I am an experienced backend developer and systems administrator, with a strong interest in cloud and, in particular, AWS.
In 2020, I attained two AWS Associate level certifications – AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Associate) and AWS Certified Developer (Associate). AWS doesn’t require you to pass the associate level exam in order to sit any of the professional exams. However, I found it extremely useful having those two certifications (Architect Associate in particular). This associate certification boosted my confidence in – YES I can pass the pro exam – as well as providing me with some solid knowledge that is absolutely necessary.
Although there is no official pre-requisite to attempting this certification exam, I would recommend having at least one Associate Certification – ideally a Solutions Architect Associate Certification – before your exam.
My study approach and what you can take from it
Everyone has a different approach for learning, and the same goes for exam preparations. I would like to emphasise from the beginning that what’s worked for me may not necessarily work for everyone, so I encourage you to work out what works best for you.
For my own professional goals, I also followed some material from DevOps Pro certification. Going into the associate certifications, this approach worked for me as I prepared for both Architect and Developer associate exams in parallel. Depending on your experience and professional goals, this may not be best for everyone, especially if you don’t want to take a DevOps professional exam down the line.
- Make a realistic study plan and stick to it. Use the exam blueprint as a starting point to identify the domains to be tested, and map out the resources you will use for preparing each section. Allocate time for each – and accommodate some extra time in advance for the unexpected things that normally come up. Because well, things happen, and it will help you avoid the need of scrapping your plan altogether in case of unexpected or unplanned things taking you time.
- If taking notes or drawing architecture diagrams compliments your learning process, this is the exam for which you should try to do this.
- You may find some topics more challenging than others. For those, you may want to try listening to audio lectures on those topics, even when you are doing something else such as commuting, walking or anything– just like listening to music. It’s not the greatest of entertainment but it did work for me.
Okay, so you have worked hard preparing for this, without any doubt one of the hardest of AWS certifications. Now it’s time to put your knowledge to the test and demonstrate your expertise. These tips will come in handy when you are sitting the exam.
“If English is not your first language, Pearson offers 30 minutes extra, which should be requested before exam registration. Details under English as Second Language under Requesting Accommodations.”
- If you can, book for the exam and try to take it online. This will help you channel all of your energy for the exam, and not unnecessary commuting.
- Stop studying a couple of hours before the exam. Last minute preparation mostly adds to stress level, and may make you think you haven’t covered everything. Don’t worry – you’ve got this. Just relax, eat well and adapt to things that boost your energy.
- The exam consists of 10 questions that won’t affect your score. Do not try to identify or think about those. Just aim to attempt all the questions.
- The questions are long statements, and so are the answer choices. Skim through the question and identify key words, which are very helpful to answer question correctly.
- Often, the available answer choices are very similar with minor differences in words that will differentiate right from wrong. Practice identifying those words without spending too much time.
- If you get stuck, mark it for later review and move on. You should not spend more than two minutes on a single question. This will leave you 20-30 minutes for review. The exam is also a test of how you manage time. And, there is no penalty for wrong answers, so if you can’t answer the question, feel free to make a guess.
- The questions towards the end of the exam are comparatively simpler, with shorter statements and answers.
- AWS loves to make up fake services to confuse candidates. You should know the services well and identify bogus names that do not exist in AWS.
I used the below resources for my preparation:
While there are tons of training resources available on the internet that claim to be the best, I found the below course on Udemy by Stephane Maarek to be the best. I’m not trying to put forward the sales pitch for this, but this is absolutely the course you should watch and understand. It’s concise, yet fully covers the exam topics along with some scenarios.
Compliment this course with AWS documentation for specific services you need to understand in more depth or understand from the lecture.
Read AWS FAQs as much as you can, especially for the services that you are new to or require deeper knowledge in.
Some other resources to help you prepare for exam can be found on AWS Website here.
Not all of the below directly relate to Architect Pro (some are DevOps pro centred) but they’re a great read to understand scenarios in which services work together. This is important as most of the questions you see in exam are scenario-based.
- AWS Well Architectued Framework
- Blue/Green Deployments on AWS
- Practicing Continuous Integration Continuous Delivery on AWS
- Introduction to DevOps on AWS
- Development and Test on AWS
- AWS serverless Multi-tier architectures with AWS lambda and API Gateway.pdf
- Implementing microservices-on-aws.pdf
I hope this article helps you on your preparation journey to get your Professional Certification.
Get cracking – you’ve got this! Good luck.