08-01-16

AWS Solutions Architect Associate Exam Experience

Solutions Architect-Associate

A little after the fact I know, but on December 21st I went up to Edinburgh (only seat I could get before Christmas) to sit the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam. I have to say the level of rigour of the security checks was far in excess of anything I’ve ever seen before (roll up your pants legs please!) which was slightly amusing in and of itself.

Once I’d been thoroughly screened in reception, I went through into the exam room to sit the test. There were cameras in the room and also a proctor, which again is pretty unusual in my experience. The exam itself is pretty faithful to the blueprint published by Amazon, which you can find here.  It’s a very broad exam as you might expect – AWS has dozens of services you can use at your leisure, and you have to have a reasonable understanding of most (if not all of them).

Topic areas I got grilled on included S3, Glacier, EC2, Elastic Beanstalk, SQS, SNS and VPCs. I wouldn’t say you need a massive in depth knowledge of all of these areas, but there’s no such thing as too much preparation. I used Ryan Kroonenberg’s acloud.guru site, the videos are short and concise and represent good value for money. I bought my course originally through Udemy for £9, and they transferred my purchase over to acloud.guru for free.

There are also numerous AWS white papers, the security paper seems to be the favourite doc of most students I’ve seen. After a few pages of pre-amble, it does a pretty reasonable job of outlining all of the AWS services, what they do and what they’re for.

I’d had about six weeks of experience before sitting the exam, but if you are comfortable with virtualisation concepts, you should be OK. That being said, some AWS services have weird and wacky names that are not immediately memorable, so be prepared for that.

The exam itself is multiple choice. I can’t remember off hand, but I think it was around 80 to 85 questions and cost around £100. In the end, I knew it would be quite close but thankfully I got through with a 67% pass mark (I believe you need 65% for a pass). Although there were a lot of questions, I got through it in around 45 minutes, as some questions are very short and you either know the answer or you don’t.

I’m on now to the Solutions Architect Professional exam next month, and the air gets a little rarer up there as the topics are a lot more in depth. I’m putting together some study notes, so assuming I complete them in time and they’re reasonably accurate to the exam, I’ll post them back for the community to use. They won’t be a dump though, so don’t come looking for one.

Happy public clouding!

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