At the last KubeCon, the CNCF announced a new exam called Kubernetes and Cloud Native Associate (KCNA). This is an entry-level exam in the spirit of the AWS Cloud Practitioner, Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer, and Azure Fundamentals exams. The choice of KCNA as an acronym is somewhat strange, try Googling it just for fun.

Instead of the CKA, CKAD, and CKS that are completely hands-on exams, the KCNA questions are all multiple-choice questions with a time limit of 90 minutes, plenty enough to take your time reading and rereading the questions and the possible answers.  The exam cost $250US and includes a free retake.

I was surprised by the wide variety of domains that the exam is covering.  I had some questions on 3rd party tools I haven't used yet!

Why did I take this entry-level exam if I already passed the CKAD exam?  I was curious to see if the content of my Kubernetes courses would be enough to pass the KCNA exam.  Well, I'm happy to say that my Docker & Kubernetes on Azure, Linode, and DigitalOcean courses do cover about 85% of the domains & competencies tested in the exam. Not bad at all. It also means that the content of my courses is spot on as entry-level Kubernetes courses.

If you never took a CNCF exam and you have a little bit of experience working with Kubernetes, you should definitively take a look at the KCNA exam.

I won't comment on the content of the exam but I will comment on the testing software provided by PSI. It's a terrible experience. Before the exam, you can run a tool that will test your computer to see if you meet the hardware and software requirements.  I have a recent Alienware laptop with an Nvidia GPU running Windows 10 at that time and the test results were all green.  All is good then?  Well, no.  Nothing compared to the mess of the actual PSI test software.

It asked me to stop Hyper-V and provided the PowerShell command to do so. It then asked me to stop the WSL virtual machine.  In a panic, I opened the Services tools and stopped it but I could have simply typed wsl --shutdown instead.  Next, it asked to stop some Nvidia services that I tried to stop using the Services tool but they came back online right away. 

Stress level is high.

I had to open the Device Manager tool and disable the Nvidia graphics card!!!! What kind of freaking exam software requires you to disable a graphic card for god's sake!!!!

Stress level is very high.

After that, I was able to move to the next step and the PSI software crashed.  I restarted it, went thru the first steps and now it's telling me that I can't use the YourPhone and another app that I forgot. Stress level being super high, I don't realize that it's just a warning and I can simply click on the Next button.  I tried to stop the YourPhone app but I can't.

Near panic.

I then realize that it's simply a warning message and I proceed to the exam which went smoothly except that my stress level was very high throughout the exam, cursing PSI at every question.

Here are a few tips that I hope will help you.

Tip #1: connect early
You can launch the PSI software 30 minutes prior to your exam scheduled time, DO IT.  I did so about 20 minutes before my scheduled time and the software validation and the proctor checks took about 30 minutes to complete.

Tip #2: use an external camera
You will be asked to pan your camera across the room, below your laptop, the desk and your chair. That's impossible to do with the laptop's built-in camera.

Tip #3: multiple IDs
Some driver's license cards have security features that make it hard for computer cameras to get a clear focus so make sure you have a second ID available.

Hope this helps.


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