AWS Certified Solution Architect – Associate Exam

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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?

solutions-architect-associateAWS 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!