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Road to RHCA: Bumps and Bruises and What I'm Studying

Did you ever crash into another kid when running around on the playground and get a nasty bump—the kind that swells and turns hues of purple, green then yellow? That's how I've felt on many occasions during my journey to Red Hat Certified Architect, although of course, most of my bumps and bruises weren't physical ones, but boy, the emotional and mental ones were not just my imagination.

Some of those bumps and bruises could have completely stopped me, but they've also made me much more resilient. I hope that you too can learn how to build resilience in your life when preparing for exams and certifications or just keeping up with the demands of a career in information technology. My other hope is to inspire others, and especially those who look like me and have chosen a field that can be constantly challenging and exciting but that requires a lot of grit and determination.

Once I decided to pursue the RHCA, I knew it would require time away from family, friends and from doing things that many would consider to be much more fun and exciting than reading, studying and practicing for an exam. I decided first to purchase the exam vouchers and set a date and time that I would take the exam to make me stay on track. I heard of someone completing all five exams in five months, and of course, I think to myself, wow that's amazing. But, I remembered not to compare myself to others, so I returned my focus to what would work best for me.

Realizing I can't predict everything that might happen along the way, I decided to schedule each exam 2–3 months out, depending on what I already know about the subject matter or the practical experience I already have.

In my preparation for the EX407K, the Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation, I decided to use Linux Academy's preparation course, "Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation Prep Course". The course is 31:19:44 hours long. The great thing about using Linux Academy is that I've used that platform for many years to prepare for other exams, so I know how reliable it is. Also, a great scheduling function is built in to the platform that lets me block out the amount of time and the days I want to study. For this exam, I chose two hours Monday–Friday and three hours on Saturdays. Right now, I'm on track to complete the course by July 14, 2018.

The course includes a lot of quizzes and practice exams. In fact, the practice exam at the end of the course is 2 hours and 22 minutes long. It will allow me to get a sense of where I stand and still give me a couple weeks to take the practice exam several times before the scheduled exam on July 31, 2018.

Listed below are the core skills and abilities I'll possess once I've completed my Linux Academy training, along with some additional reading using the DO407 "Automation with Ansible I" course study guide. I plan to check off these areas as I go along and revisit them at the end of my practice exams:

Because the EX407 is performance-based like all of Red Hat's exams, practice, practice, practice is necessary. The exam likely will require me to develop Ansible playbooks that configure systems for specific roles and then apply those playbooks to systems to implement those roles. Also, I may be asked to demonstrate my ability to run Ansible playbooks and configure an Ansible environment for specific behaviors.

The exam is three hours. Official scores for the exam will come from Red Hat, and of course, I'll sign a non-disclosure agreement during the exam.

Earning the Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Ansible Automation may be good for the following:

So although on some days, I may not complete my study schedule because of other things life brings, I know adjustments are always possible. The point is not to get down on myself but to focus on the end goal. And, now I'm off to study Loops and Conditionals, error handling in playbooks, tagging tasks in playbooks and then do a quiz, a couple exercises and a couple hands-on labs. Wish me luck.

—Taz Brown

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