How to prepare for Google Cloud Certification examinations

What is GCP Certification and Why does it Matter?

Certification is a process where Google Cloud certifies that a person has the requisite depth and breadth of information, skill and experience. You may be working for an organization or providing consulting services to customers and may have worked in various areas of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). There is a lot that you know about GCP but there will be some areas about which you are not so sure. Preparing for certification helps to fill in the gaps and provide depth in core areas.

Hands-On Work with GCP is a Must

For technical certifications, we cannot underestimate the importance of hands-on work with GCP with real business problems. It will be difficult to attain anything other than a basic technical certification without getting hands dirty.

Hands-on proficiency is required with the GCP GUI console, Cloud Shell, and the gcloud, gsutil and bq command-line tools. Programming with GCP APIs is not necessary but you should be aware of API activation and the various SDKs provided for interaction with GCP.

An underlying knowledge of hardware and networking is required. A refresher reading of Martin Fowler's enterprise patterns is recommended.

Google Resources and Gap Analysis

Your starting point should be Google's extensive certification resources. In addition to providing you with comprehensive lists and sets of knowledge areas, the information here is always up to date.

This will be your starting point for identifying gaps in your knowledge and practice. Write them down and use this gap list to estimate the external resources and time required to fill in these gaps.

Google Courses via Coursera and Qwiklabs Labs and Quests

Google provides excellent courses on Coursera and I recommend that you do the full set of courses for your certification. However, you can pick and choose which ones you need. The 'preparation' course in a set is indispensable. Coursera provides labs through Qwiklabs and these labs are simply excellent and comprehensive. They are the foundation of your training and will fill in gaps that can only otherwise be filled only with business experience.

Information provided in charts and tables can be saved and used for a quick final revision.

Qwiklabs provides the technical infrastructure to enable a temporary account with GCP for each lab or quest. It is best to open GCP console in a private window of your browser (like Incognito in Chrome) so that the temporary account does not interfere with your regular Google account. When the lab ends, you can be signed out of all Google accounts and working in a private browser window avoids inconvenience.

Hybrid Cloud scenarios are very difficult to emulate in labs and only employees of large enterprises with varied hybrid cloud architectures can claim to have hands-on experience in all combinations of hybrid cloud networking, appliances and configurations.

Mock Assessments

Mock assessments should be practiced with proper preparation and timing. Create an environment considering all the suggestions below for the final proctored assessment and try to emulate it as close as possible. Aim for greater than 80% on the mock assessments. Do not forget to check whether the mock assessment is not an outdated version.

The Proctored Certification Assessment

  • Get a good night's rest. Concentration on the test is dependent on how relaxed and well-rested you are.
  • If using online proctoring from your home or office -
    • Your table must have nothing but your computer on it, not even an extension display.
    • There should be no electronics of any kind above, below, behind, in front, or besides your sitting location.
    • There should be no one else in the room.
    • Please go through the technical test beforehand.
    • If possible, please clean out caches for all browsers as the tool uses an embedded browser.
  • If using an examination centre, be on time.

Some GCP assessments may be based on case studies. It is very helpful to remember the general characteristics of those case studies as presented in the preparation resources. However, the exact case study details in the assessment can vary and the relevant portion of the case study will provide the necessary detail to answer the questions related to that case study.