Posted in Cloud, Openstack

Tips to pass OpenStack Foundation (COA) Certified OpenStack Administrator exam.

I was busy studying OpenStack Foundation’s COA exam so couldn’t publish blog post for a while.

Luckily I have passed the COA exam and hard work pays off. As I have passed this so thought of sharing my experience with the exam.

This post is basically contains some tips/info about OpenStack Foundation (COA) Certified OpenStack Administrator exam.

Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA) is the first professional certification offered by the OpenStack Foundation. It’s designed to help companies identify top talent in the industry, and help job seekers demonstrate their skills.

The Certified OpenStack Administrator is a professional typically with at least six months of OpenStack experience, and has the skills required to provide day-to-day operation and management of an OpenStack cloud.

The current exam is based on the OpenStack Liberty version and covers the core compute, storage and networking services. To learn more about the knowledge requirements and domains covered in the exam, go to


Important points about (COA) Certified OpenStack Administrator exam

  • The COA is a performance-based exam. Candidates can use commandline interface and horizon dashboard to solve the problems.
  • COA exam price is $300.
  • Current COA exam is based on Liberty Version.
  • Candidates are monitored virtually by a proctor during the exam session via streaming audio, video, and screensharing feeds.
  • Candidates are required to provide their own front-end hardware (laptop or workstation) with Chrome or Chromium browser.
  • Good Internet speed, webcam and microphone is required to take this exam.
  • Candidates should use the compatibility check tool to verify their environment to meet minimum requirements.
  • Candidates are required to provide government issued photo ID proof before exam.
  • Exam duration is 2.5 hours
  • Upon completion, exams are scored automatically and a score report will be made available within three (3) business days.
  • Passing score is 76% for this exam
  • One (1) free retake per Exam purchase will be granted in the event that a passing score is not achieved.
  • The free retake must be taken within 12 months of the date of the original Exam purchase.


Tips to pass COA exam.

  • Try to attempt all the questions in exams this will increase your chances passing the exam.
  • Don’t try to type all project name, volume name, username asked in questions. instead use Ctrl+Insert to copy and Shift+Insert to paste in Microsoft Windows operating systems. This will save lots of time to attempt other Qs. Shortcuts Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V are not supported in the exam terminal currently.
  • Practice and solve most of the Qs from horizon as it will be fast and save time compared to solve through commandline.
  • Root privileges can be obtained by running ‘sudo -i’.
  • The resources from  are allowed during the Exam.
  • If the OpenStack Server Terminal is experiencing latency issues you can refresh exam window that will help.
  • Create one file in /tmp folder and log all skipped Qs and come back later if more time left. This will help to quickly navigate to skipped Qs directly if you have time.
  • Installation of services and applications are already included in this exam so no need to install anything else, may require modification of system security policies to solve some problems.
  • There are couple of Qs which cannot be solved through dashboard so practice on commandline as well.
  • If you failed in first attempt prepare harder and retake the exam within a week as you got some experience about exam and know the type of Qs.
  • After successfully passed the COA exam wait for 2 days and verify the certification details from link

I can not disclose more information as I am under NDA after taking this exam.

Following resources are useful to check before exam.

Stephen Smith – Prepping for the OpenStack Administrator Exam

The Test Takers Guide to the Certified OpenStack Administrator

And here is my Certified OpenStack Administrator Certificate.



All The Best for COA exam.






I have created this blog to share my learning from IT world. Hope you find it useful in your day to day work. Feel free to send me your feedback about my blog.

18 thoughts on “Tips to pass OpenStack Foundation (COA) Certified OpenStack Administrator exam.

  1. Hi Vishwanath,

    first of all, congratulations for getting such valuable Certification and thank you for sharing the tips needed during the exam,

    I am wondering if the first attempt is enough to pass successfully the exam, I mean, is the exam environment (VMs, question tabs,…) is clear enough to go forward to answers or you have to waste some time to be familiar with it? I faced such situations in CCIE & RHEL exams,

    if that will not break the NDA, the exam is based on which linux disto?

    Thanks in advance,


    1. Thanks for feedback.

      Yes. In first attempt you will get overall idea about exam environment, how to use exam terminals, even copy, paste is little tricky. After first attempt if you fail you will be very much confident to pass in second attempt.

      COA exam used Ansible to install OpenStack on Ubuntu but it is nothing to do with exam questions as most of the tasks are deal with day to day activities on OpenStack using commandline or dashboard.

      Only one suggestion try to complete all Q’s as simple ones will come later.

      Best of Luck for your exam.



  2. Hello Vishwanath,

    Thanks for sharing your experience and congratulations
    I’m wondering, how the openstack services were installed, were they installed on just one VM or deployed on multi nodes.



  3. Hi Vishwanath,

    Which openstack release is used for this exam?
    And if keystone commands would work or need to use openstack identity service commands

    For e.g.,

    1. keystone user-create –name swift –pass swift-secret
    2. openstack user create –domain default –project services –password swift-secret –enable –or-show swift



    1. Hi Madhu,

      COA exam is based on Liberty release.

      Openstack client is used in Liberty so you can use openstack commandline for all the tasks.
      In exam I will recommend use dashboard for most of the tasks and only use commandline for swift related tasks where you cannot use dashboard. It will save more time to cover multiple questions.



  4. Hi Vishwanath,
    First of all congrats for the certification. I have a few questions.
    1.Once we register for the exam do we get any type of study material?
    2. Is there a mock test that can be taken before the exams?
    3. Did u refer any book to clear the exams?
    4. How much time is required for a newbie to study all the concepts throughly?
    5. Should I register as Community memeber or Foundation member?

    Thanking you in advance.



    1. Hi Manish,

      Following are my answers for your questions.

      1.Once we register for the exam do we get any type of study material?
      –> Only study material available is

      2. Is there a mock test that can be taken before the exams?
      –> No mock exam but you will get one free retake.

      3. Did u refer any book to clear the exams?
      –> I have good amount hands-on experience so didn’t refer any book.

      4. How much time is required for a newbie to study all the concepts throughly?
      –> As per exam guidelines 6 months of hands-on experience is recommended to appear for this exam.

      5. Should I register as Community member or Foundation member?
      –> Register as Community member.



  5. I’m planning to study/appear for openstack exam (COA). But looks like many vendors have rebranded openstack like
    1. redhat
    2. mairantis
    3. oracle
    4. Suse

    I’m a bit confused which should I use, from production point of view the one by mirantis looks great from dashboard perspective. Actually I’m aware that the base concepts are same but openstack dashboard for each vendor is a bit different (and most of questions of COA can be done using GUI), even some of the vendors have changed the openstack commands a bit (CLI) which confused me a lot. Like if I go with vendor “A”, and dashboard/cli in exam is a bit different than that might create a bit of problem.

    Can you champs advise, how can I proceed with this case.


  6. Hi Kolaman,

    Don’t refer any vendor specific OpenStack docs/material for COA exam. This exam is purely based on vanilla OpenStack which is OpenSource OpenStack developed and supporting by OpenStack Foundation.

    For study of COA topics refer whatever falls under site.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.