How I prepared for Google Cloud Certified - Associate Cloud Engineer Exam?

How I prepared for Google Cloud Certified - Associate Cloud Engineer Exam?

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Hello Reader,

Thank you for your interest in this article. Recently I have completed my Google Cloud certification for Associate Cloud Engineer. In this article, I would like to share my knowledge and preparation plan for GCP(Google Cloud Platform) - ACE certification exam that might help future enthusiasts.

Why Google Cloud ?

Cloud computing is the future and one of the most flamboyant technological evolution witnessed in the field of technology in 21st century. It has seen the fastest adoption than any other technology in the domain. Cloud computing is simply the delivery of computing services. These services include servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence on the internet. Being an engineer, understanding of cloud technology is important for developing a career in modern computing.

Cloud computing is slowly encapsulating the technological domain with notable players such as AWS, Azure and Google making huge strides. Google made its entry into the cloud domain in 2008 with its Google Cloud Platform. Over the years, Google Cloud Platform became a popular cloud platform. As a result, the demand for Google Cloud professionals is also increasing considerably. Google Cloud certifications are very popular among cloud professionals.

Also you might aware that AWS(Amazon Web Services) is the cloud market leader in terms of the usage and popularity. But GCP has its usages in majority of the Fortune 500 companies because of its ease, availability, comfortability and added features that support the data recording, processing, updating, and analysis process. I have some hands-on experience with using both AWS and GCP services.

Since this is a study guide, it will be having references to multiple sources - like videos, blogs etc.

Who is an ACE ?

As per Google Cloud's official documentation,

An Associate Cloud Engineer deploys applications, monitors operations, and manages enterprise solutions. This individual is able to use Google Cloud Console and the command-line interface to perform common platform-based tasks to maintain one or more deployed solutions that leverage Google-managed or self-managed services on Google Cloud.

A Cloud Engineer should be able to,

  • Set up a cloud solution environment
  • Plan and configure a cloud solution
  • Deploy and implement a cloud solution
  • Ensure successful operation of a cloud solution
  • Configure access and security

The services that GCP provides are highly categorized in to these four broad areas:

  • Computing Resources
  • Storage
  • Networking
  • Specialized Services such as Machine Learning Services

Having understood who a cloud engineer is and what are his responsibilities, let's take a look at how I have prepared for the certification exam.

Step 1: Getting the basics right

First I completed the Official Learning path from Google for the ACE exam on Coursera. The below are the list of courses I have completed. I have followed the same order as mentioned below.

If you have some prior experience with AWS then you may optionally take a look at the below course. This course enables you to make a smoother transition from AWS comparing the services from both platforms:

Suggested Hands-On Labs from Qwiklabs are:

You can also find the same courses on Pluralsight here

Advantages of these courses are

  • You have the flexibility to take them at your own pace
  • There are some quizzes in each section to pre-test your knowledge
  • Topic wise slides and official documentation references will be provided
  • Each course is focusing on one area of the GCP platform
  • Relevant lab exercises using the Qwiklabs platform gives you a great practical learning experience

Step 2: Going deeper

After completing the courses mentioned in step-1, I have completed reading/following the official certification guide/book for GCP exam - Official Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer Study Guide by Dan Sullivan

Advantages of this book are

  • Provides a great introduction to the aspects of GCP
  • Each section is aligned with the exam syllabus. Author(Dan) clearly explains the activities that a Cloud Engineer does with relevant examples
  • Provides practice questions at the end of each chapter, so that we can test our knowledge on the completed chapter
  • There is also a practice test at the beginning of the book
  • Clearly gives the overview of the different CLI commands used for different GCP services

Step 3: Practice ... Practice ... Practice

After getting acquainted with GCP using the courses and books, I have started focusing on completing as much labs as I can in Qwiklabs. This helped me to explore different products individually - going through each of the options. At this moment, I am quite confidant that I have some real hands-on experience using all commonly used GCP services.

I have also come across with the below github repository which is a single place where I can find all relevant GCP related resources.

  • The maintainer of the repo - Sathish VJ has helped all GCP aspirants with his blog-post series. You can find it here
  • Sathish is a 9X GCP certified and official GCP authorized trainer. He is kind enough to share his experiences and knowledge on the below YouTube channel with Q&A sessions
  • I have followed the play-list for ACE exam on the YouTube channel. As part of these Q&A sessions - Sathish takes a question from the official practice set and explains the approach on answering the questions effectively
  • I really liked the suggestions that were given during these videos. They are really helpful to attempt the questions even without much knowledge on the topic - using common-sense, removing the wrong answers etc. I highly recommend you follow this as well
  • I have also read some of the other successful stories on completing the exam over internet - medium blogs etc.
  • Next I have tried and tested myself of some the below practice tests available - including the official practice test

  • Practice Test - 1

  • Practice Test - 2
  • Practice Test - 3
  • Practice Test - 4

Also referred the GCP official documentation for help and best practices for each service(reading it completely is a night-mare!)

Finally, for practice referred the questions from here. This site has the most number of practical questions for all exams including GCP - but as I have observed most of the answers will be wrong. We have to carefully read the discussions and find out the actual answer.

This whole process took around 3 months for me(working on a full-time job), including 1 dedicated week for preparation before exam.

Exam Experience

I have chosen to write the exam at the nearby Kriterion authorized center.

  • We have to answer 50 multiple choice questions within 120 minutes of time.
  • After going through lot of materials and months of preparation I was quite confidant about the exam. But after starting the exam, just seeing couple of initial questions I was stumbled upon!. Just to re-iterate the exam will be tough, almost every question will be formed around a scenario and we need to choose the best possible answer.
  • There are multi-select answers as well - we will be informed in the question itself how many correct answers we need to choose.
  • I could able to set some last 10 minutes of time for review about the questions I wasn't sure of.
  • Finally, after submitting the exam we get a preliminary PASS/FAIL result.
  • If passed, Google will send a confirmation email with in a week time along with a certificate.

You may have a look at my certificate here

Hope this helps. Wishing you all the best for your certification journey.

I am planning to target for Professional Cloud Architect Exam soon on GCP. I will share my experiences next time.

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Edit-1: I have recently completed the Professional Cloud Architect Exam on GCP. You can refer my experience here

Thank you.

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