Written by Lena Müller
Originally published April 19th 2021
A blog post about preparations to successfully pass the basic exam of AWS.
I had no prior knowledge of the Amazon Web Services and it took me about two months of preparation, which I feel is a fair amount of time to prepare.
The exam itself is not necessarily difficult. It consists of 65 multiple choice questions that you have to answer within 90 minutes. So you have more than enough time to read through each question thoroughly and review it all again at the end.
However, you should not underestimate the amount of knowledge you have to acquire if you have never worked with AWS before.
For preparation, I used Youtube, Whizlabs, and Digital Cloud Training. Whizlabs and Digital Cloud Training are websites that help you prepare by providing sample exams, etc.
Whizlabs offers one practice exam plus 40 questions & 2 hands-on labs for free, an exam bundle with 8 tests plus 320 questions & 21 labs for 25,95€, and a video bundle with unlimited availability of 112 videos plus 21 labs again for 25,95€.
Digital Cloud Training offers an Instructor-led video course (12+ hours of video training, hands-on practice lab exercises, exam-cram lectures, 120 quiz questions, a 20-day study plan), a practice exam-course (500 questions, 6 sets of practice exams with 65 questions each, online exam simulator, explanations for each answer, and deep dive reference links) and the training package (all the previously listed benefits, eBook with training notes).
The platform Digital Cloud Training helped me personally the most. So why do I prefer Digital Cloud Training over Youtube and Whizlabs?
In my experience, you don't get all the information on Youtube, or at least not the depth you need for the exam. However, you can use Youtube as an excellent introduction to the topic and look at other people's testimonials, which can be very helpful.
I used the video "AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Training 2020 - Full Course" to make notes.
With the help of this video you can also create an AWS account, which allows you to try out AWS's free services for yourself. You can check out the Budget & Cost Explorer tool for example, or spin up an EC2 instance for free. This helps to gain some hands-on experience and also to get an overview of how the Account Console is organized, which can again help you understand everything about AWS a little better.
Whizlabs presents the exams very nicely, and the site and the processing of the exams are very user-friendly. You can check which questions you have not been able to answer in past mock exams, which can help further preparation. In my opinion, there are too many questions that are too difficult and won't get asked in the actual exam and probably intimidate rather than encourage someone new to this field.
With the Digital Cloud Training, on the other hand, the site itself is not quite as user-friendly as Whizlabs, but the questions are on the same level as the real exam. I knew three or four of the questions from the Digital Cloud Training, and they even appeared in my real exam. Besides the various sample exams, there are also instructional videos and a two-monthly preparation program on this site. Since I started using the platform only about two weeks before my exam, I sadly can't say anything about it. But through my experience with the mock exams and the instructional videos, I think that this is probably the easiest way of preparation because you do not have to structure everything yourself, but you are guided through the preparation time.
And on an important side note: Please don't be afraid of the exam. The mock exams really show where you are at with your learning progress. Even, if it doesn't work out, it is totally fine not to pass the first time. If you don't pass, you can just try it again, that's it. There is no need to worry and pressure yourself before the test, and there is also no need to feel bad if you don't pass it the first time. - Always keep that in mind!
The exam itself is structured in the same way as the mock exams; it consists of 65 multiple-choice questions that have to be answered in 1.5 hours. You can jump back and forth between the questions and mark them, which can be helpful if you're unsure and want to look over them again in the end. If you have any questions during the exam, there's a chat window open the entire time with an Amazon employee who helps you with those questions and also makes sure you don't cheat.
Scheduling the Exam
It is helpful to use the same computer which you want to use for the actual exam, for that, because there's the possibility to test your microphone, internet speed and webcam within the scheduling process to make sure it meets the requirements
Scheduling an exam costs ~$100, which you will need to pay at the end of your scheduling process
The Youtube video "How to take AWS Exam from home", will help you through the scheduling process. Tip: you can skip to minute 1:12, to save some time.
It also helps with:
- Understanding the AWS test policies
- How to do the exam pre-check
- How to schedule an AWS exam with extra 30 minutes applied
- What steps to follow on the day of exam.
Preparing Yourself & Your Examination Room
- You'll need a room where you're all alone. Especially If there are young children around, please make sure that you schedule a good time when nobody will enter the room during your exam
- A small room with a clean working space is perfect (you have to send pictures and take a video of that space, so the Amazon assistant can confirm you won't cheat)
- Go to the restroom right before the exam because you're obviously not allowed to leave the room
- You'll most likely need your phone to get the exam started, but as soon as the identification process is finished, you should put it out of your reach and make sure it is set on silent
- Have your passport/driver license ready; it's needed for identification reasons
- The only thing on your desk during the exam should be something to drink.
*At minute 2:02 of the video DO NOT go to the column "AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate" but to "AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner"
- then click onto "Schedule with Pearson Vue" and proceed with the video*
It can be beneficial to remember keywords with many topics because sometimes specific terms already reveal the answer. Once you've gone through a few mock exams, you'll notice a few keywords that lead to the same solutions over and over again. Writing these down can be a great help to make the exam a little easier.
For example, when the question asks about "Puppet & Chef", the right answer most likely contains the Service 'AWS OpsWorks'. (So I just kept in mind Puppet/Chef = AWS OpsWorks).
Just keep being careful and attentive by reading the question and all the answers before making your final decision to avoid mistakes.
Good luck, everyone!