How to Ace The ACE-GCP
I recently sat for (and passed) Google’s Associate Cloud Engineer exam. I wanted to write a brief blog, share my experience, and maybe even help some others along the way.
As of October 2020, this is Google’s only Associate level exam. You will have ~2 hours to answer 50 questions. There are no prerequisites to test, so anyone wanting to take it can sign up; however, Google recommends at least 6 months hands on experience with GCP.
I started studying for this exam in late July and tested in early October. In the beginning, I read Dan Sullivan’s book and watched A Cloud Guru (ACG) videos. If you’re like me watching videos gets really boring really fast, but I just powered through it.
I decided to take a more hands on approach and sign up for the GCP free tier account. Here I started doing basic things like creating a VM and deleting said VM, getting an overall feel for the GCP “console”. I watched the entire ACE course from ACG and thought it gave a decent overview of topics on the test. I do feel it was lacking something. I’m a tactile learner, so I need to try it myself. By early August my ACG course was over and I knew basic terminology of GCP resources.
I continued reading Dan’s book along with doing more hands on tasks in my free tier environment. It was then when things were slowly starting to click for me. I would read a chapter of the book and then immediately sandbox what I read in my free tier environment.
Something I really needed during all this was a mentor. I didn’t have anyone to actively turn to for advice and guidance on GCP related things. In mid August I met Antoni via Reddit. He helped answer all the questions I had, and I asked him if I could come to him for further guidance during my GCP journey. Luckily for me, he was building a GCP ACE course of his own, and has been a very helpful to not only me, but the GCP community as a whole. I enrolled into his course and was really thrilled at the depth of the material. I watched the course’s videos, continued reading Dan’s book, and getting hands on practice in GCP.
By September I had finished the book, scheduled my test, and sectioned off topics I was not strong in to take extra time on (App Engine, Kubernetes). I went line by line in the exam guide, ensuring I knew how to deploy resources, how to delete resources, and what resources to use for specific jobs.
**Utilize the free tier of GCP - Google offers a free tier of their cloud platform products and for all new users will be given a $300 credit. (I only used about $60 dollars)
**Read and understand the exam guide - It really helped me to look at this every day when I was sandboxing stuff in GCP. It kept me on track.
Take the free practice exam - Google offers a 25 question sample test. Take it. The Youtube channel, Cloud Advocate, also has a detailed walkthrough of all questions in one of their videos.
Use Preemptible VM’s - If you don’t know about preemptible VMs already I highly recommend using this feature to help save on VM cost when sandboxing in your environment.
Get involved - Browse Reddit to see what problems people are having in the subreddit /r/googlecloud, and see if you can recreate their problem and find a solution. There are also a few Slack channels I will link in the resource section for you to look into.
Understand CLI - Know how to deploy/manage/delete resources from both the console and CLI (gcloud, gsutil, bq, kubectl)
Talk out-loud - This really helped me learning CLI commands and might just help you! “gcloud compute instances create instances (instance_name)”. I recommend doing this on your own, not near your spouse who’s trying to read.
Read actual GCP documentation - These resources are good, and I recommend you check them out, but reading the GCP documentation really helps too!
*Disclaimer: These are the tips that helped me pass the Google ACE. They don’t guarantee a passing score.*
Resources I used:
Antoni Tzavelas’ GCP Cloud engineer Course
Dan Sullivan’s book
A Cloud Guru GCP Course
Cloud Advocate Youtube channel
The Google Associate Cloud Engineer exam is no easy task and will require you to have hands on experience. I have yet to meet someone who passed just by watching/reading, if you do let me know.
Sign up for that free tier option Google offers and start building! Make sure you are looking at the exam guide on a daily basis and ensure you know how to perform the action it mentions in both the console and CLI.
Learning GCP has been an awesome experience for me and has pushed me out of my comfort zone. While getting certified is great for me and my professional growth, all the stuff I learned along the way for studying was a reward in itself. If you find yourself struggling to grasp some of the concepts feel free to reach out to me in either Slack space. BigTuna is my handle.
Bio: Jake has been in IT for 4 years and is currently an IT Engineer for Aunt Bertha. He currently holds a CompTIA S+ and Google ACE certification and is currently working on Google’s Professional Cloud Architect certification.