc. What might be challenging for me, might be a walk in the park for you, since your background matters when taking an exam based mostly on experience.

Currently, I am a platform engineer working for a big automotive company. I have a software engineering background, working as a professional developer since 2015. I worked on several projects for several clients using a wide range of technologies. In my current work, I am responsible for managing the cloud infrastructure of a global product. I use AWS cloud on a daily basis at my work. I am 6 times AWS certified (you can read about my experience here: My Journey to become 5 times AWS Certified and here: Passed the Advanced Networking Specialty exam , which means I have a bit of experience working with cloud technologies and also with taking certification exams.

Before preparing for this exam, I never used Google Cloud products at all. Obviously, I never had the chance to work with them professionally. My cloud experience relies mostly on AWS and slightly on Azure (I am also a Microsoft certified Azure developer). What motivated me to invest time in a GCP certificate, was just pure curiosity and the will of knowing more. I'm not looking for a career change or a new job and I won't get a promotion for this. I just wanted to have an alternative view compared mainly to my AWS experience.

Preparation <<

I won't go into the details about what learning material is required for the Cloud Engineering certification. This can be found on the official certification page : What I will talk about is the material I've used to pass the exam:

While learning I also did create my own notes and cheat sheets, which can be found on GitHub: https://github.com/Ernyoke/certified-gcp-cloud-engineer . While this helped me remember and revisit certain things, I feel everyone should do their own notes to get the most value out of it. Nevertheless, I believe it could help others to get an idea of what is required to pass this certification.

Practice Questions <<

Going through course materials and having hands-on experience with GCP is a must for passing the exam. What is also important, in my opinion, is having the necessary skills to deal with exam questions. The exam structure is multiple choice and multiple select type questions (I personally had only multiple choice questions during my exam). In order to get some experience with similar types of questions, I recommend the following options:

I must note that while practice questions are great, you should avoid brain-dumps. Brain-dumps are questions memorized by certain individuals after taking the exam. Using brain dumps is illegal and I personally would question the quality of those question sets.

Thoughts about the Exam itself <<

The exam was challenging. It was certainly not the hardest certification exam I've taken, it does not even get close to the "AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional" exam, but it nevertheless is challenging. In complexity I think it is similar to the AWS Sysops exam, but without having a practical part. Most of the questions present in the exam are based on real life situations where you have to choose the most suitable option from the available ones. While it requires certain things to be memorized, I did not find that many hard factual questions during my exam.

Some important topics I suggest focusing on, are the following:

Besides doing the exam preparation above, having certain working experience with certain technologies (not necessarily ones which are present on GCP) may help you tremendously. For example:

Online Proctoring is a Mess <<

As I stated in my introductory paragraphs, I took several exams before the Associate Cloud Engineering exam. All my exams were done through online proctoring, using mainly Pearson. While I had my fair share of problems with them, they do not even come close to the mess which is called Kryterion. It is a standard procedure, for now, that to take an online proctored exam, you have to download their software which essentially takes over your whole computer for the time of the exam. Whether we agree or not with this approach is beside the point, what is infuriating for me is that this tool will scan your PC/Mac and will tell you which processes you have to kill in order to proceed with the exam. This would be also fine if they could at least provide a list of these processes before the exam, but obviously, they don't. You have around 30 minutes to go and clean your task manager according to their wish. I might add, that some of the processes which need to be killed can not even be done by the task manager. For example, Windows 11 starts an Outlook process/service by default. To kill it, I had to search StackOverflow and SuperUser to get this CMD command which can kill it:

taskkill /F /IM HxOutlook.exe

Even after I managed to kill everything they requested, I was still struggling to start the damn exam. The tool was giving an "Invalid request" error and blocked my whole PC without being able to exit from the tool (remember, it takes your whole PC hostage). I had to manually reset my PC twice using the Power Button. While I was doing this, I had to contact support to ask them what the actual fuck is happening with their damn software. Ultimately, I think the issue was that I was using Chrome to start launching their proctoring tool, which on the other hand tried to kill Chrome but it couldn't (LOL). I managed to launch my exam at the last minute using Firefox. So yeah...no further comments are needed.

Everything Else <<

Other useful resources about the exam can be found in this GitHub repo: sathishvj/awesome-gcp-certifications

After finishing the exam, the proctoring tool gives you a PASS/FAILED result. This also will have to be confirmed by Google, which can take up to 7-10 days.

Links and References <<

  1. Associate Cloud Engineer: https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-engineer
  2. Cloud Engineer learning path: https://cloud.google.com/training/cloud-infrastructure#cloud-engineer-learning-path
  3. "Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer Course - Pass the Exam!" - by Antoni Tzavelas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpno8FSqpc8
  4. Sample Questions: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/.../viewform
  5. TutorialDojo - Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Practice Exams: https://portal.tutorialsdojo.com/courses/google-certified-associate-cloud-engineer-practice-exams/
  6. "Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer Practice Tests" by Dan Sullivan https://www.udemy.com/course/google-cloud-associate-cloud-engineer-practice-examspractice-exams
  7. sathishvj/awesome-gcp-certifications: https://github.com/sathishvj/awesome-gcp-certifications
  8. My GCP Associate Cloud Engineer Notes: https://github.com/Ernyoke/certified-gcp-cloud-engineer