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AWS Certification Preparation

dannysteenman profile image Danny Steenman Originally published at on ・4 min read

Before taking an AWS Certification exam you need to know where to start. This article will provide an effective strategy to improve your success rate on the exam. Other practical tips include: how to schedule the AWS Certification exam and request 30 minutes extra to complete it!

Table Of Contents

Essential tips for the AWS Certified exam

Essentially the AWS Certified exam consists mostly of multiple-choice questions (4 or more answers) and occasionally they ask you to supply 2 or more answers. A simple and effective strategy to improve your success rate is to do the following four things:

  1. Read the question thoroughly, look for keywords
  2. Answer the question without looking at the choices yet!
  3. Eliminate the answers that don’t fit your primary thought
  4. In doubt? flag your answer!

1. Read the question thoroughly

This is really the key to success! Read it thoroughly and make sure you understand what is being asked. I will show an example to highlight what is being asked:

“You are working on a mobile gaming application and are building the leaderboard feature to track the top scores across millions of users. Which AWS services are best suited for this use case?”

  • A. Amazon Redshift
  • B. Amazon ElastiCache using Memcached
  • C. Amazon ElastiCache using Redis
  • D. Amazon S3

Answer C. See what I did there? As you can see I emphasized the most important keywords of the question in Bold fonts. Applying this method makes this question way easier to interpret. You now know what is expected in this question which makes it easier to dissect the given choices.

As you know Amazon Redshift and Amazon S3 are not designed for high volumes of small reads and write, typical of a mobile game. Amazon ElastiCache with Redis provides native functions that simplify the development of leaderboards, which is the correct answer! With Memcached, it’s also possible but it is more difficult to sort and rank large datasets. But remember the question? It asked for the best suited AWS Services!

2. Answer the question without looking at the choices yet!

When you read the question, try to use your own knowledge to answer the question before you dive into the multiple choices that AWS is giving you. Block the choices for a brief moment and try to answer it, then look at the choices that are given.

“You are creating an Amazon DynamoDB table that will contain messages for a social chat application. This table will have the following attributes: Username (String), Timestamp (Number), Message (String). Which attribute should you use as the partition key? The sort key?”

  • A. Username, Timestamp
  • B. Username, Message
  • C. Timestamp, Message
  • D. Message, Timestamp

Answer A. The reason you need to answer this yourself first is to avoid confusion. In the exam, they try to provide multiple answers that look alike. As you can see above; answers A and B look pretty similar and can cause you to doubt yourself. This can become very time-consuming if you do this for every question.

3. Eliminate the answers that don’t fit your primary thought

If you’ve applied the previous strategy, at least 50% of the answers can be crossed off. if you’re unsure about the remainder of the answers, try to go with your gut feeling. If that answer comes closest to your primary thought, just go for that!

4. In doubt? flag your answer!

If you’re unsure about the right answer to the question, just flag it and come back at a later stage. You don’t want to waste precious time and be stuck for 10 minutes with the same question. On average you only have 2 minutes per question (130 min / 65 questions).

Register and schedule the exam

To register for an exam, sign in to and click Certification in the top navigation. This will redirect you to Certmetrics. From there you can schedule your exam with either PSI or Pearson VUE as the test delivery provider. The Certmetrics dashboards show all available exams which you can schedule.

Certmetrics elligible AWS exams

Once you pick your exam which you’d like to schedule it will redirect you to the test delivery provider’s scheduling page, where you will complete your exam registration.

Request exam accommodations

This is really important if you’re a non-native English speaker like me. You can request a permanent +30 minutes extra to complete the exam. This applies to all future exam registrations.

ESL +30 is available to non-native English speakers when taking an exam in English. ESL +30 only needs to be requested once and will apply to all future exam registrations at all test delivery vendors. Please select ESL +30 using the dropdown menu below.

At the homepage of Certmetrics you should see the following:

Certmetrics request exam accommodation button

Then select the ESL +30 Minutes from the accommodation drop-down menu. This is a one-time procedure and will apply automatically once you schedule a new exam.

ESL +30 minutes accomodation approved

Need more relevant information?

Please have a look at FAQ sections of AWS:

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Discussion (3)

Editor guide
loujaybee profile image
Lou (🚀 Open Up The Cloud ☁️)

Ah nice, there are some good tips in here that I didn't know. The accommodations feature is really useful, I had no idea about that, definitely will start to recommend it, and I also like the idea of guessing at the answer before reading the choices 🙏

Thanks for sharing, Danny.

Also, I'm now curious to know what your native language is? 😁

dannysteenman profile image
Danny Steenman Author

Yes, this strategy helped me to speed up the answering process. If you have more time left over, you'll be less stressed when you want to double-check the flagged questions.

I'm from the Netherlands and my native language is Dutch :D

davidwornercert profile image
DavidWorner-Cert • Edited

With that in mind, here are some tips for anyone looking for advice about preparing for and taking an AWS certification exam.

  1. Book the exam
  2. Find a study buddy
  3. Learn the theory and do the labs
  4. Don’t expect to see the same questions you studied in the actual exam
  5. Don’t hit submit until you’re sure
  6. Skip around if you need to
  7. Think about the options

Useful AWS exam prep resources

Here are some of the resources you can use in AWS certified solutions architect associate exam prep:

  1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect Official Study Guide Associate Exam
  2. Linux Academy
  3. JustCerts AWS Certified Solutions Architect Practice Test Questions

Best of luck!!!