Yesterday I took the AWS Solutions Architect Associate and passed it which means I’m now certified. I started studying for this exam around the August time frame. I had wanted to get some exposure to public cloud to broaden my skill set and AWS was the natural one to go after first considering their dominant position on the market. My goal is to do the networking specialty in order to know all of the networking products inside of AWS. I also have a project I’m working on now in AWS which helps with both motivation, knowledge and hands-on experience.
So, what was the exam like?
I don’t know if it was pure shock at first but I felt very uneasy in the beginning of the exam. The questions I got felt very different to the material and questions I had based my studies on. After a while I felt a bit better but it was still a tough exam for me. I had to really think through all of my answers and only a couple of questions, mostly the ones on networking, I felt confident answering immediately. The exam did feel balanced though covering a broad range of topics and I was happy to see that there didn’t seem to be a lot of focus on service limits, and memorizing different timeout values etc.
Useful info about the exam
It’s a pretty standard setup compared to Pearson Vue. I didn’t have to sign anything or take a photo when registering. Showing my ID was enough. The exam consisted of 65 questions that had to be answered in 130 minutes. That was plenty of time. You can move forward and backwards among the questions, which is different compared to a Cisco exam. I had answered everything when I had 60 minutes to go and used 30 minutes to review all of my answers again. I did end up changing 3 or 4 answers. The exam interface was good and it was clear what was being asked and how many answers I needed to provide. The pass/fail result was immediate when you finished the test. There was no printout with your score and it takes up to 5 business days to get the official score in your certification account.
How did I study?
I’ve heard of people passing this exam by just studying for a couple of weeks or so. That’s not the approach I took. First, I didn’t have enough experience with AWS to just make a quick attempt. Secondly, when I study for a certification, the end goal is to go beyond and above needed, to gain real knowledge that can be used in my job, not to pass the test as quickly as possible. Which is why I took the long road. Here is what I did:
I bought the AWS SA Associate course from Acloudguru. The course consists of videos and labs where you follow along Ryan Kroonenburg. The material is good and you can’t beat them on price. This material is perfect for giving you the overview of all the services but also getting hands-on with the services.
Signed up for a AWS free tier account. You get free tier access for a year and can use for example T2 micro instances to run labs. Make sure to get some hands-on so you don’t become a paper product.
I went through the AWS SA Associate official study guide through my Safari Books access. This book was OK. It’s a bit deeper than acloudguru. The best thing about it is the practice questions that you get for each chapter.
Through my Safari Books account I also had access to several Live Lessons. I went through two courses by Richard Jones that were good. They are a bit deeper than Acloudguru and also had some advice on building performant designs etc.
I also got a set of practice questions from Jon Bonso, available on Udemy. These were pretty good. The nice part is the explanations why something is correct or incorrect.
There are also a lot of good videos from ReInvent which I went through as well.
Don’t forget to glance through the FAQs for the most important AWS services as they contain some really good information.
I kept all my notes in OneNote and used them for reviewing before the exam. List of materials used:
Thanks for reading and good luck with your studies!