I achieved AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate certification recently, and would like to share some experiences with people who are pursuing for this certification. I hope my method might saves your time to prepare for the exam. I'm also enlisting some of the questions that I collected from Internet.
Before we begin, its good to have below :
- AWS fundamentals & the overview of the offerings from AWS in the form of services.
- You have some practical hands on experience on AWS (good to have for solving scenario based questions and troubleshooting questions)
I feel Associate exams are much easier than professional level, I believe you can pass this exam in 10 days if you already have fairly good AWS understanding. But if you are brand new to AWS, please spend another month or two for hands-on experience.
If you focus on preparing for the exam (which you must be doing),it shouldn't be that difficult. Question is how do you prepare.
My opinion is you focus on whats relevant. This exam doesn't ask you questions on what buttons to press to launch an EC2 instance or how to launch RDS instances so you don't need to know each and everything step by step.
Services I focused for this particular examination :
Keep below tips in mind while you follow my guide step by step, that you DO NOT miss on any of these points while studying.
- Understand the fundamentals/functionalities of all the services listed above.
- VPC is the key to clear any AWS certification. You should have good understanding & working of ENI, EIP, Security Groups, Network ACL, Routers, Gateways and NAT Instances.
- Focus more on RDS concepts than specific database specific implementation details. This includes understanding the snapshots, parameter groups & impact of maintenance window.
- Understand the scenarios on choosing the right AWS services. This includes Auto Scale vs Beanstalk, EBS vs Ephemeral Storage, Security Groups vs NACLs, CloudFormation, RDS vs DynamoDB and so on.
- Integration between Amazon S3 and Glacier, Lifecycle of objects and Bucket Policy vs ACLs.
- Understand the shared responsibility model of AWS. Clearly differentiate between your responsibilities vs. AWS responsibilities
- Know the performance optimization techniques in terms of choosing the right EC2 instance, PIOPS of EBS and EBS Optimized Instances.
- Read the question carefully because most of the correct answers can be derived from the problem statement.
- Finally, applying some commonsense will help you eliminate wrong choices.
1. Online Course :
You may want to enroll in one of the AWS Solution Architect training sessions. There are many options out there,
I studied using Udemy's "A Cloud Guru" series created by Ryan Kroonenburg. Ryan Kroonenburg | Solutions Architect | Udemy, training's that are tailor-made for these certifications (Udemy Online Courses - Learn Anything, On Your Schedule). I would recommend this course since this course is affordable(I got this for $12 in discount.:) )
The best part with them is they have a good amount of practice exam questions that will give you an idea about the quality of questions you may see in actual AWS certification exam.
Complete all the lectures of solutions architect course This is really important to complete all the lectures and the quizzes after each lecture, I would recommend to take quizzes at least twice, because many of these practice questions was appeared in my actual exam.
PS : I’m not trying to encourage/promote any Training providers, neither I'm associated anyhow with these training provider , the names mentioned/recommended is just what I’ve felt to be good. :)
2. Watch some videos for below services:
- Elastic Beanstalk
- Cloud Formation
This is just to understand the fundamentals and functionalities of these services. Do not watch long duration service videos just google it, you’ll find some 8 to 10 min duration videos on YouTube.
3. FAQ’s of all the services:
If you have seen Udemy course and if you have understood the concepts very well you need not spend much time in checking each service FAQ’s thoroughly, but definitely you should look for some unique questions and limitations mentioned in FAQ’s . But, but if contents of course are not really clear then you should really go through the FAQ’s very well.
I would recommend you FAQ's are the last thing you should study or may be just a day before exam if you are planing to go through them for each and every services, this will help you recall whatever you have studied till now.
4. Service Limits:
Below link has all the service limits, the service limits are really very important in exam point of view as we get direct questions in the exam on limit of service. For example, How many VPC we can create in any region. Ans: 5
So, these kind of direct questions can be asked of service limits, though you need not require to remember each and every parameter of service limits but you should remember limits of main parameters or functions of any services.
5. Read about Pricing models of AWS services:(i.e how we get charged for AWS services) :
You need to understand how we are getting charged by AWS for using any particular services and what are other factors involved that incurs cost for using the service. For example,
Pricing for EC2 :
Here you need not know what is the exact cost of any particular instance type. But you need to know how we get charged for ec2 and what are other parameters we need to consider in terms of cost if we use ec2 instances. i.e for ec2, other things we might get charged for is elastic ip, ebs, data transfer out/in etc. likewise, same applies for other services also.
This is important to know of scenario based questions where we also need to consider cost factor.
6. Read below blog:
This blog is really useful for solving trouble shooting questions go through complete blog at least once.
7. Take practice exam and sample questions :
You only need to pay for practice exam once as the questions are the same each time.
These questions are very important, search and learn the answers deeply. Make sure you understand these knowledge shown in these questions. Questions are either same or quite similar in the actual exam.
8. Additional recommendations :
In addition to online courses, I recommend reading the AWS whitepapers and more you need to do thorough Hands-on while you go through AWS documentation and/or Training video sessions. That’s the much needed part of your preparation. Sign up for AWS Free Tier account and play around with the services as you learn. I recommend you read through AWS CloudWatch and setup a couple of Alarms on the Billing as soon as you sign up for AWS Free Tier account, just to make sure you don’t get charged for the unattended services you start for practice(DO NOT FORGET TO DELETE THE RESOURCES YOU START).
You can also go to: https://qwiklabs.com/ which offers more than 72 free labs where you can get to do good amount of hands on practice.
Also there are few blogs and IOS application available which has more than 300 questions which might also useful for your practice, you can purchase the same if you want to, from app store, the same is available for android as well.
Let me know your feedback in comment section below.
9. Now, Questions and answers:
(Apology for unsorted questions )
Q. You configured ELB to perform health checks on these EC2 instances. If an instance fails to pass health checks, which statement will be true?
Q. You are building a system to distribute confidential training videos to employees. Using CloudFront, what method could be used to serve content that is stored in S3, but not publically accessible from S3 directly?
Q. Which of the following will occur when an EC2 instance in a VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) with an associated Elastic IP is stopped and started? (Choose 2 answers)
Q. In the basic monitoring package for EC2, Amazon CloudWatch provides the following metrics:
Question 6 (of 7): Which is an operational process performed by AWS for data security?
Q. To protect S3 data from both accidental deletion and accidental overwriting, you should:
YOUR ANSWER - Petabyte-scale
YOUR ANSWER - massively parallel processing
YOUR ANSWER - columnar
YOUR ANSWER - complex SQL queries / large
YOUR ANSWER - system
YOUR ANSWER - undefined
YOUR ANSWER - both
YOUR ANSWER - All of the above
YOUR ANSWER - 3
YOUR ANSWER - Management
YOUR ANSWER - Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
YOUR ANSWER - Provides resizable computing capacity in the cloud.
YOUR ANSWER - 10 cents per GB per month
YOUR ANSWER - All of the above
YOUR ANSWER - True
YOUR ANSWER - 186%
YOUR ANSWER - 14 months
YOUR ANSWER - 86
YOUR ANSWER - $3 billion
YOUR ANSWER - $2 to $3
YOUR ANSWER - Object
YOUR ANSWER - AWS Import/Export
YOUR ANSWER - Buckets
YOUR ANSWER - data at rest
YOUR ANSWER - 2
YOUR ANSWER - Reduced Redundancy Storage
YOUR ANSWER - Metadata
YOUR ANSWER - False
YOUR ANSWER - High scalability and low latency data storage infrastructure at low costs.
YOUR ANSWER - All of the above