Google Certified Associate Cloud Engineer 2020

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Passed Professional Cloud Architect at Next 2018

I took the Professional Cloud Architect exam at Next 2018. The only reason I mention where I took it because it may have been a different version of the test. The exam portal did mention that the exam was for Next 2018 attendees. Anyway…

Mattias says in the second-to-last module of the section that he recommends watching the Google Cloud Minute videos playlist on YouTube – Do this! Especially if you don’t have an extensive background in development or Linux administration. I would have failed 10-20% of the questions if I hadn’t watched those videos two hours before the test started. 

With regards to how well the actual exam lines up to what the exam outline says, I think we are pretty restricted from discussing the actual content of the test. I can say that I was very worried about the part of the exam description that says knowledge of Python and Java (at a minimum) would be required (as I have no developer experience), but that was not an issue on the exam. 

Things you should definitely be airtight on:

1) Automation – Especially knowing what GKE does/does not allow for, relationships between pods, clusters, and nodes, how to use templates, and what advantages a container cluster has over autoscaling and managed instance groups. You probably won’t need to debug a template or startup script but you will need to at least look at it and be able understand what it is doing (or trying to do). You won’t need to know HOW to use kubectl commands, but you should know when and where they can be used.

2) When to use all of the GCS and Big Data & Analytics services. Memorize all of the differences between Dataproc, Dataflow, BigTable, BigQuery, Datastore, etc. A lot of the questions will ask you which service(s) is appropriate in a given scenario.

3) Collecting, viewing, exporting, and analyzing Stackdriver logs.

4) Which services (and features of those services) are zonal, regional, and global. Which services are fully-managed vs. not may also appear on case study questions, which make up a healthy portion of the questions. One nice thing is that all of the questions for a given case study are grouped together, so you aren’t constantly looking back and forth.

5) Basic networking concepts. VPCs, the differences between and use-cases for VPN, Interconnects, and peering, and especially which load balancers you should use, given a particular use case or requirement. 

Best practices for CI/CD frameworks, setting IAM policies, and organizing hierarchies is also important. Having at least a basic understanding of common third-party tools like Jenkins will be helpful. I didn’t memorize all of the gcloud, gsutil, or bq commands and that was not an issue at all. 

Other people have said that the exam was harder than AWS Solutions Architect Associate, and I would agree with that statement. 

About an hour after I took the test, I ran into Mattias, so that was a cool experience. Anyways, good luck to all!


Congrats Brian! And, thank you for such helpful feedback! How long did you spend in total preparation and how long was the exam?

Brian Schoepfle

In total, I would say I spent 30-40 hours prepping. I watched the "Intro to GCP" and the available modules on GCP Associate Engineer posted by Mattias here on ACG, as well as going through the six modules on Coursera that Google links to. I had 50 questions and I used almost all of the two hours I was given to complete the exam. Good luck!


Thanks Brian!

Karlitos Knox

Hi Brian, Thanks for an excellent summary of your experience with Architect exam.. I took the GCP -Architect exam today and Passed! Followed your instructions to the letter. Completed the Coursera courses which are 9 weeks of 6-8 hours classes. Folks these courses are 70% labs using qwiklabs. Give yourself blocks of hours for study, some of the labs are 1.5-2 hrs each. Other than the courses, I also watched the Google minute videos. It was challenging with 15+ questions with multiple answers. I will post a write up over the weekend.

Brian Schoepfle

Congrats Karlitos! Glad I could help.

Roman Mezhibovski

Hi and congrats. Can you provide more details on what exactly you found useful in the Cloud minute videos? there are many videos and lots of them are very in the weeds…

Neeraj Maheshwari

check this udemy link for real PCA practice set –

2 Answers

Congratulations on achieving the Professional Cloud Architect certification, Brian!  🎉🎊  And it was really great to meet you at Cloud Next ’18.  Thanks for tweeting out the photo of us. 😁

The tips you’ve included in this post are really valuable ones, and I’m sure many other people will show their appreciation by upvoting this post. 😉  Also, I have now included this post in the Exam Report Mega-Thread. 😀👍

Thanks for sharing all the information. May I ask if we can read the case studies during the exam? Hope I don’t have to memorize them.

Mattias Andersson

Alan, in the Pro exam, the exam software has a big panel off to the side from the questions where you can read all of the case studies. No need to memorize them! 🙂

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