Some Google Cloud exam feedback and tips




I started 2019 thinking that it was a bit pointless me sitting any more exams as I didn’t think it would do much to enhance my career at this point. I stayed in that mindset until quite late in the year when I decided that my Google Cloud skills weren’t up to snuff and needed improving.

Once I’d made that decision, it then made sense for me to start down the certification route again. Mainly because for me, having an exam at the end of a learning phase gives me a goal to focus on, rather than just doing bits and pieces aimlessly. With that being said, I had a look at what Google Cloud had to offer on the certification track – they have the following:-

  • Associate Cloud Engineer
  • Professional Cloud Architect
  • Professional Data Engineer
  • Professional Cloud Developer
  • Professional Cloud Network Engineer
  • Professional Cloud Security Engineer
  • Professional Collaboration Engineer
  • G Suite Certification

It was a bit more extensive than I remembered when I last looked at it, but looking down the list, I figured that starting at associate level would be most appropriate for me. The recommendation is to have a minimum of 6 months hands on GCP skills, which I was kind of at.

To start with, all GCP exams I’ve sat have all followed the same format. You book them via WebAssessor, following pretty much the same process as every other IT vendor.

The exams themselves are 50 questions long and I think they’re 2 hours each. You might think 50 questions in 120 minutes doesn’t give you too much time per question, but to be honest, I never found time management as big a problem as it is with the AWS exams.

Where to start?

With any exam, I’d always reference the exam blueprint first. This will give you a good idea of what the exam expects of you in terms of knowledge and experience. More often than not, the exam questions themselves are pretty faithful to the exam blueprint.

As an example, I decided on the  Associate Cloud Engineer as my starting point, and the exam blueprint is available here. From memory, I’d say that it’s well worth going over the product offerings and knowing what they can and can’t do, and which use case is most appropriate. The other exams followed a very similar format and there is a good amount of overlap between the three I’ve now done. Knowing when BigTable is more appropriate than BigQuery is very helpful for example, and helps you weed out the incorrect answers in the multiple choices.

Once you’re familiar with the exam blueprint, time to get some hands on. Sign up for a free account so you can try a few things out at a very low cost. In terms of training, I have a subscription to Linux Academy. The course content is very good, pretty close to the exam blueprint and the killer is that there are real hands on labs in GCP that are included as part of your subscription.

I’m not sure how the A Cloud Guru situation will change the quality of Linux Academy, only time will tell, I suppose. For now, it’s the best resource there is for cloud exams, in my opinion.

Study Books

There are also study books from Dan Sullivan available for the Associate Cloud Engineer and Professional Cloud Architect (available below), which are pretty cost effective resources to supplement hands on practice as well as resources such as Linux Academy.

So armed with my Linux Academy subscription, GCP trial and study books, I began my Associate Cloud Engineer journey. For me, a month is about the maximum length of time I will wait from starting study to sitting the exam. I don’t believe in waiting too long, you have to strike while the iron is hot, plus if there are areas I don’t know too well that need to be improved, I’d rather find out sooner than later.

The Associate Cloud Engineer exam I’d say is a bit more “ops” focused than the Professional Cloud Architect, so by that I mean you will get probed about the gcloud command. A lot! Make sure you know the command pretty well, what the options and switches are and the general syntax of how to use it. You’ll also need to know gsutil pretty well too.

Having sat this exam and also two Professional level exams, I’d say don’t go into the Cloud Associate exam thinking it’s easier or a lower level. It’s most certainly not and I think the names are a bit misleading. If you’re coming from AWS, you may have found the Associate level exams quite easy and then found the Professional level exams a big jump up (well I did, anyway).

I’m pleased to say that since I started this process in early in November 2019, I’ve passed three GCP exams:-

  • Associate Cloud Engineer
  • Professional Cloud Architect
  • Professional Cloud Security Engineer

All three exams had a decent amount of overlap between them, especially around product patterns and anti-patterns (when to use them and when not to use them), so I’d definitely recommending knowing the common products quite well (compute, networking, databases, pub/sub at an absolute minimum).

In terms of difficulty, I think they’re probably slightly easier than the AWS Professional level exams but more difficult than the Azure exams. It’s different for everyone though, so don’t take that as gospel. Maybe I’ve just had a lot more experience of the AWS exams, but I found it relatively straight forward to eliminate the obviously incorrect responses from the multiple choice. They’re not gimmes though, if you’re not prepared, you won’t pass!

Finally, kudos to Google for giving certified professionals some top quality swag for free. I don’t see how store access to buy a cheap t-shirt or mouse mat is a certification benefit (I’m looking at you, AWS!), especially if you live outside of the US. The shipping to Europe alone is more than the item itself! Google have given me two Certified Professional hoodies free by mail order and a very nice padded jacket at Cloud Next at London, also totally free. I also got a discount code for Google Cloud Next 2020 in the US, knocking $500 off, which is pretty decent.

What’s next for me? Back to AWS to add the Security Specialty hopefully, sometime in January. Now I’ve re-certified my AWS Professional certs, that’s next. Then back to GCP networking and then maybe back to Azure. Who knows?

If you’re sitting the GCP exams, I hope these tips helped and let me know how you get on!



One thought on “30-12-19

  1. Associate Cloud Engineer
    Professional Cloud Architect
    Professional Data Engineer
    Professional Cloud Developer
    Professional Cloud Network Engineer
    Professional Cloud Security Engineer
    Professional Collaboration Engineer

    are some of the positions to start your career but before that, you need to have basic knowledge in Cloud computing. Learn and earn AWS certification from Cognex technology and build your career strong.

    -Cognex ( https://www.cognextech.com/aws-training-and-certification-course-3 )

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