A couple of weeks ago I sat the Amazon Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam and passed (woohoo!). I wanted to provide a bit of an overview of the exam itself and what I did to prepare.
The exam itself was 60 questions, with 80 minutes to answer all of them. I think i had 25 minutes or so when all was said and done, so it was ample enough time for me. All questions are multiple choice; no simulations were involved though there was some fill in the blank style questions with multiple choice answers. As you go through the exam you have the opportunity to mark each question for review, and can then review any question once you have answered all of them. I’d suggest taking advantage of this; I would mark questions that I was uncertain about, using context from other questions or a bit more time to think about it at the end. I think I marked 6 questions or so, and am pretty sure that I answered most of them correctly after changing my answers during the review period. Regardless, it’s a good practice to mark those that you’re unsure about so you can ponder on them a bit more as time allows at the end, but leaving an answer if you happen to not have that extra time buffer at the end.
As far as the questions themselves, per the testing agreement I cannot disclose any detailed specifics, but can give you some high level thoughts on what was covered. First and foremost, having solid experience with AWS will go a long way on this exam. Strong knowledge of EC2, VPC, S3 and IAM is good to have. The exam blueprint is a good place to start, but you’ll have much more success if you spend time in the console, building environments and playing around. Take the time to get very familiar with all the concepts in the blueprint and that will go a long way. Specifics on pricing for services were not covered in the exam, so you don’t need to know things like how much you’ll get charged per GB on ingress network traffic per VPC.
As far as preparation, along with hands on experience I took the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate 2015 course on Udemy . It’s a great course, starts out a bit slow if you’ve had any experience on AWS, but does a very good job of covering all the concepts you’d need to know in preparation for the exam. Ryan Kroonenburg is the instructor, and he’s got a Professional course that should be coming soon that I’m looking forward to. If you don’t have experience with AWS, get a free account and start playing around, you’ll need it if you take Ryan’s course.
All in all it wasn’t terribly difficult, but I’m glad that I took the time to prepare, as I’ve no doubt it contributed to my success. If you’re taking it, good luck!