Becoming an AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate

After joining Cloudreach, I studied full time for two weeks before sitting my exam and becoming an AWS Certified Solutions Architect. I had never used AWS before apart from hosting this site using S3. This post is about how I studied for that exam and how you can too.

Methods of Madness

The following are my methods of study madness:

Hello, Cloud Gurus

There are many courses out there for getting AWS certifications, I used one from A Cloud Guru. I recommend their courses, Ryan Kroonenburg covers almost everything needed for the exam and does it in an approachable way, even for newcomers. As the exam and AWS are ever evolving, there are a few parts that aren’t cover in as much depth as the current exam expects.

Kroonenburg is a great speaker but you can save yourself some time and listen to him at 1.5 to 2 times the speed comfortably and not miss anything.

Eat, Sleep, Repeat

After finishing the A Cloud Guru course and getting to know AWS, it was time to prep for answering exam style questions. All of the questions are multiple choice or multiple selection. Most of the multiple choice questions feature two obviously wrong answers, an almost correct and the correct answer.

Flash Cards

Flashcards are an easy and quick way of learning small chunks of information, they are perfect for this type of exam. Write the question on one side, the answer on the other and presto. Since we live in a digital age, of course, there are flashcard apps out there. I decided to try AnkiApp as CGP Grey had mentioned using it on Cortex.

AnkiApp is a cross-platform flashcard app and while it doesn't look the best it is very functional. AnkiApp produces nice reports of how well you are doing with your study.

I put any failed practice exam question into a deck. This way I could revisit any questions I had failed previously and get the answers down. I also broke down the majority of relevant AWS FAQ items into another deck.

Just the Tips

  1. It is best to read all the white papers in full but at least skim all of them.
  2. Do as many past papers as possible. I was fortunate enough to be given access to a lot of past papers by a generous person. I was able to get through 3-4 papers and review them before my exam.
  3. Focus on the exam, start practising questions early. Time yourself to stay within the allotted time

Free as in Beer

All the details about AWS are available for free online, Amazon's resources contain everything you need to know. But you can buy online courses which are structured to teach you exactly what is needed, to the level expected by the exam. So, if you can’t afford to pay for access to a course then the slower and free route might be better.

Thanks

I’d like to thank Cloudreach and everyone in the AgileOps teams for their support.

If you're looking to work with Cloud technology (and who isn't involved with it these days) the exam itself is not too expensive and a lot of customers are expecting certifications now. The most important part of the certification is the comprehension of the technology you gain through preparing for it.