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How to pass the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam - complete guide

This complete guide will provide all the information needed to prepare yourself to effectively pass the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam in one time!

Getting started in the Cloud might be overwhelming at first since AWS is boasting over 200 services (growing every year)! Currently, there is a lot of information on the web about AWS like white papers, courses, books, and videos. But if you're a beginner that might be overwhelming and can cause procrastination.

To solve that problem I've created this complete AWS Cloud Practitioner exam guide. Based on my experience I've curated the content for you so you can focus on studying and passing the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam!

Here is what you'll find in this AWS Cloud Practitioner exam complete guide :


This is an entry-level exam that is intended for people who want to demonstrate a general understanding of the AWS Cloud. You’re not required to understand deep level knowledge on specific services. That is more required for the AWS Solutions Architect exam. To be successful, AWS recommends that you understand:

– The AWS Cloud and its basic global infrastructure – AWS Cloud architectural principles – The AWS Cloud value proposition – Key AWS services along with their common use cases (for example, highly available web applications or data analysis) – The basic security and compliance practices relating to the AWS platform and the shared security model – AWS billing, account management, and pricing models Documentation and technical assistance resources – Basic characteristics for deploying and operating in the AWS Cloud

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification page

An important note to mention is that when you want to follow up on this guide and start learning, create a free AWS account first. AWS offers a free tier to get familiar with its services, so you can practice and experiment with the exercises and pieces of training that are provided in this guide.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam overview

Some practical information that is interesting to know when you plan to schedule the exam:

  • The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam consists of 65 multiple-choice, multiple-answer questions.
  • You have 90 minutes to complete the exam.
  • It costs $100,-
  • The minimum passing score for this exam is 700 points
  • The exam is available in English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese.

As explained in the official AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam guide. It covers the following topics including their weighted percentage:

AWS Cloud Practitioner exam content outline domains

Domain 1: Cloud Concepts - 26%

1.1 Define the AWS Cloud and its value proposition 1.2 Identify aspects of AWS Cloud economics 1.3 List the different cloud architecture design principles

(CLF-C01) Exam Guide

The first domain requires you to understand what the cloud is, what technologies it’s built on, what kinds of cost savings and operational advantages it can bring you, and how cloud-based applications work differently than traditional hosted ones.

Domain 2: Security - 25%

2.1 Define the AWS shared responsibility model 2.2 Define AWS Cloud security and compliance concepts 2.3 Identify AWS access management capabilities 2.4 Identify resources for security support

(CLF-C01) Exam Guide

The second domain requires you to understand how AWS itself organizes its hardware, networking, and security infrastructure. The important thing to know is how the responsibility is divided between the customer and AWS when using AWS services. And with that responsibility, you need to ensure proper security and compliance.

Domain 3: Technology - 33%

3.1 Define methods of deploying and operating in the AWS Cloud 3.2 Define the AWS global infrastructure 3.3 Identify the core AWS services 3.4 Identify resources for technology support

(CLF-C01) Exam Guide

In the third domain, you need to understand the key tools that enable you to configure and monitor your AWS resources. Although each AWS service has its own unique aspects when it comes to configuration, AWS offers two common tools (AWS Management Console & AWS Command Line Interface (CLI)) to interact with all of them.

Important to know is how AWS provides layers of support to help customers on the platform and what kinds of AWS support is available and how to find them.

Domain 4: Billing and Pricing - 16%

4.1 Compare and contrast the various pricing models for AWS 4.2 Recognize the various account structures in relation to AWS billing and pricing 4.3 Identify resources available for billing support

(CLF-C01) Exam Guide

In the last domain, you need to know what the Cloud is going to cost you. Because cloud services are scalable, there’s virtually no limit to how much you can purchase, or to how much it can cost you. If something isn’t going according to plan, you’ll want to know what it is and how to pull its plug as soon as possible.

How to prepare for the exam?

Moving on to the preparation, I’ve written some technical notes which highlight important details that are worth remembering. Next to that, I’ll be sharing five practice questions that give a good indication of what to expect on the real exam. At last, I’ll be sharing my AWS Cloud practitioner learning material list which contains a curated collection of high-quality content to help you study efficiently.

I’ve broken up this list for two types of learners, one is the reader and the other is the video type learner. For the reader type of learner, I’ve curated the best books which are worth studying. For the video type learner, I’ve curated content with the best pieces of video training.

Technical Preparation notes

For each domain that passes the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam, I’ll be sharing a couple of notes that are worth remembering. You can use these to create flashcards or copy them to your own notepad so you can revisit them at a later stage. I’ll be adding links to the original documentation as well so you can dive deeper at your own pace.

Domain 1: Cloud Concepts

There are 3 types of Cloud platforms: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Cloud platform models

Scalability is when an application or service automatically grows in capacity to meet demand e.g. with health checks or performance metrics. Elasticity will automatically add or remove resources to meet changing user demands.

The Well-ArchitectedFramework is a set of principles that AWS recommends as a way of evaluating the pros and cons of designing and building systems on AWS.

Domain 2: Security

AWS Shared Responsibility Model is the shared responsibility between AWS and the customer.

AWS Shared Responsibility Model

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) helps you to securely control access to AWS resources.

AWS Trusted Advisor is a tool that provides you real-time guidance to help you provision your resources following AWS best practices. You should also know the different AWS support plans.

Domain 3: Technology

Try to get a basic understanding of the following AWS services:

Domain 4: Billing and pricing

You should know about EC2 pricing models like spot and reserved instances. Get familiar with the AWS Pricing Calculator to estimate costs for AWS services. Learn what the AWS Total Cost of Ownership Calculator does and learn how to monitor AWS costs using Cost explorer.

Practice exam questions

The following practice exam questions for the AWS Cloud Practitioner course will give you a good idea of what to expect on the real exam. I’d suggest you not scroll down all the way, otherwise, you would see the answer 😉.

Practice question #1

Which scenarios would be a good use case for AWS Organizations? (Select 2 answers.)

  • A. A single company with multiple AWS accounts that wants a single place to administrate everything
  • B. An organization that provides AWS access to large teams of its developers and admins
  • C. A company that’s integrated some operations with an upstream vendor
  • D. A company with one department running its production system on an AWS Account

Answer: A, C. The value of AWS Organizations is in integrating the administration of multiple accounts from one central place.

Practice question #2

What is an IAM role?

  • A. A set of permissions allowing access to specified AWS resources
  • B. A set of IAM users given permission to access specified AWS resources
  • C. Permissions granted a trusted entity over specified AWS resources
  • D. Permissions granted an IAM user over specified AWS resources

Answer: C. An IAM role is meant to be assigned to a trusted entity like another AWS service or federated identity.

Practice question #3

When you deploy a new EC2 instance, it will automatically launch with the following preselected value?

  • A. VPC
  • B. Subnet
  • C. Availability Zone (AZ)
  • D. Region

Answer: D. EC2 instances will automatically launch into the Region you currently have selected (default choice). The other values can be manually selected.

Practice question #4

For which scenario is it best to create a CloudWatch alarm to send a notification?

  • A. A metric that doesn’t change for hours
  • B. Termination of an EC2 instance
  • C. The presence of a warning in a web server log
  • D. A metric that exceeds a specified threshold

Answer: D. A CloudWatch alarm monitors a metric and triggers when that metric exceeds a specified threshold. It will not trigger if the metric doesn’t change. The Termination of an EC2 instance is an event on which it's not possible to trigger a CloudWatch alarm.

Practice question #5

Your budget-conscious organization has a 5 TB database file it needs to retain off-site for at least 5 years. In the event the organization needs to access the database, it must be accessible within 8 hours. Which cloud storage option should you recommend, and why? (Select 2 answers.)

  • A. S3 has the most durable storage.
  • B. S3.
  • C. S3 Glacier.
  • D. Glacier is the most cost-effective.
  • E. S3 has the fastest retrieval times.

Answer: C, D. Both S3 and Glacier is designed for durable, long-term storage and offer the same level of durability. Data stored in Glacier can be reliably retrieved within eight hours using the Expedited or Standard retrieval options. But as it states in the question, it's about a "budget-conscious organization" so Glacier is the more cost-effective solution.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Study material

Everybody has their own preferred way of learning. One likes to watch videos while the other prefers reading. So I’ve divided these sections into two types of study material; video and reading material.

Reading material

For reading enthusiasts, I definitely recommend the official AWS Cloud Practitioner study guide: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Study Guide: CLF-C01 Exam.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner - Study Guide

Every topic in the exam is covered in this book and explained thoroughly for beginners. Especially useful are the hands-on exercises combined with the hundreds of practice questions. The hands-on exercises give you a good understanding of how the AWS console works in combination with its services. The practice questions in the book are similar to what you can expect at the real exam, so it’s wise to finish the questions in the book.

If you feel that you’ve prepared well for the exam but want to simulate the exam experience, the following book will fill that void: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Practice Tests 2021.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner practice tests 2021

The book contains 6 practice exams with 65 questions each (390 questions in total) that are formatted similarly to the real exam and covering all 4 domains. I would recommend reviewing these practice questions until you’re confident in all areas, try to aim for at least a score of 80%. Tip: If you fail these test exams I would suggest writing down what went wrong and try to find more information about that topic or service until you understand it 100%.

Video material

For people that rather learn through video courses instead of reading books, check out this completely free AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Training 2020 – Full Course

This video contains everything a beginner should know to become familiar with AWS and its services for the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam. This training is approximately 4 hours, so I’d suggest viewing it in 4 sittings of an hour (take notes) to make it easier to memorize the new concepts.

Online practice exam tests

On the official AWS Certified Cloud practitioner page from Amazon, you’ll find the following sample questions document. It contains 10 questions that give a good estimate of what to expect on the real exam. However, if you don’t find 10 questions enough, I can recommend the Whizlabs AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner practice tests.

Whizlabs AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner practice tests

it contains 3 full-length mock exams (65 questions each) at a total of 195 questions. What makes this so unique is that upon answering the questions you get feedback in the form of an exhaustive explanation. So if you made a mistake, for example, they will explain in detail why the answer is not right and what makes the valid answer the good one.

You are now ready to pass the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam

You are now prepared! To summarize what you've done with the help of this guide:

  • You created a free tier AWS account to get familiar with the AWS console and test some of its services.
  • You verified the exam overview including the blueprint to know what domains are being handled.
  • You checked my technical preparation notes which highlight the most important AWS Services you should definitely know for the exam.
  • You checked the example practice questions
  • You've read or watched the content I've referenced in the learning material section.

AWS Cloud Practitioner exam – FAQ

Is the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam easy?

The AWS Cloud Practitioner exam covers the initial foundation of the AWS Cloud. People with a technical background have the advantage over non-technical people, likewise, this guide should fulfill the requirements of both groups.

If you feel that it's too easy, I consider doing the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam. I've written a complete preparation guide for it.

How long does it take to prepare for the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification?

This depends heavily on your learning style and your technical background. If you go down the book path it can take a little longer (depending on the reading speed) than the video course.

A total of 10-15 hours of study should be sufficient if you include doing the practice exams. This should give you the confidence to pass the exam.

Is the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification worth it?

The AWS Cloud Practitioner certification (CLF-C01) shows that you know how to define and implement the core concepts and practices of AWS Cloud into your organization’s infrastructure. In addition, it helps to promote your career with this certification.

How do I schedule the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam?

I made another article that helps with scheduling AWS exams and provides even more tips to make an AWS exam easier 👇

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