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Cover image for The practice test for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional
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The practice test for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional

andrewdmay profile image Andrew May Updated on ・3 min read

Last weekend I was working on preparing a talk about AWS certifications (it looks like I will be presenting it at the upcoming AWS Community Day Midwest), and as part of that I was including sample questions for the different certifications.

AWS provides 10 sample questions for each certification, and the ones for the SA Professional certification can be found on the certification page alongside the exam guide.

As I hadn't actually gone through this version of the sample questions before, I decided to treat them like a mini test, and was fairly pleased to get 8 out of 10 right.

In the past AWS did not provide the answers for these sample questions, so you could never be quite sure whether you had them right, but now all of them appear to have the answers and a short explanation (that's the really useful bit for questions you get wrong).

After that positive result, I decided to dive in and take the official practice test that you can register for at http://aws.training and going into the certification sub-portal. The sample tests contain 20 questions and normally cost $20, but I had a coupon for a free practice test from a previous certification I'd taken.

The practice test gives you an hour to answer 20 questions, so 3 minutes for each. The full test lasts for 3 hours, and apparently contains 75-80 questions, so you have less time per question. I've heard that a lot of people struggle with time on the test, so I tried to go through the questions quickly only pausing when I was unsure.

In the end I finished the 20 questions in about 35 minutes, and I felt pretty good about most of my answers and was surprised that some of the questions were relatively straightforward (of course what seems straightforward mostly had to do with which services I've been using for the last 5 years).

Unfortunately my confidence was somewhat misplaced as when I got the results I had only 65% correct (13/20). I had some doubts about a few questions (and I looked up a few things afterwards and knew where I'd gone wrong in those cases), but I think I was confident in answers to more than 13 of the questions.

Here's the breakdown that they sent me:

Topic Level Scoring:
1.0  Design for Organizational Complexity: 50%
2.0  Design for New Solutions: 40%
3.0  Migration Planning: 75%
4.0  Cost Control: 50%
5.0  Continuous Improvement for Existing Solutions: 85%

Some of those (particularly Design for New Solutions) are a little painful.

Because it isn't obvious which questions I got wrong and why, that makes it harder to know where to focus my preparation. I think the reality is that I've got a lot of studying still to do if I want to go into the exam with a high chance of passing (as it currently stands I think I've got about 50/50 odds).

I will probably look into other sets of practice questions (even though I'm not convinced that all of them are very realistic) as it may be a good way to expose gaps in my knowledge for services that are likely to be on the test.

Hopefully the next post in the series will be to say how I passed the test. The testing centers are starting to re-open in Ohio, and while I'm in no rush to take the test, the virtual tests seem to have been a nightmare for some people (stories of people waiting hours for the proctor to start the test, and having to purge your room of extra monitors, paper etc.)


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Andrew May

@andrewdmay

I used to be a developer, but these days I spend most of my time building and architecting Cloud Infrastructure.

Leading EDJE

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Discussion

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When I took the pro I read a lot of our white papers and lot of building. A technique I did was to write down bullets of keywords, then strike out the answers that didn't fit. Next I look for the qualifier "most cost effective" or "least downtime", then strike out or rank your answers according to that. That'll get you down to 2-3 answers where the answer is nuanced.

Best of luck and looking forward to your success!!!

 

I took the practice test yesterday and receive similar percentages. I've gone through various materials, including whitepapers and Acloudguru. Good luck on the actual test, I am reviewing the whitepapers again, and I will go through Acloudguru material again. If anyone has any specifics whitepapers to recommend or any books available on Kindle, I think that would be helpful!

 

Ooh. How could I miss that. Of course - it all makes sense.
And you are completely right. The professional - people are saying that the time you need to read the questions is incredibly tight. Also the answers are all "correct" - you need to give the "most" correct answer - isn't that right?

I do have a practitioner myself and are currently reading up on the SA. Although I think - using it it practice is the most giving way to really learn the concepts of AWS.

 

Just curious - did you take the practitioner certification first, or are you heading direct into the SA? 🤔

 

Hi Lars - this is the "AWS Certified Solution Architect - Professional" rather than the "AWS Certified Solution Architect - Associate" certification (such long-winded names). I've had the associate certification for nearly 3 years and it was about to expire, so rather than renewing the associate certification I wanted to get the professional certification.

At the time I originally got my associate certification the practitioner certification didn't yet exist (although I did take it later just to see what it was like for other people at our company). If you're really new to AWS and haven't had much hands on experience there can be some value in the practitioner certification, but it's certainly not necessary before taking any of the associate certifications.

 

The SA is "a good to have" an easy to get. I don't think it took me more than 20 minutes to complete.