Eija Kulmala

How I got Google Cloud Certified

Ok so, I’m now a Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect, got the verification email a few days ago.

When I really started studying for the exam two months ago, I found some stories on how people had managed to pass the exam, and I found those quite interesting. So I thought I’d write my own story now that I’ve passed the exam.


But first: what is Professional Cloud Architect?

Here is how Google explains it:

”A Professional Cloud Architect enables organizations to leverage Google Cloud technologies. With a thorough understanding of cloud architecture and Google Cloud Platform, this individual can design, develop, and manage robust, secure, scalable, highly available, and dynamic solutions to drive business objectives.”


Studying for the exam

So, like I said, I started to study two months ago. I had already booked the exam date and time a month before thinking it would be good to have a deadline to help me schedule my studies. The way it turned out was that at first I did nothing for the exam (on top of working with Google Cloud everyday that is), I kept thinking that I still have enough time to study, I will start a bit later.

I had already been working with several GCP projects and felt like I knew at least something about the matter, but was well aware that there were many areas I’m still not that familiar with. Especially networking and security. So I knew I had to study. I started by experimenting with the areas in GCP that I hadn’t been using a lot, created test projects and deployments, tried different kinds of services, components and configurations. I read through the Google documentation and instructions, practised with Google’s hands-on guides in GCP and tried some of the Qwiklabs trainings as well. That definitely built up my confidence, it didn’t seem that difficult.

Once I thought I’d had enough of GCP console, gcloud and Google documentation, I continued to online courses in Coursera, quickly browsing through the “Application Development in GCP” stuff which I had already studied in the past, moving on to courses related to designing and architecturing in Google Cloud. One course I found very exciting and useful was “Preparing for the Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect Exam”. It goes through the Google products you need to be familiar with in order to do well in the exam, also introducing the three sample case studies that are used in the exam. It doesn’t tell you much about the exam itself, but helps you distinguish what you know and what you still need to focus on when studying.

Ok, so I’m screwed I thought. No way I’m going to pass the real exam with that.

I started to feel confident about my knowledge. That was until I took Google’s online practice exam. My result was 50%. Ok, so I’m screwed I thought. No way I’m going to pass the real exam with that. Although Google doesn’t tell what is the actual limit on passing the real exam, I’m pretty sure it isn’t 50% or even 60%, the bar has to be higher than that! I started panicking. At that point I had less than 2 weeks to the booked exam, how was I to pass it if I knew only 50% of the stuff? I told myself to relax, and continue studying. I still had enough time, right?

So I signed in to Whizlabs courses. Found a good one called “Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect” with also 4 practise tests containing 200 practise questions. I studied through the course and started to feel more confident again, feeling ready to test my skills in those four practise tests. I didn’t pass, I got 72% correct (the bar to pass was 80%). I went through all the 4 tests, failing them all with 70-77% results. I didn’t feel that worried though, I was able to see the correct answers with explanations why they were correct and why the other choices were not. I realized that at least some of the questions could be a bit misleading. If you didn’t read them carefully through, you might misunderstand what was really asked and that was the reason for my incorrect answers on some of the questions. Some of the incorrect answers lead me to study certain areas a bit more. The next day I took the practise exams again and scored 95-100%. Although I still remembered the correct answers, I got a feeling I now understood WHY the correct answers were what they were, thus giving me more confidence that I’d be ready to take the real exam. The last few days before the exam I went through the Whizlab course again and reviewed the stuff in Coursera once more just to refresh my memory.


The exam

The questions in the real exam were quite similar to those in Whizlabs practise tests. I mean not the same questions or course, but the format of the questions were the same, ie. describing you a customer problem/case that you’d need to find a correct solution to. I didn’t find any of the questions too hard to understand but some of the answer choices were challenging, some so similar to each other that I felt I could only guess the correct answer of the two solutions which both sounded correct. It took me 60 minutes (out of 120 minutes given) to answer the 50 questions, then around 45 minutes to review my answers. I finally submitted my answers when there was 15 minutes left on the clock. I wasn’t sure if I’d pass, I felt it could go either way. I didn’t think I’d get the result right away, so I was devastated to see the word FAIL on the screen. At that point I thought that was it, I’m never going to try that again! What’s the point in wasting more time studying and then just fail again. I drove to work and told my team I’d failed. They were super supportive, saying it’s ok and that the exam is indeed VERY hard to pass, and that I shouldn’t feel too bad about it. Still, I felt like one big failure!

So there I was again, thinking what can I do to make sure I pass the exam.

It took me three weeks to start feeling that maybe I could try the exam one more time. But I just couldn’t find any time for studying so I decided to do it at some point but not in a very near future. So, I really don’t know why I went to even check for the next available exam days, just to see the next one would be just two days ahead… I checked my calendar and realized I had 2 days totally free in my calendar, and just quickly booked the exam slot before my brain could tell me to back off. So there I was again, thinking what can I do to make sure I pass the exam.

I signed in to Whizlabs and started going through the practise tests again. I got through all the questions and answers, and opened every one of the documentation links it offered me when showing the correct answers with explanations. I opened them to a new tab on my browser and decided I’d read ALL of them through! That took me almost two days, but I was able to do that in time. I finished at around 9 pm the evening before the exam.

I had been wise enough to book the exam for 8:30 am, the very first slot they had. That way I didn’t have that much time to panic before the exam.

I didn’t sleep well at all, all those questions and answers going through my mind. When I woke up the next morning I was tired and had a head-ache, but decided not to let that prevent me from taking the exam. I had been wise enough to book the exam for 8:30 am, the very first slot they had. That way I didn’t have that much time to panic before the exam. This time it took me something like 75 minutes to finish the first round, I had around 20 questions marked for a review and spent the rest of the time going through those. I had 7 minutes left when I submitted my answers. I was very nervous, I didn’t feel confident I’d pass. Although I was pretty sure I had most of the answers correct, I still had some I wasn’t that sure of. This time I knew I’d get the preliminary result right away, so I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and took a glimpse of the screen. And there it was, finally, the word “Pass”.

Eija Kulmala
Software Developer

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