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How to Prepare For The Google Cloud Digital Leader Certification Exam

Updated: Mar 20, 2022


Introduction

The Google Cloud Digital Leader certification is the fundamental Google Cloud certification and an excellent way to expand your basic yet introductory technical understanding of Google Cloud.


The Google Cloud Digital Leader certification is for anyone who wishes to demonstrate their knowledge of cloud computing basics and how Google Cloud products and services can be used to achieve an organization's goals. It is also equivalent to the AWS Cloud Practitioner and Azure Fundamental certifications.


The exam also changed in January of this year. However, I believe that it did not change dramatically. Although I have never taken the original exam, I took the one launched after January 26, 2022, but studied solely from materials created for the initial exam. There may be an additional focus on AI/ML products, which seems to be the main difference in Google's updated exam guide.


The Cloud Digital Leader exam assesses your knowledge in these areas:

  • Digital transformation with Google Cloud (~10% of the exam)

  • Innovating with data and Google Cloud (~30% of the exam)

  • Infrastructure and application modernization (~30% of the exam)

  • Google Cloud security and operations (~30% of the exam)

This blog reviews my experience studying and taking the certification, best practices, and tips on how to succeed in becoming a certified Google Cloud Digital Leader.


Overview

Overall I found this exam quite challenging. Andrew Brown from ExamPro states that this exam is the most difficult out of the other public cloud fundamental certifications. He rates it three times as hard as the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam and about twice as hard as the Azure Fundamentals exam.


The reason this exam is considered so difficult is not that the questions are highly technical; it is because the questions are written in a complex way. In comparison, the questions for the other public cloud certifications were written concisely and did not lead to any confusion or doubt. Because of this, I highly recommend using practice exams as a critical element of your training.


What to Expect on the Exam

As stated above in the introduction, the exam is split into four different categories, but it is mixed together. Expect to have a solid understanding of the benefits of cloud computing and be familiar with common terminology and their meaning, such as high-availability or SLAs (Service Level Agreements).


You should also be familiar with Google Cloud's most popular products like BigQuery, BigTable, Cloud Run, Cloud Spanner, App Engine, Compute Engine, AutoML, etc. Check out these flashcards for a list of some of Google Clouds' most popular products and their definitions.


The exam questions are worded as if you have a customer with a specific problem or number of issues that you are required to solve. Here is an example of the level of detail and customer-centric approach to Google Cloud's exam question:


Question: Your company is forecasting a sharp increase in the number and size of Apache Spark and Hadoop jobs being run on your local data center. You want to utilize the cloud to help you scale this upcoming demand with the least amount of operations work and code change. Which product should you use?


  1. Google Cloud Dataflow

  2. Google Cloud Dataproc

  3. Google Compute Engine

  4. Google Container Engine


Best Resources to Help You Study

Google Cloud released their own training site called Google Cloud Skills Boost, where you can earn badges that you can showcase publicly; for example, here is mine if you want to look at how it shows up. Google also acquired QwikLabs in 2016, which they still actively use as their primary source for hands-on training in a lab environment. The labs are beneficial and a tangible way to understand what you are learning. You do not need to have hands-on experience for the exam, but it is helpful.


The best study resource was Andrew Brown's ExamPro course, which many would agree. He offers free content, including the entire course which is a series of videos. You can purchase the 'pro' version, which has additional resources and, most importantly, more practice exams. It is only 24 USD, and I felt that this was more helpful than the videos on Google's Skills Boost training site.


Additionally, I created a "Google Cloud Digital Leader Certification Study Guide" and "Google Cloud Product Flashcards" as a couple of free resources. They are completely open for anyone to add or suggest changes and are designed to help as many people as possible to become certified as a Google Cloud Digital Leader. The study guide also has highlighted sections on what I thought were essential areas to focus on for the exam.


How to Book an Exam and What to Expect During the Exam

Google Cloud uses Krypterion to book their certifications and proctor the online and virtual exams. You can attend a local testing center, depending on where you are located, or take the test virtually.


Originally I booked an in-person exam at a testing center close to me but decided to cancel the appointment as Covid cases in my area were increasing. The Krypterion site does warn people that they could be charged a fee for canceling exams if they choose to cancel at the last minute. I canceled and tried to rebook the exam three days in advance, but I was still charged the cancellation fee. The exam costs USD 99, which is roughly CAD $130, and I was charged CAD $79 for the cancellation fee. I successfully rebooked the exam online, which is proctored by someone virtually.


Do expect some minor frustrations with the virtual testing software. The proctor is not visible, but they can message you through a slightly finicky chat. They ask you to turn your camera on, and you will spend at least 20 minutes taking your laptop camera around your office, showing them you cannot cheat the exam. You are allocated 90 additional minutes to write the exam, but you will probably only need 30-40 minutes.


Results & Blockchain Verification

After finishing the exam, be prepared not to see your results immediately, as they let you know that it could take 7-10 business days for someone to review your results. I took the exam on a Thursday and received the congratulation email confirming I had passed on the following Friday.


What I find unique about Google's certifications is that they use a company called Accredible, a comprehensive digital badge and certificate platform built on blockchain to handle its certification programs. This allows recruiters or your current employer to verify your certification in real-time using blockchain technology. Here is my certification if you would like to test the verification validation yourself. If you would like to learn more about blockchain, I wrote an article that explains some key business benefits of that emerging technology.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the Google Cloud Digital Leader exam is challenging, mainly because of how the exam questions are worded. I studied for a couple of hours each weekend over two months. I already had significant Google Cloud knowledge from a product marketing standpoint but still felt slightly unprepared for the types of questions in the exam.

I also have a product marketing background with AWS and took one of the AWS Cloud Practitioner practice exams. I felt that it was much easier, and I also plan to take that exam towards the end of the month and write a comparison blog. So follow me if you would like to read that article, and I will continue to add free resources to my website at www.walkrinthecloud.com/resources.

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1 Comment


Ajit K
Ajit K
May 01, 2023

Hello Sarah,


Many thanks for writing and sharing your experience as well as very well documented guidebook and flashcards. I have booked an exam date next month and these resources will be of immense help.


Regards,

Ajit

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