Hi, my name is Nicolas, and I was able to pass all the AWS associate level exams in just two weeks (between 9/2/2021 and 25/2/2021), all while maintaining a full time job, and a hectic personal life. I tried to think of many catchy and trendy introductions about AWS Certificates, along with their advantages and whatnot. However, I noticed that the internet is filled with articles that contain excellent explanations. Therefore, in this article, I will omit this part, and cut straight to sharing my personal experience, along with some tips and tricks to better prepare for your associate level exams, and hopefully pass them with the right effort.
The professional experience that I obtained in the past years played a major role in decreasing the complexity of understanding the exam material, and the time required to prepare for each exam. As a matter of fact, I have around 6 years of experience in providing DevOps Solutions, Cloud Infrastructure Solutions, and Software Architecture using the Microservices approach.
Over the course of 2 weeks, I managed to prepare and pass all three AWS Associate level Certificates:
- AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate (SOA)
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate (SAA)
- AWS Certified Developer - Associate (DVA)
This was the first exam I took. Needless to say, I was a little bit nervous, and did not know what to expect. I bought two courses from Udemy: AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate 2022 [SOA-C02] and the corresponding practice exams. Not knowing how to prepare, I started by watching every episode(On a speed of x1.75). Surprisingly, I enjoyed it very much. Even though I am quite experienced in most of the course's content (i.e., VPC, EC2, ASG, S3, RDS, etc), I learned a lot, due to its fun and interactive approach, which not only focuses on theories and information, but also on interesting hands on labs that further strengthen the topic being studied.
I finished the course in about 5 hours, and directly solved the practice test associated with the course. I was able to pass it easily, thus boosting my confidence. Afterwards, I solved two other test, which I also passed easily. That's when I decided that I was ready to take on the actual exam. I registered through the AWS Training Portal, and passed it with a score of 926 / 1000.
After finishing the first exam, I became hesitant as to whether I should stop here or continue with the certificates. Before deciding, I went on and purchased another Udemy course along with its practice exams.
Honestly, I felt lazy, especially after learning that the course is much longer and contains a lot of information than the AWS SysOps exam. In addition, the content was quite similar to the previous one. However, the course contains a wonderful feature (I really appreciated it): The exam cram. At the end of every section, there exists one or two videos usually containing all the important information that must be kept in mind for the exam. Therefore, I skipped the whole content and only focused on the exam crams, which I finished in less than two hours. Finally, I solved 3 exams, which I was able to pass easily, before passing the actual exam on February 19th with a score of 825 / 1000.
Even though my score was relatively low, I can easily say that this exam was not more difficult than the AWS SysOps Associate exam.
Having passed two exams in 10 days, I was determined to prepare and achieve the third and final associate level AWS certificate. Therefore, again, I purchased another Udemy course along with its practice exams.
Unfortunately, The AWS Certified Developer course content is quite different than the other two. As a matter of fact, this course focuses a lot on AWS Services related to development (i.e., Amazon DynamoDB, AWS SQS, AWS Cognito, etc). Evidently, I was not experienced with such services. I skimmed through the exam crams quickly, and directly jumped into solving the practice exams, which I successfully failed miserably :).
It was then when I noticed that unless I familiarize myself very well with these AWS services, I will never be able to pass the exam. Therefore, I researched and read a lot about every AWS service that I felt uncomfortable with, and I reviewed the explanation of every question that I failed to answer correctly. After around 12 hours of preparation, I felt ready for the exam, which I took and passed with a score of 987 / 1000.
In brief, the AWS exams are not easy, but also not impossible. It is important to understand very well the concepts and use cases of every service, since most of the exam questions are scenario based. Below is a set of tips to consider when preparing for AWS exams:
Have a thorough understanding, and preferably hands on experience on every AWS service covered.
Create an AWS account and play around with the AWS free tier. The AWS console is very amusing and easy to navigate.
Research the basic concepts behind the AWS services. For instance, if you're learning about AWS ELBs, a good approach would be to understand what load balancers are, how they operate, and why we need them. This will give you a great insight on why AWS services are built and are operated and used.
Preferably, make sure to have a few years of professional experience in using AWS.
There are plenty of tailored online courses (and cheap). I highly recommend purchasing such courses, in addition to doing your own research.
Solve practice exams as much as possible. Solving these exams will give you more insight on the type of questions asked, and will always teach you information that you might have missed from your exam preparations.
Best of luck!