I had no professional experience with Amazon Web Services (AWS) products, currently work for VMware, and passed the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam (AWS SAA-C02) with my first attempt.
This article gives you an overview which content and training material I used to prepare myself for the AWS SAA-C02 exam.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Exam
First of all, you need to make yourself familiar with the SAA-C02 exam guide. Do not let the low exam fee of $150 fool you. It is a tough exam! Here are the exam conditions:
- Testing center can be Pearson VUE or PSI (I would recommend Pearson VUE)
- You have to answer 65 questions in 130min (exam includes 15 unscored questions that do not affect your score)
- Two type of questions – multiple choice and multiple response
- No hands-on or lab questions
- Minimum passing score is 720 of 1000
- I had two wait almost 24h to get my result
Even I was not that well prepared and had to guess many times, the 130 minutes were enough to complete the exam and review some of the flagged questions. If English is difficult for you and you are a non-native English speaker, AWS gives you a 30-min exam extension for all future exam registrations.
To request this accommodation, follow these steps before you schedule your exam:
- Sign in to aws.training/certification
- Select the Go to your Account button
- Select the Request Exam Accommodations button, followed by Request Accommodation
- Using the Accommodation Type dropdown, select ESL +30 MINUTES
- Select the Create button.
How did I prepare for the exam?
I always study with books, if possible. So, the first I would recommend is reading the “AWS Certified Solutions Architect Study Guide: Associate SAA-CO2 Exam” book, which I bought on Amazon. This helped me very quickly to get a basic understanding of almost all the core services covered on the exam.
Now you are prepared to start with one or more online courses.
If you already have a subscription for “A Cloud Guru“, then you are good to go. A lot of people are saying that their platform and content are very good. I worked with the following Udemy resources since I had no access to “A Cloud Guru” when I started studying:
- Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate 2022 (by Stephane Maarek)
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Practice Exams (by Jon Bonso)
Note: I paid around $15 (instead $100) for Stephane’s training. Jon’s practice exams were around the same (instead of $30 I believe). Wait for these kinds of special offers and do not pay the full price. 😉
I did not have the time to watch the complete 27 hours of on-demand video content, but Stephane Maarek gives you also his slide deck with over 800 pages that cover everything you need to know for the exam. This allowed me to learn faster and be more efficient!
The practice exams from Jon Bonso were very helpful. As a beginner like me, you get a better idea of the exam and how you can architect solutions and combine different AWS services. In the Udemy comment section people said that the practice exam questions were more difficult than the ones on the exam. While I recognized a few of the use cases during exam, I felt the opposite: the questions during the exam were more difficult
Note: If you think you can just memorize all the answers from the practice exams available on the internet (and Udemy), you are most probably going to fail. You need to know the different core service and understand the details like high availability options, encryption or the characteristics and differences of all the database offerings like Aurora, DynamoDB, ElastiCache, RDS or Redshift.
I recommend going through the slide deck at least two or three times before you start with the practice exams.
I did not do it, but if you have time, then browse through the AWS product-related FAQs. I did that for some of the products that were a little bit more difficult to understand for me.
Example: Let’s say I had a hard time to understand VMware Cloud on AWS (not part of the exam blueprint), then the FAQs helped me to better understand the service availability, service definition, configuration options, integrations and use cases.
How much time to prepare?
I started in March 2022 and took the exam at the beginning of June 2022. It was planned that I take the exam after 6 weeks of preparation, but with three kids at home and very busy work schedule, I had to postpone the exam two times. I even had a break of three weeks where I could not study.
If you can focus for at least 4 to 6 weeks, depending also on the video content you want to consume, that is enough time to pass the exam. My plan was to invest 2-3 hours a day.
Note: I did not make use of the AWS Free Tier and hands-on labs from Stephane Maarek.
Are you ready?
Let me know in the comment section below if this study guide was helpful to you. Good luck! 🙂