How I passed my first AWS exam


I recently passed the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate exam and I want to share my experience and exam preparation  with you. I will make this  as brief as possible.

My background

I am a Network Engineer and my real world experience with AWS is very much limited to VPC and EC2. I have never worked with Databases or Applications. I, however, have very much understanding of  VPC technologies including VPN, Direct Connect, AZ, subnets, routing table etc.

What resources I used to prepare for the exam

I used a number of different resources to prepare for the exam. The best place to start with is the AWS Certification page.  In this page you will find all the necessary details about the exam topics.

  1. CBT nuggets videos by Anthony Sequeira and Bart Castle. The lectures are very informative and well organised. Bart's AWS course is very up-to date.
  2. AWS white papers and FAQ. These documentations can be very tough to digest all in one go. What I have done was reading bit by bit everyday by picking certain topics. For example, learning about "how to set up a VPN" in one day.
  3. Labs using AWS free-tier. You can easily spin up a t2.micro instance free of charge.(Be aware of additional charges such as egress cost)
  4. Just over two years of on the job AWS experience

Key services

  • VPC (VPN, Direct Connect, AZ, Subnets, Routing table etc
  • EC2 (Auto scaling group, load balancers etc)
  • S3 (encryption, life-cycle etc)
  • RDS (HA, cross-region replication)
  • DynamoDB

Other services you need to be familiar with

To be fair, I have a very limited knowledge of the below topics. With Associate level exam you will need to understand their basic functionality.

  • SQS, SNS
  • Lambda, API Gateway
  • CloudWatch, CloudFormation
  • IAM
  • Aurora, Athena, ElastiCache
  • Route 53
  • Kinesis

The exam itself is a classic quiz where you have to pick one or more answers. I have to admit that some questions can be very tricky. For example, you might get questions where more than one answer seems to be correct. Most of the  questions were about the “cost-effective”, “highly available solution”, “less administrative effort”, etc.

Good luck everyone

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Written by
Suresh Vina
Tech enthusiast sharing Networking, Cloud & Automation insights. Join me in a welcoming space to learn & grow with simplicity and practicality.
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