Get an AWS certification
A big tick in the checkbox for me! Most of the people I work with know that I’m an AWS nerd, and I’ve been meaning to attain certification for some time now by completing an exam.
What does it involve?
AWS offers five certifications, three of which are Associate level, meaning they can be taken without any prerequisites. I chose to undertake the Certified Solution Architect – Associate, and based on internet opinion it appears that it’s the most popular AWS certification. Although it would seem like AWS Certifed Developer – Associate would apparently make more sense for my background, I think in truth, CSA is a more transferrable and flexible first certification.
Exam prep vs reality
There’s quite a few AWS certification 3rd party training sites. I was tempted, but didn’t pull the trigger. Their public discussion threads were a little insightful though. I did purchase the practice exam for US$20 from the official test provider’s website, but in honesty found this to be a gross underrepresentation of the depth of the actual exam.
Here’s what I thought vs what I found, for the AWS Certified Solution Architect – Associate exam:
- Found the exam to be largely scenario-based. This is consistent with everything the internet says.
- Found the questions to be worded trickily. For example, the question might ask about web-tier, and therefore any questions involving AWS database services would be invalid.
- Expected more questions involving VPCs. I didn’t get that many VPC scenarios.
- Was not prepared for the breadth of S3-related questions. If I did this again, I would read up as many S3 use cases as I could find.
- Was amused at a couple of repeat questions. This happened at least twice.
- Found that I could apply process-of-elimination to a number of trickier questions. Some questions that required 2 answers out of 5, I was able to rule out 3 impossible answers. Bazinga.
- Found that the fact-seeking questions generally only covered one aspect of that service. For example, there were a fair few Route 53 questions, which only asked about one specific aspect at a time.
I’m cognisant that the questions for individual exam instances (haha instances) are randomly selected and so my experience may have been a chance outcome.
Overall – pretty happy with this exam, as a reflection of my two years on the AWS platform!