Who is the AWS Solution Architect Professional certification for ?
I’d recommend you embark on this challenge only if you already have a few years of AWS experience and you already managed to explore a few different services and different types of architectures.
This certification is for those who want to have a comprehensive view of what’s possible with AWS and that are aiming to be able to advise about the best architectures for specific problems.
In my view, this certification is for you if you are working as a AWS cloud consultant (or you want to be one) or you are aiming to get an architect role at a company with a significant footprint on AWS.
If you have already taken other AWS certifications that would also be very beneficial for you. This is probably the hardest of AWS certification so having experienced the whole process with other AWS certifications will help.
In my case, I took the AWS Solution Architect associate certification around May 2022. Generally, if you have less than 2 years of experience with AWS, I’d recommend taking other certification first but I myself don’t have much working experience with AWS when I took the exam but still managed to pass the exam.
The AWS Solution Architect is probably the toughest exam I had to do to get an IT certification.
The exam is not easy, it requires quite a lot of focus.
There are tons of questions, every question is very verbose and getting the right answer while trying to manage your time can be challenging. On top of that, you need a very broad knowledge about AWS services and different types of architectural concerns.
The exam is a multiple answer question. In its current incarnation (2022) there are 75 questions and you have 3 hours to complete it. This gives you about 2 minutes per question. Questions are complex and really long, which put the participant under extra time pressure.
My Personal Strategy to prepare for the exam
Well… unfortunately, I don’t think there is a bullet-proof method to pass this exam. This exam takes a good mixture of expertise, focus and (of course) a bit of luck. You should do your best to arrive prepared at the exam, but I also recommend you account for a good chance of failure. It’s not a shame to fail the exam and you can always try it again later.
So, how did I prepare myself?
I started as a Backend Developer when I first joined my firm. Throughout my journey in the firm, I didn’t have much hands-on experience with AWS. I learned by myself during the weekend or during my free time. This required you to commit your free time and study for the exam.
AWS SA Pro is one of the toughest IT certification out there, I won’t recommend anyone to take this exam without any experience. You should pass the AWS SA Associate exam and real hands-on experience with AWS before considering this exam.
I am here to provide ways to prepare for the exam in the shortest time.
Udemy Course (AWS SA Professional – Stephane Maarek)
For the first step, I prepared myself by buying a course from Udemy. I strongly recommended Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional 2022 – By Stephane Maarek. This is a great study course for anyone who has a familiarity with AWS services or has AWS SAA certification. It’s laser-focused on the contents that are needed to pass the exam.
The course is ALL-SLIDES-BASED, no hands-on will be done during this course. This course is FAST-PACED and you must be ready to learn fast. It does not waste time over some basics and I advise you to use the slides for some offline review after your session. I also recommend not to hesitate to go over some lectures you might have not understood fully. This course also has updates regularly throughout the years. The course will always stay relevant and updated with the latest exam structure.
The course content is divided into sections (ex: Security, Storage, Databases, Caching, etc….). It enabled us to study based on section. If you are weak on certain sections like Databases, you can revise only that section without wasting time on other parts.
The total video length was approximately 14.5 hours, it is not a short course, I recommend everyone to force yourself to finish it within a month and proceed to the next step.
After you finish the course, you should have a broad understanding of various services provided by AWS. So, it is time to try out the actual mock exam.
Tutorial Dojo (AWS SA Professional – Jon Bonso)
The next thing you should really do to assess where you stand is to take an exam simulation. An exam simulation will present you 75 questions similar to the ones you might find during the real exam and you’ll have 3 hours to answer them.
There are various practice exams available out there. Personally, I strongly recommend the practice exam from Tutorial Dojo, AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional Practice Exams 2022 – By Jon Bonso.
It comes with actual exam questions in TIMED mode, REVIEW mode, SECTION-BASED, and FINAL TEST mode with Explanations, Reference Links, Score Tracking, Plus BONUS Flashcards.
For the start, I start with the Section-Based questions. It tested my knowledge about each domain tested during the exam. I keep repeating the questions from each domain until I am confident. Refer back to your study material whenever you feel there are gaps.
Next, you should proceed with the Review-Based practice exams. I felt this is the mode that helps me the most. It simulates the actual exam which presents you with 75 questions without a time limit. You can take your time to answer each question and review your answer immediately with just a click.
For every question you get a quite lengthy explanation about how you should have interpreted the question and a walkthrough over all the possible answers.. This can teach you how to analyze questions and answers and it will help you train the right muscles to spot correct answers and recognize and avoid wrong answers (distractors). It also helps you to consolidate your knowledge for that particular domain because you can know why the answer you selected is incorrect and why other answers are more suitable for that question. Keep repeating all the practice exams until you are confident.
Lastly, try out the TIMED mode practice exam to get yourself familiar with the pace during the actual exam. Again, don’t feel demotivated if you can’t pass the practice exam in one go. Study more and attempt it again until you pass the practice exam.
Before the exam
- Completed the Udemy course
- Try to attempt all the practice exams in Tutorial Dojo
- Don’t worry too much about your score (I failed almost all of them!), but focus on the questions you failed. Read the explanation and make sure to understand if you need to research more about the topic.
- Compile a list of all the topics you need to research more about (your gaps).
- Find study material (YouTube, official AWS material, etc.) and try to fill the gaps.
- Try to do a couple more exam simulations without pausing the exam.
- Don’t wait for your simulation score to be over 75% before you try the real exam, just make sure your score has improved and that you feel much more confident.
During the exam
- Read the question carefully and try to understand what are the main keywords and what’s the context. After a few simulations you should know what to expect and you should be able to skim through the question quickly.
- But if you feel you haven’t fully understood the question, take the time to read it again.
- Manage your time. Ideally you shouldn’t be spending more than 2 minutes per question, but sometimes there are questions that require you more time. Don’t stress too much out if you are taking too long for a given question, there will be questions that you’ll be able to answer in less than 2 minutes and those will help you to balance things out. Make sure though not to spend too much time on a given question. If it’s taking you more than 4 minutes, you should probably skip it (or even better give a temporary answer) and come back to it later.
- You can flag questions for review. This means that flagged questions will be highlighted and it will be easier for you to get back to them if you have extra time and want to review the answer.
- A lot of questions don’t have absolutely objective answers. Actually most questions are arguable (in my opinion). In those cases try to go by exclusion and find reasons not to pick particular answers. Try also to wear the hat of AWS: ask yourself what would AWS itself most likely recommend?
After the exam
- If you passed it… well, good job! Time to brag with your friends and co-workers and celebrate!
- If you didn’t pass it… no worries! You have probably learned a lot anyway. Go back to more simulations and study material and try again in a few months! Next time will certainly go better!
Shoutout to itcertificate.org for providing me a chance to share my experience on how to prepare for AWS Solutions Architect Professional certification and giving me time to draft out and prepare the guide.
I wish you the very best for your exam!