Posted 6 months ago | Originally written on 19 Dec 2020
While it is still fresh in my mind, I thought I would write my impressions of the Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer (ACE) certification exam, which I sat for this morning (Saturday 19th December 2020) online proctored exam. I'm happy I passed though there were moments where I was tempted to throw in the towel. I've put this together in bullet points and there's no particular order to them.
- The exam was far harder than I had anticipated. As someone else pointed out the first few questions were mightily harder than that later one.
- The exam start was delayed due to what they called 'unprecedented demand for exams'.
- If you are thinking of doing the exam here are what I would suggest to be the best preparation strategies. 1) You must have a history with computers (Linux in particular) and tinkering with installing and running software to know general concepts of operating systems, servers, networks etc. 2) Read the official study guide and watch the related Udemy videos by the author which will bring you up to speed on developments. 3) Do practice with tools like Qwiklabs and use the $300 credit offered by Google to at least deploy an App Engine application in the standard environment. 4) Do the practice exam offered by Google. It's a tiny fraction of what the actual exam will be like and not very representative. 5) Go over the practice problems included with (2) particularly those of the actual tests. (2) also includes (4) as well as 20 questions at the end of each chapter. However, the actual exam is more than four times harder than these practice tests.
- Read, read and re-read the questions and all the choices. For some reason the actual exam is extremely verbose in both the questions and the answers. Add to that the fact that you cannot verbalise nor write any notes (neither on paper or on screen) and it makes for quite a tedious exam since you have to maximise working memory.
- The exam really tests understanding and not mere facts. The questions are worded in such a way as to force you to think and consider all the alternatives provided. The beautiful thing about MCQ tests is that every question has the answer sitting right in front of you and it is your job to exclude the obvious distractors and whittle them down to the two most likely ones.
- No amount of studying will make you perfectly prepared for the exam. As soon as you are scoring decent scores on (5) above .i.e. consistently above 90% then I believe you are ready. Therefore, if you manage to get to this having gone over all the preps mentioned above in one month then you're ready. My observation is that the exam is designed to assess your overall familiarity with GCP such that you know what the different components are, when to use them, high-level options, etc. It does not assess fine-grained options on GCP forms that apply in special circumstances.
- One other little quirk: the exam does include tax (if you're in the UK, but I guess anywhere else) so the quoted price of $125 rises to $150 because of $25 tax. Just keep that in mind. I imagine for the professional exams this rises from $200 to $240.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE THOUGHTS ARE SUGGESTIONS ONLY AND DO NOT CONSTITUTE A GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL PASS THE EXAM. YOU ARE 100% RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR EXAM READINESS AND ONLY YOU WILL KNOW WHEN YOU ARE READY TO TAKE THE EXAM. BY READING THESE YOU AGREE TO INDEMNIFY ME OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR EXAM OUTCOME.