How to succeed in AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate exam

If you are preparing for a certified AWS Solutions Architect-Associate (AWSSA-A) exam and wondering what you are up against, as a recent AWSSA-A “graduate”, I am happy to share my thoughts about the exam.

About AWSSA-A exam

Whether you are an experienced engineer who use AWS on a day-to-day basis, or you have never used AWS before, taking the AWSSA-A exam is a great way to make sure you know what to do (or not to do) on AWS. Even, it is just to make your resume more appealing and get noticed by employers.

“Who is laughing now?” — The Simpsons

Being a certified AWS solution architect, you are confident to answer all of the following questions:

  • How to disable Source/Destination check during NAT setup for your private subnet’s outbound network?
  • How to use S3 Lifecycle to reduce your storage cost, but still satisfy other needs?
  • Choose server encryption or client encryption for your s3 bucket?
  • Which instance type is the best fit for running in-memory database, Apache Spark or Presto application?
  • and many more, etc.

Feel motivated? Schedule and ace the exam.

Understand exam structure

  • 80 minutes long (110 for extended exam)
  • 60 multiple choice questions (80 for extended exam)
  • Average time spent per question is 1 minute 20 seconds
  • Many questions are required candidates to find the most-effective answers. There is no wrong answer, but you will be asked to choose the best 2 options.
Find more at AWS Blueprint

From my research on internet, people usually pass the exam with a score range from 63% to 67%. Therefore, you should aim for at least 70% of the questions answered correctly.

Prepare for the exam

In my case, since I am familiar with AWS in my current professional role as a data / devops engineer, I only spent 5 nights revising all AWS exam materials. It is crucial to set out a timeline based on your AWS competency, and give yourself enough time to comprehend all the chapters.

Yes, I do!

Below are some high level notes I have gathered and prepared:

  1. Start with acloud.guru. Their videos content are excellent and sufficient to cover the most important sections of the exam.
  2. Explore the popular AWS services’s FAQs: VPC, RDS, EC2, S3 and IAM. More than 15% of the exam questions are actually in the FAQs section.
  3. Read about serverless architecture using API gateway, Lambda and DynamoDB. You do not need to learn the detail, however, you should understand how these services bring flexibility, scalability and cost effective to a cloud application.
  4. Find out the difference and use cases of each EC2 instance types, EBS and instance store, OLAP and OLTP solutions, NoSQL and relational databases.
  5. Enhance your security knowledge by understanding how encryption works on S3, RDS, EBS and their snapshots.
  6. Last but not least, keep revising your AWS knowledge with these perfect study notes before the exam.

On the exam day

  • Be early. Give yourself at least 20 minutes because there are check-in processes at the exam center.
  • Aim for the easy questions first, skip and revisit the complicated ones later at the end.
  • Read questions, and of course, all the options carefully. You are asked to choose the most effective answers, not only the right answer.
  • Be aware of exam timing. Try not to spend more than 2 minutes on a single problem, deal with it later.

That is all I have. Thank you and I wish you best of luck in your AWSSA-A exam.

P.S: Do share your score, as well as your preparation journey, they will be extremely useful for all the candidates.

Security T_____T