AWS Solutions Architect - Associate Exam

I recently passed Amazon Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Exam and decided to write about it. Exam covers wide range of services offered by Amazon and will test if candidates can design scalable and fault-tolerant solution. It is not a very difficult exam but it does cover a large number of topics. In this post, I will try to consolidate all the information that one might need to prepare for the exam. I will also write another blog post with practice questions to help you test your knowledge.

Exam Format: The exam contains 60 multiple choice questions and total duration of exam is 80 minutes.  This is more than enough time to answer questions. A significant number of questions will have more than one correct answer and all correct answers need to be selected to get credit. Question statement mentions the number of correct answers which needs to be selected.
Blue Print: Here is the link to the Blue Print of exam by AWS.
Sample Questions: Here is the link to seven practice questions released by Amazon.
Exam Registration: Here is the link to register for the exam. The cost of exam is 150 USD at the time of writing.
Passing Marks: Amazon does not reveal passing marks of the exams. However, most probably you will pass the exam if overall score is above seventy percent.

Preparation: In my opinion, these are the three basic steps that you need to do to pass the exam: Read white papers mentioned in blue print, create AWS Account and play around with web services, and solve practice questions. 

1) Reading White Papers and FAQ’s
I read following white papers: AWS Storage Services Whitepaper v9, AWS Cloud Best Practices, AWS Overview, Security Storage Services Whitepaper. All of these white papers are very important to read. You will be in much better position to pass the exam if you thoroughly read and understand the content of these papers. The white papers can be downloaded from this link.
2) Playing around with AWS Account
No amount of reading can compensate for the practical experience. I can’t stress this enough that you should create an Amazon Account and play around with different services. Create public and private subnets in VPC, Modify route tables, Create security groups, EC2 instances and RDS instances, configure RDS backup options, create S3 buckets and grant cross-account access e.t.c. A number of amazon web services are eligible for free-tier and might not cost anything as long as usage is under free-tier restrictions.
3) Solving Practice Questions
Once you have read the white papers and spent some time playing around with web service, next step is to solve as many practice questions as possible. After I passed the exam, I wrote 150 test questions and compiled them into an e-book. Here is the link to book on Amazon. Answers to questions, in this book, contain small explanation and a link to AWS documentation. Please go through the links given with answers. In Exam, candidate will be informed to select 1 or 2 correct answers. However, in book, some questions will not mention the exact number of correct answers to make questions slightly more difficult. 

I strongly believe that you will pass exam easily if you read above mentioned white papers, spend some time using web services, solve these practice questions and read all links mentioned in answers. Best of Luck.

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