Hello Cloud Gurus! I passed my ACE exam yesterday.
I primarily used A Cloud Guru for study. I also bought the "Official Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Study Guide" from https://www.amazon.com/Google-Cloud-Certified-Associate-Engineer/dp/1119564417.
I found Mattias’ class on ACG to be entirely on point. I’m not sure that the book was super helpful, as the ACG class covered all of the topics at least as well, if not better. In all I probably spent about 4 months on studying.
I knew nothing of Kubernetes. Mattias strongly suggests we do ACG "Kubernetes Deep Dive" at https://acloud.guru/learn/kubernetes-deep-dive. I did that and liked it. I also did ACG "Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE): Beginner to Pro" at https://learn.acloud.guru/course/gke-beginner-to-pro/dashboard. I liked them both.
I’ve taken a LOT of certification exams, to the point that sometimes co-workers make a little fun at that. I’ve always found that practice exams are very important. I used three different practices exams.
1. I infrequently used the official Google practice exam, I used it like Mattias suggests. There’s very few questions, and you always get the same ones, so you can easily take this one too much. Study, get to where you think "I’ve got this", and then go take the Google practice exam which will show you the general areas you need to brush up on. I maybe took this 5? times.
2. The ACG practice exam is very good. More questions than Google’s, but still somewhat limited. I found these questions to be very much like the actual questions. I took this many times, like 20+ times.
3. The book "Official Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Study Guide" comes with access to a very good practice exam. In some ways, this is the best part of the book. It has over 400 hundred questions in the question pool, and you can start tests with parameters like "give me questions only from this topic" or "only give me questions I have missed before." I took this daily, often multiple times a day, for weeks.
I first signed up to do an online proctoring exam with Kryterion. This was a VERY POOR experience. I recommend NOT doing at-home online proctoring. I registered for the exam. I did everything they asked me to. I cleared out a clutter free space to take the exam in. I bought an external web cam. I did the exam technical diagnosis steps to make sure everything was working. On exam day I was early. The exam opens at 10 minutes before the start time. I requested they start it. Nothing. Tried again. Nothing. Frantically flailed at it, logging out, logging in, trying different browsers, different computers, nothing. I never got connected or got to start an exam. Nothing. After the time had passed, I was no longer allowed to try to start it (not like it worked anyway.)
Afterwards I tried sending emails, tried chatting with support (which never worked), tried calling Kryterion support numbers (which they don’t answer, the recording says go to the web site, which takes you nowhere.) Very poor support experience, basically no support at all.
They marked me as no-show, failed. I never did hear anything from all the various avenues I tried with Kryterion. I paid $125 bucks for nothing. (I guess that maybe some firewall I had was blocking the ports that the test uses to start up in online proctored mode? Something like that.)
I waited for a couple of weeks. They did nothing. So I paid my $125 dollars again, and this time, scheduled a in-person exam at a Kryterion test center in Canoga Park, CA. That went flawlessly, good test center, nice staff, exam worked, and I passed!
The questions were pretty straightforward, and Mattias’ class covered the topics in the correct amount of detail to pass.
Next steps: I’m about 2/3 of the way through the ACG Professional Data Engineer class, and then Architect!
Keep being awesome, Cloud Gurus! (Oh, and Hi Ryan!)
Congrats Gregory on passing the exam. Thanks for sharing your strategy on studying for the exam.
– not Ryan to but you go: Keep Being Awesome.
Congrats Gregory! I took the exam today and passed as well. I did mine online and had no issues. I won’t go over how that process went, as it’s pretty much as you explained it – without the unfortunate issues.
I spent most of my time leveraging ACG’s Google courses. The courses I took to help me on my ACE journey included:
Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer 2020 – This is a really good starting point for anyone that has virtually no experience with public cloud solutions. Mattias provides a good balance between lectures with "homework" – things you will need to go read on your own to get a full understanding of the topic.
Kubernetes Deep Dive – if you are going to do a lot of work with GKE clusters and containerization, this and two below are highly recommended. Nigel provides a lot of content and you will get a lot out of it IF you spend time practicing what you learn in a GCP lab – ACG’s lab or GCP’s free account.
GKE Beginner to Pro – Tim Berry is excellent and provides a LOT of detail here as well. Again, practicing on your own can’t be stated enough. That is where you’ll connect a lot of dots, at least for me that was the case.
GC Network Management-GCP Network Engineer Track Part 1 & 2 – this area can be overwhelming! Karlos covers so much in his lessons that your head will spin, especially if don’t have a fair amount of network experience. That said, you’ll gain a lot of useful information, albeit you may need to go though his lessons a few times. The one area I particularly had trouble with were concepts of internal and external load balancers when all public IP’s were blocked by policies. In the lab, I could produce what I wanted but in my workplace, I could not due to restrictions. In such cases, you’ll want to spend time understanding internal load balancers, cluster and node ports.
Overall, these courses were very good. However, I have to share a couple of areas of ACG portal that could be improved.
1. there didn’t seem to be enough students taking these courses right now to really get any benefit from the forums. I did get a couple of responses from the instructors but more input from instructors in the absence of students would have been helpful…I had a lot of questions!
2. The practice test is really good; however, it needs to be updated with some of the types of questions I ran into today. A good many questions in the actual test was not represented in the practice exam. That said, the exam is still quite good for exposing the areas you need to study up on. Maybe add an entirely new batch of 50 question to augment the existing practice test.
I’ll end with some recommendations for anyone that is looking to take the exam soon.
Study – not just study, go do some hands on practicing in GCP. Lot of questions require you know which series of steps actually yield the proper results. If you haven’t gone through it, it’s more likely you’ll have to guess. Some topics I ran into that I could have spent more time studying…
consolidate search results from multiple projects to a single dashboard
Oauth2, SSO, and Cloud Identity
migrate sql queries to appropriate cloud solution
billing access for projects outside of the organization
storage lifecycle – capabilities beyond newline, cold line, regional.
VPC and VPN
Next for me is probably Cloud DevOps Engineer. Good luck and stay safe!