GCP Professional Cloud Architect Certification - Everything you need to know

Artur Bartosik
6 min readNov 12, 2020

There is a high probability that you came here looking for an answer to the question of how to pass the GCP Professional Cloud Architect exam? If so, I hope you can find some helpful information here. I’m not going to list all the questions you might come across here, nothing like that. I will try to bring you closer to the scope of the material, what the exam itself looks like, and what materials may be useful for you when preparing for the GCP Professional Cloud Architect exam. I took this exam myself at the end of June this year, so I want to share my experience and impressions with you

Google Cloud Platform certifications

Before we move to the topic of the article, take a quick look at the entire cross-section of GCP certification

Google like other large cloud providers, has an extensive certification offer. The most popular certificates and the most chosen ones are Cloud Engineer and Cloud Architect. From the picture, we can conclude that these exams have different levels. However, from my observations, the difficulty level is very similar. The difference is the specificity of these exams. The Cloud Engineer exam focuses more on the skills needed for daily work with GCP. This is a more technical exam. In this exam, there may be questions about very GCP-specific use-cases or even questions about specific CLI commands. As for the Cloud Architect range, this one is wider but shallower. The exam is more theoretical, not so much focused on the specific aspects of GCP. Universal knowledge of software architecture and understanding of business requirements is useful here.

In short, if you have commercial experience with the GCP cloud, the Engineer exam may be easier for you. However, if you don’t work with GCP on a daily basis, but you have experience with a different cloud, I recommend that you take the Professional Cloud Architect exam first.

Basic information about the GCP Professional Cloud Architect exam

  • the duration of the exam is 2 hours — in my opinion, it is enough. If you are well prepared, it is possible to solve the tasks in about an hour.
  • the exam consists of 50 single-choice and multi-choice questions
  • in multiple-choice questions, we get information on how many correct answers we have to select
  • there is no partial point for multi-choice questions
  • there are no negative points
  • many of the questions are scenario-based. We are put in the role of an architect and we have to choose the most optimal solution.
  • about 20% of questions based on the case study. The case study is a description of 3 business concepts prepared for the exam. You have access to the descriptions of these case studies during the exam, but it is very important to have these concepts well mastered before certification.
  • 80% correct answers are required to pass the exam
  • the cost of the exam is $ 200
  • the certificate is valid for 2 years from the date of its passing. After this time, it is necessary to start it again
  • Google will not publish our exact result. We will only receive information that we have passed the exam or not.
  • we can take the exam remotely

Preparation materials for the GCP Professional Architect exam

There are a lot of courses anon the GCP cloud and strictly preparation for the exam available on the web. I started my adventure with GCP from scratch about three months before my exam. For the first two months, I combined deepening my theoretical knowledge with practical exercises. In the last month before the exam, I spent time solving sample tests. Below is a list of courses and sources that I have used. In my opinion, getting to know them is enough to get a positive result on the official test.

ACG GCP Professional Cloud Architect course - a complementary course that fully prepares you for the exam, as well as a friendly introduction to the world of GCP. Rich in extra materials, labs, and sample tests. A good proposition for someone who already has experience with cloud, but not with GCP. If you don’t have such experience, GCP 101 can also be a good starting point.

Whizalabs Practice Test - a very large database of sample questions. We get 4 Mock exams here with unique questions. These are not questions from official exams, but their form reflects the certification exam. Each question is accompanied by explanations to help you understand the issue.

Dan Sullivan Professional Cloud Architect Study Guide - preparation book for the Professional Architect Exam. Explaining aspects not only related to GCP but also to the system architecture and business knowledge. The book also includes a rich number of exam questions that are definitely worth practicing.

Official Google Practice Exam - a few sample questions that you should read as part of our preparation.

Professional Cloud Architect - exam scope

Below I have listed a few topics that constitute the scope of the material. It is certainly not a full-range list, but I recommend that you check off these topics while you study

  • IAM - Organization, Folder, Project, Role, Service Account
  • Services from Operations aka Stackdriver - Logging, Monitoring, Trace etc.
  • Networking - VPC, Subnet, VPN, Shared VPC, Peering, Interconnect, Cloud DNS
  • Load Balancer - types and use of
  • Databases - CloudSQL, Spanner, Datastore/Firestore, BigTable, BigQuery, Memorystore - use of, and database-specific functionalities
  • Cloud Storage - versioning, lifecycle, storage class, gsutil
  • Kubernetes Engine - very basic knowledge of kubernetes itself, basic CLI commands
  • Compute Engine - types, auto-scaling, instance group, disks, snapshots, migrations
  • App Engine - types and use of, deployment, traffic splitting
  • Cloud Functions, Cloud Endpoints - the basics
  • Deployment Manager - the basics
  • Dataproc, Dataflow, Dataprep, Datalab, Data Studio, Data Catalog, Data Composer - use of
  • Pub/Sub - use of
  • CloudML, Vision API, Speech API, Natural Language API, Speech to Text - use of
  • Cloud Data Loss Prevention - use of
  • Cloud KMS - basics and use of
  • Identity Federation, Cloud Directory Sync, Identity Aware Proxy - use of
  • Cloud Armor - use of
  • Cloud migration - gsutil, Storage Transfer Service, Transfer Appliance
  • Concepts such as: High Availability, Scalability, Disaster Recovery, Cost Optimization
  • Standards and regulations PCI, HIPAA, GDPR, COPPA - it is enough to know what a given regulation concerns

Practical tips for the exam

  • the first time you go through the questions, try not to spend more than 2/3 minutes per question. If you are unsure of the answer, flag the question and come back to it later
  • there is a chance that you will find a clue in other questions
  • try to answer the questions using the method of elimination. It often happens that part of the answer is easy to drop by reducing our choice to 2 options that differ in one detail
  • try to catch the key-words in the questions that should lead you to the correct answer. For example, if question ask for time-series database, it is a clear sign that it is BigTable
  • use the full exam time, if you have already answered all questions, use the remaining time to retake the exam from start to finish and do a diligent review

Online exam

  • before starting the online exam, you will be asked to show exactly where you are taking the exam. During the exam itself, you will be supervised by a proctor using a camera and microphone
  • during the online exam, you must ensure that no one interrupts you in any way. It is unacceptable that any of the household members enter the room where you are taking the exam
  • you can take the exam on a computer with Windows or MacOS, unfortunately it is not possible to take it on Linux. This is due to the fact that you need to install special software and create a biometric profile there
  • if possible, have a spare computer ready. It saved the situation for me. For some unknown reason, my biometric profile couldn’t authorize me and allow me to take the exam before the exam started. On the backup computer, I had no problem with this



Artur Bartosik

DevOps & Serverless Enthusiast. AWS, GCP, and K8S certified. Home page: https://abartosik.dev