How I became Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect in 15 days?

As you all know that the evolution of cloud computing has caused revolutionary changes in the IT industry. Cloud is the new hot topic and almost all IT people are chasing cloud certifications while they are in the industry. A few people, maybe like me, realized the importance of these actions and decided to take some certifications at the earliest stage of their career — as college student. I got certified on a few cloud certifications in the past 8 months. A highlighted one was the Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer exam, which I passed on the very first attempt falling among the first few students in the world to do so. Since then, I wanted to aim for the next certification — the professional ones. So, I decided to go for the Profesional Cloud Architect Exam and passed on my second attempt. In this article, I will tell you how I became a Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect in 15 days.

Initial Thoughts

Once I cleared the Associate Cloud Engineer(ACE) certification, I wanted to clear the next one. Since my interest was in developing architectures, I thought of attempting Professional Cloud Architect(PCA) exam. But, it wasn’t like the one which I just passed. I needed to prepare and I decided to take it at a later time since my university exams happened then. So, I skipped it for a while. In March, I lost my grandmother to COVID. I was heartbroken and devastated. For a few days, I was alone in the room, sad, and crying. She always used to say that I should become a great man one day. As her favourite grandson, I wanted to keep my promise I gave her. Thus, I decided to write the exam by the end of March.

About the exam

The exam has a pre-requisite for 3+ years of experience in the industry but it is to ensure that they have the necessary knowledge. A cloud architect should be able to build solutions that solve customer problems with consideration for technical and business requirements. Having done the Associate Cloud Engineer(ACE) will be an added advantage since the PCA exam will have some overlaps with the ACE exam. The cost of the exam is $200 but in India, it is $120. This rate is exclusive of taxes. You can choose an on-site proctored, where you will go to a test centre and write the exam or remote proctored, where you can take the test at home or office.

The Google Cloud Certified — Professional Cloud Architect exam assesses your ability to:

  • Design and plan a cloud solution architecture
  • Manage and provision the cloud solution infrastructure
  • Design for security and compliance
  • Analyze and optimize technical and business processes
  • Manage implementations of cloud architecture
  • Ensure solution and operations reliability

For a smooth experience, preparation is the key.

Preparation

  • The very first step is to have a study plan, which you must stick to it till the very end.
  • Prepare a study plan and decide how many hours per day you can contribute. The amount of time is not a factor but the amount of effort you take to concentrate is the hero.
  • Visit the Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect certification page on Google. This will give you an overview of the exam and what is required to complete the certification.
  • Understand the content of the exam. Visit the exam guide to see the contents in detail. You need to have a crystal clear understanding of the content you will need to prepare for the exam.

I highly recommend the “Official Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect Study Guide” by Dan Sullivan to get the best knowledge on GCP. It is available online to be purchased. The contents are divided into different chapters and each chapter contains review questions in the end. The questions there are pretty straightforward and simple. But, don’t expect the same to happen in the exam. It’s a whole new ball game when you get into the exam questions.

Having just theoretical knowledge is not enough but the ability to solve problems. That leads us to the next important step of preparation — the case studies. The old version of PCA had 3 case studies and the new version(released on May 2021) has two of the old case studies and two new studies included. This is an extremely important portion you should focus on. Around 20 out of 50 questions would be from case studies. The frequency of the questions from each case might also vary. So, it is very much essential to be prepared for all case studies. The case studies are also listed on the website.

There are wonderful YouTube playlists that would help you learn the concepts with ease. Two of the best are: AwesomeGCP by Sathish V J and Learn GCP with Mahesh by Mahesh Kumar R P. The practice questions and case studies are well explained.

You can also visit my YouTube channel, The Cloud Pilot, for tutorials on GCP and career development interviews with experts.

There are plenty of other courses available on online learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Whizlabs and A Cloud Guru. A good suggestion is the Cloud Architecture with Google Cloud Professional Certificate course on Coursera. Once you are done with the courses and learning, start with practice questions. Google Cloud offers some review practice questions on their website. Other websites also offer practice questions.

Make sure you practice well for the exam.

My Schedule

Day 1–3: Recap from the ACE materials
Day 4–10: Study Dan Sullivan’s Study Guide
Day 11–13: YouTube Playlists and Case Study workout
Day 13–15: Practice Questions

I had spent 3 hours every day

The Exam

If you have done ACE, you will feel it slightly easier. Remember not to be confused with the options. There will be enough time to come up with the correct answer. Don’t rush and stay calm. Never forget Google’s recommended practices. Slow and steady, you will get to know your result once you submit your exam.

Don’t be bothered about PASS OR FAIL. This is just a phase. If you fail, you learn from an experience.

My experience

I applied the method of fail fast and gave the exam on March 30. I FAILED. Though there was a disappointment, I decided to take it after 14 days which is the cool-off time by Google Cloud. Again on April 13, I decided to take the exam. This time, I was confident about passing the exam since I had a picture of how the questions would appear. So, I anticipated it a bit and it turned out to be true. I was able to finish the exam in around 45 minutes and submitted the exam. The result was PASS. Out of joy, I screamed. I did what I didn’t think that I could. Finally, I could make my grandmother proud.

Achievement

Being among the youngest in the world and among the first few students in the world to do this is quite an incredible achievement for me. This is my tribute to my favourite human on earth — my dearest grandmother. I know she will be proud of me and I still have a long way to go to fulfil all her wishes.

Result

You can’t become a cloud architect in 15 days. It is a responsible job where you will be solving customer’s/company’s problems with your skills. It requires a good amount of experience. For experienced people, it is comparatively easier. Ultimately, it depends on the level of knowledge you have on the industry practices and the business cases. The number of days for your preparation depends on how much effort you take.

“Make a plan, stick to it, write the exam, and get the cert. Develop great skills and reach great heights. “

Here is my certificate:

All the best and thanks for reading…

Google Cloud Consultant @ Deloitte | Multi-cloud Certified | Aspiring Pilot | Leader