Passed (Nov 29th 2019) one of the toughest exams I ever attempted, questions were less verbose to start with but as I moved from question to question it grew bigger and bigger.
Scored 812 out of 1000.
Sharing my experience below.
What I did.
The order I followed was (details for some of them are provided in the sections below).
- Read the previous exam Experiences from A Cloud Guru forum and LinkedIn Pulse links
- Went through A Cloud Guru AWS Certification Preparation Guide Course
- Went through A Cloud Guru Videos for Cloud Practitioner and Solution Architect Associate courses
- Took A Cloud Guru Exam Simulator for Practitioner – Easy, passed.
- Took A Cloud Guru Exam Simulator for Associate – Shocked to see that I failed my Exam (YMMV).
- Took the first Practice Test (Total 6 of them) Udemy Practice Test for Associate – Again shocked to see that I failed the Exam.
- Went through tons of re:Invent, AWS Web Service Youtube Channel, Whitepapers and AWS User Guide documentation
- Tried the A Cloud Guru Exam Simulator until I Pass.
- Went through the rest of the Practice Tests from Udemy (Total 6 of them).
- Went through A Cloud Guru Professional Video Course
- Took A Cloud Guru Exam Simulator for Professional
- Scheduled AWS Practice Test which is online based.
- Took AWS Practice Test – Failed with 65% – Most of the previous takes feel this is tougher than the actual Exam. But for me it was easier than the Actual Exam. I struggled to complete 20 questions in 60 mins due to verbose questions/answers. The ideal time would be to take 2 mins per questions and take the rest of the time to review the answers/flagged questions.
- Took Udemy Practice Tests (Spent about 6-8 hours per day per Practice Test for 4 days). As of this writing there are 4 Practice Tests
- Scheduled for Exam (Center was @ Pondicherry/Puducherry/பாண்டிச்சேரி , India/இந்தியா) just the day before (with ESL to get 30 mins additional time).
- Appear for the actual Exam and VUE Pearson center and passed.
Exam experiences from others (Mandatory)
- Very detailed note of expected services, topics, etc., They covered pretty much all the important of them..Read through these, understand the complexity and set the expectation for yourself.
- A Cloud Forum for feedback from others after the Exams – https://acloud.guru/forums/aws-csa-pro-2019/recent?p=1
- You will need to revisit the above now and then to go deep on specific topics and read experience from the new certification takers.
- This will also give you an idea of how to schedule your Exam preparation, practice tests and actual Exam dates and duration.
- On an average it should take about 3 months with 2-3 hrs average on a daily basis. (Please refer the AWS Certification Preparation Guide A Cloud Guru video course to understand why and how)
- By this time you could have figured out which Video course provider to use, there are few of them
- A Cloud Guru – I chose this. Your mileage may Vary.
- Linux Academy
- Udemy (Few authors like DolfinEd, Jon Bose, etc.,)
- Go through A Cloud Guru videos (https://acloud.guru) (Please read Exam Simulators below before Signing up). You can set the speed of the video to 1.2 or 1.5x to learn faster (Don’t worry you will not lose the content).
- AWS Certification Preparation Guide – Mandatory, you need to revisit every now and then to make sure you are on the right track and learning the right way.
- AWS Cloud Practitioner – Optional, but would recommend to brush through quickly to get a feel of it.
- AWS Solution Architect – Associate – Mandatory, though this is no longer a prerequisite for the certification. This will give mostly Service/Objectives with less verbose. Complete the Exam Simulator.
- AWS Solution Architect – Professional – This doesn’t cover any services in depth, just a recap of what you learned from Practitioner and Associate level. Complete the Exam Simulator.
- re:Invent Videos – https://www.youtube.com/user/AmazonWebServices/search?query=re%3AInvent
- AWS Webservice Channel from Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/AmazonWebServices/videos – search for the topics and watch them. You can set the speed of the video to 1.2 or 1.5x to speed up.
Exam Simulators / Practice Tests
- A Cloud Guru Exam Simulator for Associate & Professional – It is ok, but the explanation for the answers are not very detailed (please check the below points of Udemy). Would recommend to sign up for trial after the training videos are completed. Signup if looks good and cancel once you are done, otherwise it is automatically charged every month. You can become a member again if required in the same account.
- Practice Tests Exam from Udemy for Associate and Professional – Highly recommended as these have very high quality questions, some/similar questions appeared in the actual exam.
- AWS Whitepapers – https://aws.amazon.com/whitepapers/ (Please refer the Exam experience links for the whitepaper topics)
- AWS Documentation / User Guides – https://docs.aws.amazon.com/
3 Weeks before the Exam date
- Try the practice tests one by one
- It took 6 hours per Tests for Professional
- 3 hours to do the Practice Test
- An hour or more to review the wrong answer and also the right answers – as some of the right answer may be by fluke or by elimination, you need to know why that answer is right.
- Mark the service/topics/questions you want to revise during your the review
- Retake the tests and make sure you get 95% above.
- Go back and read through the marked service/topics/questions.
- The Udemy Professional Practice Test has 4 of them, so you need at least 3-4 days to do them.
- By the end of the first iteration, you would know your weaknesses and strengths. Spend the next week to go through the videos/whitepapers/user guide and practice on the Free trial AWS account.
- Again on 3rd week, repeat the Practice Tests and make sure you are reading the Qs and mark the answers as though you are reading for the first time, not from the memory of the first week.
- This will prepare for you to understand how verbose the questions will be in the actual Exam, handle time, flag the questions, reviewing etc.,
- Before Schedule Exam
- Make sure you ask for additional 30 mins to review the answers – this is basically called ESL – English as a Second Language. This is supposed to be for people whose first language is not English. Please follow the instructions from the link – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/30-minute-extension-your-aws-certification-exam-garcia-lozano
- During Exam
- You will be provided with Plastic Laminated Card with Marker Pen just boxes for your use during the exam. They will just wipe off after you are done to not to leak what you have written.
- Please categorize the Questions you are flagging with few names you are comfortable, like – Doubtful, Don’t Know, Okish, Verbose, etc., so after you are done, you can attack them by category, \you don’t review the questions which could be least priority (for eg., Okish category) and waste your precious time.
- I would recommend to flag and skip the questions which are very verbose, because they take away too much of your time. I felt sick of them after going through several of them and stressful when you can’t figure out the answer quickly, the clock is ticking and taking more than 2-3 mins.
- Should have started the Practice Tests for Professional 3 weeks before the Exam, but took it only the week before.
- I did spend some time on AWS Free Trial account but should have practiced more on important topics (IAM, VPC, Cloudformation, etc.,) in AWS Free Trial account, you remember only when you understand you can’t retain the knowledge by just viewing/reading videos/whitepapers.