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How To Pass The Terraform Associate Exam

I’ve just passed the Hashicorp Terraform Associate exam and thought I would share some thoughts on it and what I think you need to focus your studies on in order to pass it too.
Nathan Webster

Principal Consultant, Daemon

Although I’ve been working heavily with Terraform for the last two years, I use Terraform exclusively in combination with Terragrunt, so some of the fundamental pieces on how Terraform pieces together without Terragrunt were new to me.

I’d recommend having a play on your local machine with a few of the key commands and actions if you haven’t done them before. For example, go through the process of migrating terraform state from a local backend to a remote one.

Something to note, all the questions on the exam were multiple choice or “select two correct answers”. There were no free-text entry questions which I was expecting to see.

Key Areas To Focus On

  • Fundamental Commands
  • All About Terraform State
  • Backends / Providers
  • Variables / Named Resources
  • Provisioners: local-exec & remote-exec
  • Features In Terraform Cloud / Terraform Enterprise

Fundamental Commands

You should know everything about the following commands:

There are obviously other commands, but these were the ones covered most in my exam.

Terraform State

This is obviously the fundamental building block of Terraform and as you can imagine, it is heavily covered in the exam.

Make sure you know the following:

  • What terraform state is (go and have a look at an actual state file)
  • How to migrate state from a local to remote backend
  • What commands refresh your state file, and which don’t
  • How state locking works
  • What happens if the state changes mid plan/apply

Backends / Providers

It’s essential that you know how Backends and Provisioners work inside out. You don’t need to know all of the different providers that are available, just how to use one. A few key things that cropped up on my exam:



Variables / Named Resources

The key areas here are what input, local and output variables are, and how to refer to named resources within your Terraform configuration. If you are using Terraform regularly, this shouldn’t give you any problems.

Edit: Adding a great post from friends over at Spacelift about Terraform Variables.

Provisioners: local-exec and remote-exec

Knowing the difference between the two and when you’d use each is required. I had a couple of questions that referred to remote-exec directly.

Terraform Cloud & Terraform Enterprise

As with most of the exams, Hashicorp want us to know about their premium services that will generate revenue for their business. So spend some time understanding what Terraform Cloud and Terraform Enterprise offer and what the difference between the two is.

The Sentinal service came up on a couple of questions for me too so I’d recommend a quick read on this.

Useful Revision Resources

Honestly, as I’m using Terraform daily, I felt quite comfortable with how it works so I just read through the study guide and exam review and all the documentation linked in them.

This dump of exam questions also gave me some useful practice. I can see some of my actual exam questions on there, so its worth spending some time reading through them and giving them a go!

How To Tackle The Exam

You have 60 minutes to answer 60 questions and you can go back and review / change your answers as much as you like.

The way I tackle these online exams is by going through and selecting an answer for every question quite quickly, just relying on gut instinct if I’m not sure about one. I then mark any problem questions with a ‘flag’. This lets me easily identify the problem questions so that I can come back at the end and spend some more time thinking about them.

In this one, I had enough time to re-read and check every question which I would recommend you do if you had time. I corrected 3 questions by doing this!

Good Luck!

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