Hello, my name is Piotr Belina. I recently passed three AWS Associate certifications:
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate,
- AWS Certified Developer Associate and
- AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate.
I would like to tell you how I learned to the exam, what has helped me to prepare and what were the exam topics.
Why I passed the certifications
I was using AWS since 2012 for my personal projects. I wanted to organize my AWS knowledge and gain some understanding about services I did not used yet like Lambda. I am also switching from PHP developer position to DevOps.
My preparations to the exams
I was using several sources to learn:
During the walks with my 1-year old son, I was listening to more theoretical lessons. The practical labs, tests and reading I was doing back at home.
A Cloud Guru
I think A Cloud Guru offers great courses preparing to the exams. I took the following ones:
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C02 - This course led by Ryan Kroonenburg is the one I started learning with. I find it very valuable. After following the course and doing the labs I have a good understanding of all key AWS services, especially a big emphasis is put on VPC.
- AWS Certified Developer - Associate 2020 - A lot of contents of the course repeats between Solutions Architect and Developer. I was not planning to pass the Developer exam, but my first thought after seeing the table of contents of the course was why not to try. The extra staff to learn was Cognito, X-Ray, DynamoDB, KMS, Kinesis, Elastic Beanstalk, CodeCommit, CodeDeploy and CodePipeline. The sections about IAM, S3, EC2, VPC, CloudFront, Lambda, API Gateway, RDS, SQS, SNS are the same for both exams.
- AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner 2020 - I took several lessons from this course to fill in the gaps. I have found in practice exams some questions about for example Disaster Recovery, Shared Responsibility Model which were not covered in Solutions Architect course.
- Mastering the AWS Well-Architected Framework - Although the contents of this course is not tested on directly on the exams, I think it is good to have the background knowledge about AWS Well-Architected Framework.
- AWS Certification Preparation Guide - This is a short course but it has a lot of useful informations how to prepare for exams, how to learn, how the exam looks like. Really great tips. I think it is a must.
I took practice exams. I found the Tutorials Dojo questions similar to questions on real exams. There are different models how to take the exam: like real exam, with explanation after each question, topic based etc. I did not finish all the exams but definitely worth practicing.
- Certified Solutions Architect Associate Practice Exams
- Certified Developer Associate Practice Exams
- They also offer nice cheat sheets
I studied several FAQs, although it is not a bedtime lecture.
AWS re:Invent videos
I watched several presentations. They offer nicely packed knowledge.
- AWS re:Invent 2019: Backup-and-restore and disaster-recovery solutions with AWS (STG208)
- AWS re:Invent 2018: Securing Your Virtual Data Center in the Cloud (NET202)
- AWS re:Invent 2018: [REPEAT 1] From One to Many: Evolving VPC Design (ARC309-R1)
- AWS re:Invent 2018: [REPEAT 1] Become an IAM Policy Master in 60 Minutes or Less (SEC316-R1)
- AWS re:Invent 2017: IAM Policy Ninja (SID314)
- AWS re:Invent 2018: Monitor All Your Things: Amazon CloudWatch in Action with BBC (DEV302)
- AWS re:Invent 2019: [REPEAT 1] Getting started with AWS identity (SEC209-R1)
- AWS re:Inforce 2019: Security Best Practices the Well-Architected Way (SDD318)
Official practice exam
I also took the official practice exams. This offers the same experience like on real exam: same UX, the same questions can appear on real exam. So it is definitely worth taking. Also the official sample questions on AWS certification page can repeat, so it is worth knowing them (you can find them here (Download the sample questions)).
AWS certifications exam topics
The exam questions change, I recommend to review discussions forums on A Cloud Guru where people regularly publish information what were the topics on their exams.
Getting the AWS certification is definitely worth it. You will learn a lot and have a lot of pleasure while experimenting with AWS. Good luck and have fun!