Passing the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Exam: A Milestone Achieved

Preparing for a certification is quite the experience, let me tell you. You think you've got all the knowledge in the world until you take those practice tests and realize, "Hmmm, it's gonna take some serious work."

But guess what? I passed the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam yesterday, and let me tell you, it was amazing! Check out my fancy certificate:

AWS certified solutions architect associate certificate
AWS certified solutions architect associate certificate

Now, let me give you the real talk. The Solutions Architect exam is no joke. You need to know your stuff when it comes to a whole bunch of AWS services. If you've got a solid background in systems design, then it might be easier for you. But if you don't, don't worry - it just means you'll need to put in a little extra time to understand different cloud architectures and why you'd want to use certain services.

For instance, if you already understand the differences between SQL and NoSQL databases, how partitions work, what shards are, etc., then you can just build on that knowledge and understand when and why you'd want to use AWS RDS or DynamoDB.

Now, if you're just starting out, take a look at what's required to get this certification. Here are a few important points to keep in mind:

  • You need hands-on experience using compute, networking, storage, and database AWS services.

  • You need hands-on experience with AWS deployment and management services.

  • You need to be able to identify which AWS services will meet a given technical requirement.

  • You need to understand network technologies as they relate to AWS.

  • You need to understand the security features and tools that AWS provides and how they compare to traditional services.

I've been using AWS services for quite some time now and I even went through the cloud architectures of companies that use AWS for their cloud applications.

Now, I started prepping for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam just a week back and spent around 25 hours studying. If you're new to AWS, I'd say you shouldn't spend more than 80 hours prepping. Here's my learning path:

  • First, I went through the documentation of almost all the services. Trust me, it's really well-written. For example, VPC can be a real head-scratcher, but the documentation explains it really well. Plus, I did lots of hands-on exercises by following the documentation. I ran into a lot of roadblocks and even broke and fixed a few things, which really helped me solidify my understanding.

  • Next, I read whitepapers! It doesn't matter if they'll help you with the certification or not, they'll definitely make you a better engineer. Check out my blog on the discovery disaster whitepaper for example. These are general guidelines that are universally applicable, so read as many whitepapers as you can.

  • I also checked out the tutorialsdojo cheatsheet.

  • I read the FAQs.

  • I took Jon Bonoso's practice tests on Udemy. The questions are really good and will test your understanding of the services. Don't get discouraged if you don't get good marks. Just believe in the process and keep grinding. Review the answers of each question and take notes. I found the actual exam to be tougher than these tests, but I still loved 'em.

  • Oh, and there's a good chance that you'll find multiple answers that seem correct. Trust me, most of the questions in the exam are like that. So use the "process of elimination". It'll help you out a lot.

Once you're prepped and ready to go, head over to this website to schedule your exam. You'll need an Amazon account. I just wish we could take these certifications from the comfort of our own homes, but for now, you'll need to go to a test center.

So, what am I gonna do next? Well, I'm planning to increase my knowledge even further and take a few specialty certifications. But I'm not sure which ones yet. I also plan to browse through Microsoft Azure and GCP just to get the hang of their cloud services.

I hope my experience helps you on your journey of learning and getting certified with AWS. And if you wanna read more about my AWS notes, check 'em out here.

Posted in AWS