Monday, August 13, 2018

Journey through the Amazon (Not the rainforest)

So I started my AWS journey two weeks back. After procrastinating for a few weeks I thought to bite the bullet and book an exam so that I would get myself to study for it. Looking at the certifications, I thought the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate was a good choice to start off with. At the time of writing, the latest exam was the one updated on February 2018.

I passed the exam last Saturday(11th August 2018) with a score of 839 out of a possible 1000. The exam was 130 minutes in duration where you had to answer 65 questions.

I big shout out to acloudguru as they had one comprehensive course which I purchased on Udemy for a very economical price as there was a sale on that day on Udemy. Their online course was updated for the 2018 exam which helped a lot.

The online course was well paced and structured in a logical manner which helped as I went along the way. One point to mention is when Ryan(The instructor) tells you to read the FAQs in certain areas, take it very seriously. I cannot stress the importance of this. There were so many questions that came up which I could answer only because I read the FAQs on certain areas (S3, EC2, DynamoDB etc). I made a few flash cards as I went along which helped me summarise things to study close to the exam. Things like S3, EC2 and VPC is of utmost importance as a majority of questions are from these categories. Also, never skip the labs that are done. Do it along with the instructor because as the old adage goes;

I read and I forgot, I saw and I believed, I did and I understood

One thing a friend of mine pointed out to me (thank you Udo) was that if you purchase the acloudguru course from Udemy, you can import it on the acloudguru platform by verifying you purchase. I would suggest you do this too since some of the updated lectures are updated on their own platform and it had better streaming than Udemy which sometimes would not even load for me. That lambda they use really work wonders :D

I prepared for approximately two weeks for the exam. Although I have to mention that I have worked with AWS before this as a Developer but mostly only related to EC2. Four days before the exam, I purchased a mock exam from AWS just to gauge whether I am ready for the exam. This had 30 exam questions and I must say this was a well spent purchase since some questions on the day of the exam was quite similar. One problem with the mock exam though is they do not mention what questions you got wrong, but just broke it down into different categories with a percentage so you know which area to focus on more.

Two days before the exam I always went through the flash cards I prepared every night and worked on doing the labs related to EC2, S3 and VPC. Specially VPC is very important since the exam sometimes tries to confuse you with certain things like security groups and network access lists.

As for the exam itself, although I cannot discuss the questions that came up as everyone signs an NDA before starting the exam, one thing I can say is some questions are tricky so you need to make sure to read the main keywords mentioned in the question. Some words like "availability" and "cost-effective" is important since the answer you select will change depending on whether you need cost effectiveness or high availability or both in some instances. 130 minutes is more than enough for the exam. I was done with 60 more minutes to spare.

As a final note, when you answer questions, I would suggest not to overthink it. Sometimes the most obvious answer is the right answer so don't look for a more complicated solution.

If anyone needs any help I would be glad to provide any assistance required and for anyone taking the exam, all the very best, I am sure you will knock it out of the park.

Next up, it will be the developer associate 2018 exam for me before heading over to the professional exam.

Thanks for reading and have a pleasant day everyone.

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