How about taking 2 times AWS Solutions Architect exam for free? In this post entry, I will share my experience while taking the AWS Solutions Architect Professional exam; I will answer few Q&A some of my colleages have asked me and my study notes I collected throughout my preparation.
Face a 180 minutes (75 questions) exam, each one with a lenght of a mini Business case seems really daunting, but it's the price we need to pay in order to achieve this certification. As there are so many AWS SAP guidelines, I will try to summarize it through the following questions:
- Is it really that difficult exam as some people claim?
I found the following quote on this reddit blog entry: https://www.reddit.com/r/aws/comments/7q1f4z/is_the_solutions_architect_professional_cert_test/ and I can totally relate to it:
The professional is more like 4 sort of right answers, one is obviously wrong if you read more carefully. But 2 still are technically correct. And then you have to make a judgement call based on how the question is worded
- How come did you take it 2 times for free?
It was definitely not the intended scenario, but one I had to deal once I accept the risk of taking online proctoring exams. As one of the many benefits of being an AWS Community builder (You can read more about it here: https://aws.amazon.com/developer/community/community-builders/ ) we're granted a voucher to take any AWS exam for free through Pearson Vue Online Proctoring exam. Keep this in mind as it'd make the difference on why I took the exam twice.
During the 1st attempt of the exam, everything was going as expected and I was, as you may expect, battling the best I could to complete all the questions during the 180 + 30 minutes (ESL benefit) time span. Due to unkown reasons, my DNS simply stopped working and I lost my connection to the proctoring exam. I had faced this before, so tried to remain calm, verify DNS was fully recovered and request to resume my exam. Little did I know that I would never be able to access that exam again. While waiting for the proctor to resume my exam, they mentioned that looking outside the screen was not permitted and may be interpreted as an act of cheating and exam will be terminated. I simply replied with a "Understood" and after that, the session just hang and I found myself after a few second seeing an error message: The test has been closed, please contact Pearson Vue for support (A link was detailed here)
That was quite a new experience to me and my first reaction, was obviously get nervous on what went wrong that time. I quickly searched Pearson Vue Support Center (https://home.pearsonvue.com/Test-takers/Customer-service.aspx) and start a chat with a Support team member. Here it comes my 1st recommendation: Always keep your address information up-to-date in your AWS Training account (https://www.aws.training/Certification). I'm currently based in Tokyo, but my account was created in Perú, so I spent several minutes trying to explain the scenario to the Support Team member and check my information. Always keep the following to share with them:
- Start/end time of the exam
- Exam Name
- Exam registration Code
- AWS Pearson Vue ID
After almost 30 minutes, the support team informed that the exam had been cancelled and I may need to raise a ticket to request exam re-schedule. I remembered that I had already solved 50/75 questions and had 1 hour left to complete the rest.
My second question was, what about the voucher? Did I lose it or can I re-use it? Pearson Vue support team couldn't give a clear response so I contacted AWS directly. How? throught this link: https://support.aws.amazon.com/#/contacts/aws-training I explained what happened and after 24 hours after submitting it, AWS team replied that a new voucher will be granted and I will be able to take the exam for free.
Finally, after 3 days, Pearson Vue Support team replied me with the ticket resolution: New voucher generated and I was able to book the exam again. Truly an akward experience I don't recommend anyone but it allowed me to understand how to handle this kind of scenarios.
- What about your preparation? What resources did you use?
Preparation will vary between each test takers as we're involved in AWS ecosystem in different ways. Generally speaking, the following resources should give you both theory and hands-on experience to pass the exam:
- Udemy - https://www.udemy.com/course/aws-solutions-architect-professional/
- Tutorials Dojo - https://portal.tutorialsdojo.com/
- AWS SA Professional Training - https://cloudacademy.com/
- AWS Certified SAP Hands on - https://digitalcloud.training/
- AWS Exam Readiness SAP - https://aws.amazon.com/certification/certified-solutions-architect-professional/
- AWS WhitePapers - https://aws.amazon.com/whitepapers/
- AWS Free practice questions - https://explore.skillbuilder.aws/
Having all these knowledge sources, I created the following Notes repository. It does not have all domains and AWS services as some of them I use on daily basis, so I skipped taking notes and just practice with them
I would recommend to go through a proper preparation and use this github repository to quickly check any key AWS service before taking the exam.
- Is the preparation and time/money invested to get the certification worth the effort?
Honestly, it depends. If you're planning to make a career change to Cloud Computing and AWS Services is a key element in the desired position, it will definitely give you an edge over other candidates. On the other hand, if you have no short-term intentions to apply this knowledge in your work or academic research, having such certification may not be the right option for you.
Overall AWS Solutions Architect Professional exam is a personal achievement and a motivation to keep learning and sharing knowledge on AWS services