Getting 6 GCP certifications in 3 weeks

My experience and how I did it

https://googlecloudcertified.credential.net/profile/77938c34fde04f448ac399520fee4a86bea11771

The Certification List

  • GCP Professional Security Engineer
  • GCP Professional Data Engineer
  • GCP Professional Cloud Developer
  • GCP Professional DevOps Engineer
  • GCP Professional Collaboration Engineer

Why do so many in such a short time?

One of my Forrest Gump Streaks

My Employer’s Generous Training Budget

Feeling Competitive

Love GCP

Can anyone do what I did?

Had I been new to all things DevOps and cloud it would have been nearly impossible for me to pass all the exams, and even if by some miracle I had managed to do it, my understanding would have been flimsy at best, because it takes a while to get competency in all of these areas — a lot more than 3 weeks for mere mortals like me.

So in a nutshell, if you have experience with GCP on the topics covered in the exams and the time to review you absolutely CAN do it, you could probably do it in just two weeks if you study hard and push yourself revising, but if you don’t have that, then I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way at all. In fact one of the reasons why I haven’t taken the Machine Learning certification is because of my lack of knowledge and experience in the topic, so for that one I will probably study for a month or two if I decide to take it later.

Timeline of the exams

GCP Network and GCP Security

Funny story, I actually meant to book the GCP Security exam first but I messed up and I booked the Network exam instead, which I hadn’t prepared for, and I only realised this when I got to the testing centre! I am an idiot sandwich

I took it anyway fully expecting to fail but somehow I passed it. After that, since I had prepared for the security exam and it was fresh in my mind I decided to go ahead and book it for the next day and I passed that too. It was a productive weekend for sure!

GCP Data

I revised for this exam the most and I read this book. In retrospect I was a bit overconfident and I should have probably left it for last and dedicated more time to it. I have a reasonable understanding of GCP Data products and what they do, but I wouldn’t qualify myself as an expert by any means in this domain, especially when compared with the topics on the other certifications, I was a bit out of my depth.

GCP Developer and GCP DevOps

I thought these two exams were going to be a walk in the park for me as it is my bread and butter but I found them very tough, it almost felt as if I was totally unprepared for it.

GCP Collaboration Engineer

I left this exam for last as it doesn’t really cover a lot of things that I would usually work with on a day to day basis, but it didn’t seem like it would be too difficult compared to other certifications so I decided to take it for completion’s sake.

The GCP Exam Experience

If I had to describe passing a GCP exam, I’d say rather than feeling elated, I felt more like I had just survived a car accident.

The questions are more often than not, very confusing, ambiguous and verbose, and in my opinion it feels difficult, but not in the best of ways. Other times the answers are so much alike and seemingly correct that it is very difficult to tell accurately what’s right and what’s “less right”. More about the questions later.

The Good Stuff About Getting GCP Certified

Knowledge

Another thing I like about GCP certifications is that many of the topics are cloud agnostic, and you will learn many things that can be applied to any cloud, for example the SRE fundamentals you will have to learn for the DevOps certification.

While I don’t feel that getting certified is proof of competency at all, it does give you enough scope of the GCP catalogue and best cloud practices so you are aware of what to do in multiple situations and in the Google recommended way of doing it, in that sense getting certified is very good.

Curriculum Decorator

I don’t have very good statistics here and I can’t say I am a certification expert, but if you want to know about the market value of certifications there are some compelling reasons here.

You are more Unique

You get free goodies (Swag)

The free bounty from 7 passed GCP certifications

The Not-So-Good about GCP Certifications

The Questions

Another very frustrating characteristic of the questions is their ambiguity, which goes kind of like this:

You are at home studying for a test on your desk and it is dark, what will you do?

a. Turn on the desk lamp
b. Turn on the ceiling lights
c. Use a backlit keyboard and turn down the brightness of your screen so it doesn’t hurt your eyes.
d. Go to a room with a bigger window so you can get more light.
e. Go outside and study in the garden where it is bright and you can get fresh air.

This question is obviously made up and tongue-in-cheek to illustrate a point, but it is not very far off from the truth (In reality the question wouldn’t be one line, it would be more like a War and Peace novel). All of the choices given are correct and they would all work but it is very difficult to tell which one Google deems as most right and would grade as correct, and a little too often scouring through their documentation does not give any indication whatsoever what would be the best answer.

Even if you actually manage to get a few questions from the actual exam on a website like ExamTopics, you can see the agony in the comments quite often, people arguing what answer is right or wrong, and how the consensus is so often wrong.

Saying that, there may be a point to this ambiguity. This is entirely speculative but I suspect that when taking GCP exams perhaps they grade you differently depending on what choices you pick. So for example in the above question they may give you 3 points for A, 2 points for B, etc. Again, this is entirely speculative but if that’s what they do, perhaps it makes a bit more sense to write questions like this. We will never know this for sure though, as Google does not release any information as to how they grade the exams, so this will always remain a mystery.

The Wait for Google to Confirm your Results

In my case I got the certificate within a couple of working days except for when I did the last three, which took them a week.

Revising for the exams

How I did NOT study for the Certifications

  • Coursera
  • Entire Course Videos of any kind in places like Udemy.
  • Books (with the exception of the Data Engineer study guide)
  • Qwiklabs

The reason why I didn’t use any of these is because of my familiarity with the topics and because it would have taken too much time to go through stuff I already knew reasonably well. I will do Qwiklabs at some point later as part of my own edification with tools I want to get more familiar with, but I didn’t think there was a lot of incentive for me to do it this time around, especially since last time I tried it, so many of the labs were broken, it kind of put me off.

How I studied for the certifications

YouTube Videos
GCP has a very good channel with all kinds of useful information and well presented videos, so whenever I wanted to learn something in particular I could always find a video here explaining it.

Sample GCP Questions
Every exam has some sample questions, and while it is very rare that those questions will actually be in the exam, it at least gives you some idea of the sort of topics that will be covered in the exam and how prepared you are for it. Be warned that the actual questions are far more tricky than those found in the sample, at least that’s how I felt.

Practice Questions (if available)
There are some sites that offer scores of questions based on what you might get in the exam. The most popular of these sites are Whizlabs and Udemy. Whizlabs has a nice presentation and they do well on explaining most of their answers and Udemy’s quality is usually pretty good too, Your best bet is to check the reviews and see what others say before buying.

That being said, while I did value and learned from going through these questions to pinpoint where my weak spots were. I also must warn that the questions I ended up seeing in the exam were too often nothing like the ones I got there. The GCP Developer and Data Certification for example really threw me off. I thought I knew my stuff from going over the material and my accuracy on the practice questions in WhizLabs but I was in a sweat on the exam… but I passed, so I guess maybe they did help a bit? I can’t say for sure because for the DevOps and Network exams I didn’t revise questions at all and I passed. At any rate, I always try to go through as many questions as I can, as that’s the format of the exam and sometimes they do help throwing light on what you don’t know.

There are many sites that offer exam dumps for a price as well, my advice here is to be very careful as most of them are of very soddy quality and the answers may occasionally or often be wrong, which is why it is important you know the material and not just memorise answers. Perhaps the most popular and “least dodgy” of these sites may be ExamTopics. Some of the questions you will find in the actual exam are there. HOWEVER, despite their claim of questions being “Expert Verified”, most of the answers for the GCP exams on that site are wrong! In order to counterbalance that, there are discussion forums on the site but even then, sometimes the consensus is also wrong or misleading, so beware of trusting these sites too much as a source of study materials. It’s okay to use them as a study guide, but make sure you know your stuff before blowing cash and failing at the exam.

I didn’t wait long to book the exam

Conclusion