AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam & prep tips

I’ve just passed AWS Solution Architect Associate exam. I’ve managed to get 924/1000. That fine score is the result of fear I had before the exam so I had to deep dive into everything instead of just being relaxed and skip some topics.

What caused my fear?

After spending few months on Acloud.guru (ACG) and Linux Academy (LA) videos and labs I’ve checked the official AWS Certification web site and I’ve realized that they’ve changed the exam for 2019 in a way that Well-Architected Framework is now a centerpiece of it. Well-A-F… WTF? Ok, I’ve heard about it, read about it, I even tried the tool but I never actually spend more than 5 minutes on it because I like pure tech. Spare me the marketing … So, I decided to go again and in the last couple of days before the exam I’ve read everything about it. ACG and LA are upgrading their courses and Well-A-F will be covered. And, guess what – not a single question related to Well-A-F showed-up in the exam. I strongly recommend ACG course on Well-A-F by @marknca https://bit.ly/2Q4kxD8

I’ve also realized that AWS doesn’t introduce questions for topics with less than 6 months of GA so I checked everything introduced at last re:Invent because it is July and it is just over 6 months after it. It was a good decision because questions related to Dynamo DB on-demand capacity showed up.

Trust no-one. Read AWS FAQs. I’ve walked through >1000 questions provided by Sybex Study Guide and Practice tests and there are many errors in it. For example they have many questions related to S3 static webhosting URLs saying that this format is fine:

<bucket-name>.s3-website-<AWS-region>.amazonaws.com

and this one is not:

<bucket-name>.s3-website.<AWS-region>.amazonaws.com

which is false. Check this https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/dev/WebsiteHosting.html

Still, I found Practice tests to be the best tool to pass the exam. Whenever I made a wrong answer I punished myself by reading an entire FAQ related to the topic (and some are freaking long).

Best learning Videos award goes to ACG. Ryan is an excellent host. ACG labs are cool but sometimes are real mess. Especially those that include Cloud Front and you need to wait for things to propagate. Also, sometimes they keep resources between sessions and you can’t just jump into it. You need to go back and check what was in that Role that they created 5 lessons ago. I still find ACG courses to be funny and lifting you up whenever you get tired – I found myself waking up and saying to myself – Hellooo Cloud Gurus …

Linux Academy courses provide you with more details and more structured knowledge than ACG but I find it slow and boring sometimes. They also have 2019 version of the course with preview lessons. Whenever I wanted to repeat something to get deeper knowledge – I picked LA instead of ACG.

So, here is my recipe to pass the exam:

  1. Acloud.Guru – watch videos and do the labs
  2. after you finish it, do the same with Linux Academy
  3. watch https://aws.training videos
  4. once you finish all videos start with Online tests at ACG and LA and whenever you fail a question go to FAQs
  5. check everything that was not covered in ACG and LA but was introduced after last re:invent
  6. take Sybex study practice tests as they have >1000 questions

And, yes, you should do something in production. That is the best way not to forget things. ACGs presentation from re:inforce says that we forget 75% of what we’ve learned in a day.

ACG at re:inforce 2019

Set the date for the exam and don’t give up or postpone it.

Don’t drink too much coffee or water before the exam because it takes two hours and you are not allowed to leave for the toilet. Lights were very bright at my exam location and screens with questions are all the same (white background) so get ready for two hours of psychological fight. I can’t stand 15 minutes without coffee so this was really heavy.

When you pass the exam – you’ll get this digital badge and access to a webshop shop so you can buy some certified t-shirts.

https://www.certmetrics.com/amazon/public/badge.aspx?i=1&t=c&d=2019-08-02&ci=AWS00987003

Good luck! I’m on professional SA cert path now. If you have any questions feel free to ask me.

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