In continuation of Part – I, today I am presenting additional sources that helped me to strengthen my understanding of AWS cloud. Don’t assume that just completing one single course and practicing few question sets will help you to achieve the certification.
In-depth Coverage and Question Sets
After completing Ryan’s course, I felt the need of exploring additional courses. This led me to two courses offered by Chandra Lingam. The essence of these courses is that it covers a lot of granular things along with rich question sets. The course is divided into 2 parts. First part consists of 300+ videos totaling more than 17+ hours, with close to 45+ question sets each question set having an average of 10 questions, so in total 450+ questions. The course consists of an explanation of various AWS services along with lab demonstration.
Second part consists of 145+ videos totaling more than 6+ hours, with close to 15+ question sets, with each question set having an average of 10 questions, so in total 150 questions. An in-depth explanation of every topic will help you to rewind most of the topics, you have learned in Ryan’s lecture plus some additional scenarios.
To finish both parts I and part II, it took me around 50+ hours.
While Udemy courses will help you master AWS services, it is still worth going through FAQ of every AWS services. It is one of the best FAQ content, I have found till now. Questions in each FAQ cover lot of service specific features, cost impact, disaster recovery options etc. Anyone aspiring to be AWS certified must visit FAQ to have tight grip over every topic. Some of them are listed as below.
Don’t consider this as final list, and you must read other FAQ as well. I have personally gone through almost all the FAQs and it took me around 100+ hours.
Sample Question Sets
After completing all the videos and intermediary tests, I will advise you to practice few more tests. This will help you to test your understanding of exam and clear any doubts you have. Naturally, my hunt started for identifying good set of question to prepare myself for exam and I found following links
- Ryan Kroonenburg – AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Practice Tests
- Chandra Lingam – Practice Test AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
Practice these questions sets and the one that comes with courses, till you get 100% in each. It took me around 50+ hours.
Practice… Practice… Practice…
After you are done with all the theory, don’t forget to practice the concepts in AWS. This is key to remember why and how you can leverage AWS for real-life solutions. Each service has a lot of options which can truly impact your solution in terms of cost, scale, disaster recovery, user experience etc. You must practice all the lab sessions discussed in the courses and ensure that you get similar output. Be careful, when you try out the services, some of them are not covered under free trial period and will cost you bomb if left running for a longer duration. At the end, you should be able to setup following without referring tutorials
1. Managing Security – IAM (Users, Policy definition, Active Directory, Web Identity etc.)
2. Managing S3 buckets (lifecycle, replication, ACL, website hosting)
3. VPC (private-public subnet, bastion, nat instance)
4. EBS (snapshot, encryption)
5. Lambda (API gateway, events)
6. RDS (Aurora, Backup recovery)
7. Asynchronous services (SNS, SQS, SWF)
8. Cloud Trail
9. Cloud Watch
I spent almost 50+ hours on practicing things and didn’t stop until, I could able to do it without reading a manual. There are other services which I didn’t mention but those are important too
- Cloud Front
- Cloud Formation
- Direct Connect
- Cloud Search
- Elastic Transcoder
In total, I spent almost 250+ hours for AWS preparation. The number of hours totally depends on a person, I usually require a lot of time to understand a topic. The most important thing is to understand the importance of planning disciplined efforts. Every day, at least an hour combined with 5 hours on every weekend will help you to knock off every topic.
AWS has done a great job in terms of offering solutions and even greater job in documenting the services. Whitepapers listed on AWS site are also great for understanding the pillars of building strong cloud architecture. Some of the whitepapers, I will recommend are
Overview of Amazon Web Services
- AWS Well-Architected Framework
- Architecting for the Cloud: AWS Best Practices
- How AWS Pricing Works
Appearing for Exam
Finally, I bought exam online at AWS training two weeks prior to the exam date. Ensure that the location you will choose will not have traffic problems on the given date or has multiple transport options to reach within time (road, rail). I made sure that the last two weeks, I will spend practicing the concepts and solving sample question sets in Udemy course. On the exam date, I was much relaxed and didn’t do any last moment study. My day began with waking up on usual time, having good breakfast and ensuring all the required identity proofs are kept in the bag. Though it has been asked to reach exam center 15 minutes early, I reached to the place 45 minutes prior to my schedule. Sometimes the exam centers are very crowded and it takes a lot of time to complete the formalities, hence I will advise you to reach at least 30 minutes before. This will also ensure, you will have peaceful time before you enter the exam room. Note that you are not allowed to carry anything apart from clothes you are wearing and a handkerchief. Everything else is prohibited, even a watch. So make sure, to carry a nice bag which can accommodate all your belongings and it can be kept in a safe locker (provided by exam centers).
I hope you may find my experience and the resources I have listed helpful. Good luck.
UPDATE 1 (15 Oct 2017): Thanks to simplilearn for contacting me and providing details about free AWS exam. I would like everyone to go for it and test your skills.