Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer 2020

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Hard mode – Passing GCP in less than 2 weeks

Disclaimer: I definitely wouldn’t recommend this is a regular avenue of study! This was a professional challenge for myself as an experienced IT engineer. Learn at your pace, not someone else’s! 🙂


After passing my Microsoft AZ-103 exam on Tuesday 5th November 2019, I’d decided it was time to round off all three clouds, and went for my GCP ACE. With careful thought and consideration, including the likely outcome of spectacular failure, I booked my GCP ACE Certification for Monday 18th November 2019; less than two weeks away. 

Up to this point, I’d never logged into the GCP Console at all; but that hardly means I was a total newbie. With nearly a decade of experience in the industry working in Cloud Technologies, IT Infrastructure Engineering, and IT Support, plus multiple AWS and Azure Certifications, and my day job is to help people learn Cloud technologies.

With two weeks, I was confident I could pass the certification if I took it very seriously and gave it a lot of focus.


First and foremost, I sat through this course; Mattias’ Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer. This covered pretty much everything I needed to know about GCP in the course of my studies and got me well-prepared for the exam. Despite the time constraints, I still sat through the labs, including the two Challenge Labs (and found myself befuddled by the second one until I read some GCP documentation!). I did feel some gaps at the end, so I’ll get to those.

Also sat Nigel’s Kubernetes Deep-Dive course, per the recommendations. And it turns out, you do get quite a few questions about Kubernetes itself on the exam, including using kubectl commands. I followed along in some parts using GKE, which helped a lot. Prior to this, my knowledge about Kubernetes and Docker was still very fundamental, but now I feel semi-knowledgable on the topic.

Now, to fill some gaps I’d found…

Stackdriver – From my background, I know the importance of monitoring, and felt I still didn’t really feel confident with using Stackdriver. So I looked through CodeLabs, and came across Using Stackdrivers monitoring and logging to get better visibility of your application’s health. This filled the gap nicely and gave me a basis to test and experiment with StackDriver.

AppEngine – I felt two big gaps here; understanding how AppEngine worked, and using it. For the theory, I had a read of Choosing an App Engine environment, which along with some other bits. This filled-in some of the core gaps. I also sat through one of our ACG Hands-on Labs on Splitting Traffic Between Application Versions in App Engine. This proved really useful, and it helped me on the exam too.

Exam Preparation

Exam Simulator – First stop on the list! These were definitely covering very similar questions to what you need to know for the exam, but some were surely harder than what you’ll find in the real thing. If you’re hitting about 75%, you’re well on your way here.

Official Practice Exam – This only contains a small number of questions that don’t change, so I left this until last. These fell very close to the exam, but slightly easier. I scored 100% without much trouble and would recommend that you’d want to see at least 90% here (18/20)

Exam Tips!

Can’t share everything, but there are a few really important bits here. Also, if you’re new to certification exams, or want to double-down on your prep, do watch Mattias’ Certification Preparation Guide. While it’s related to AWS, the same applies to GCP

Understand Billing really well. Beyond just the setting up of an account, understand the process of querying it, and how Billing relates to BigQuery.

You’ll definitely get Kubernetes related questions; not just GKE. Understand how those commands are structured with kubectl, and the different constructs in Kubernetes covered in Nigel’s course

gcloud commands
Knowing how to use gcloud and the structure of it’s CLI is very important. Knowing the order of the commands, and generally what feature comes from which service will help

Remember while there’s more than one "correct" answer, there’s only one answer that really aligns best with GCP Best Practices. Read carefully

Storage and Database Services
Look at these categories, and learn to distinguish the different use cases for the different solutions. Why Cloud Spanner over Cloud SQL? Why GCS Nearline over Coldline? You may not need to know how to configure them, but finding the best service fit definitely counts

Hope this helps everyone. Good luck with your own exams!


Hello, Thanks for sharing your experience. How did you structured and what materials you used to learn gcloud commands and IAM topic ? Thanks

1 Answers

Answering @Wissek’s question: "How did you structured and what materials you used to learn gcloud commands and IAM topic?", I used the lectures in the course as my main guide. The concepts covered in this course for IAM gave me what I needed to get over the line without any additional focused study.

As for the gcloud commands, practice is the key. By using them fairly extensively in my learning, I got to the point where I could easily navigate most of my common things, like gcloud compute instances list without any special thought. Anything I couldn’t remember, I’d use -h or --help to figure out the rest.

Good question!

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