Top Tips for Preparing and Passing the Confluent Certified Developer for Apache Kafka (CCDAK) Exam

A brick wall, which reminds me of log streams.
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I recently passed the Confluent Certified Developer for Apache Kafka (CCDAK) exam. I wanted to share my top tips with you by summarizing my process to prepare for and pass the exam successfully.

Why Take This Exam?

Certifications are an excellent way to study and stay up to date on the latest curriculum and gain a general understanding of the entire Apache Kafka ecosystem.

Kafka Is Becoming an Essential Component

Large companies like stock exchanges and Netflix use Kafka to send, stream, and consume vast amounts of data from and to thousands of endpoints. If you want to take advantage of data in real-time, in parallel, and by multiple services, then look at Apache Kafka!

More Companies Are Using Kafka

Kafka is in-demand! More customers are using it for their real-time data streaming pipelines. Two managed Apache Kafka services are Confluent Cloud and Amazon’s MSK, both of which customers are increasingly adopting to process and move streaming data from one system to another.

Understanding Kafka and having the certification will provide opportunities to contribute to these projects, and it will also make you stand out from the competition. Only 859 members of the Confluent Certified community on LinkedIn, which puts you in a relatively exclusive community.

Who Can Take This Exam?

Anyone can take this exam. Be prepared to shell out $150 for the testing fee.

There are no technical or experience prerequisites, but you want to have a working knowledge of Java and Garbage Collection along with some prior Kafka experience. Give yourself sufficient lead time to adequately prepare for the exam to avoid the inconvenience and additional expense of having to retake the test. (Do you want to include that you failed the first time?)

How to Prepare for This Exam

Listen to stuff

Online courses are a great way to prepare for the exam, and you can listen during times you would usually listen to the radio or podcasts. First, listen to these three courses below in their entirety.

More courses

Once you’ve finished listening to these courses, you can check out more courses on Udemy like other Stephane Maarek, Learn Apache Kafka 2.0 Ecosystem, and his Kafka streaming course.

Get to know the latest.

Subscribe to the Streaming Audio: A Confluent Podcast about Apache Kafka on your favorite podcast platform to better understand the Kafka community and what people think about these days.

Books

The book “Kafka: The Definitive Guide” by Neha Narkhede, Gwen Shapira, and Todd Palino was also helpful for looking up some in-depth details by authoritative voices in the field.

Just one resource?

If you could only choose one resource, the most useful for me was the Apache Kafka Deep Dive course on A Cloud Guru. It provides the most comprehensive overview and offers extensive details and concise real-world examples. Listen to it repeatedly to extrapolate as much information as you can.

Hands-on practice

Once you have thoroughly completed the audio courses and podcasts, the most important way to fully prepare is by doing some hands-on practice exams.

Go to the Confluent Cloud platform and Amazon MSK and compare those two services. Launch clusters on both services and observe all the options. Then, produce and consume content from the MSK cluster you created using an EC2 Instance on which you install Kafka (Not sure what this sentence means. Could you please clarify?) For comparison on MSK with Confluent Cloud, see the link below (I don’t know the link to add a hyperlink)

My YouTube Channel

And one more resource is my YouTube channel which has videos on some of these topics, including a video version of this article:

How Hard is This Exam?

The exam was not extremely hard, but I did not pass my first time.

The word “developer” in the title of this certification threw me off because there’s also an administrator certification that Confluent has put out. I mistakenly thought I wouldn’t need to worry about Java or garbage collection, but they appear in the exam. This developer certification does sprinkle in some operational questions as well.

Confluence expectations of the passing score are slightly higher than other certification exams.

For those surprise questions on Java, garbage collection, and so forth, take a look at the Kafka Deep Dive course on A Cloud Guru.

Exam Content and Format

  • 60 questions
  • 120 minutes
  • Multiple choice, multiple responses, and sample directions
  • Broken down into three main domains: Application Design, Domain Development, and Deployment/Testing
  • Certification is valid for two years
  • Testing is available on Zoom, so you do not need to go to a testing center.

How Long to Prepare for This Exam?

A few months.

Don’t try to breeze through the CCDAK course on A Cloud Guru. Take the time to thoroughly understand the core Kafka concepts, listen to the lectures, and take as many hands-on practice exams as possible. If you score in the 85%+ range on the A Cloud Guru practice exam, then you should be ready.

My Exam Experience

This certification is the only one I’ve taken so far offered on Zoom. I liked that it wasn’t as long as other exams. The allotted exam time was 120 minutes, and I only needed 60 minutes.

The questions were short, but some were tricky. Some had irrelevant information designed to throw you off, so watch out.

Score at least an 85% on the A Cloud Guru practice exam, but don’t take it a day after the last time you took the practice exam. If you fail the practice exam, put a lot of additional study into it and then take the exam at a later date so that you’re not just basing it off of your memory of the last practice exam.

Here are some things to keep in mind for the online exam:

  • Technical requirements: built-in camera and mic.
  • Government-issued ID to verify your identity (driver’s license, passport).
  • No mobile phones or snacks.
  • Any attempt to leave the computer will result in a failure.

Summary of Top Tips for taking this exam

  1. Listen to the audio courses extensively until you know them inside and out.
  2. Don’t forget to re-familiarize yourself with Java and Garbage Collection because they appear in the exam.
  3. Take as many practice exams as possible.

If you have any questions about preparing for the exam or tips for what you did that helped you, leave a comment below. Good luck!

Resources

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