Are you ready to take on new challenges my immersing yourself in all things cloud? Well if you are, you are probably thinking about getting an Amazon Web Service (AWS) certification. I put together a guide below that helped me pass my Solutions Architect Associate certification. Links provided on this post are not affiliated or contain referrals, I just hope you pass your exam(s) and give me a shout!

Understanding Your Path

Amazon provides multiple paths to achieve your Solutions Architect Associate certification as depicted by the diagram below.

AWS Certification Paths

You may consider skipping the Certified Cloud Practitioner exam if you have some experience utilizing AWS. This exam was not available when I was studying for the Solutions Architect exam and it was recommended at the time to pass the Certified Developer exam first prior to attempting the exam.

I personally feel it is possible to pass the Cloud Practitioner and Solutions Architect Associate by using the study guide in this blog post.

The Guide

Now that you understand the paths and hopefully your overall plan of attack to achieve your certification(s), let’s look at what material I used to pass my exam.

Self-Paced Instruction

I recommend using a self-paced instruction provider as they have great content to get you started and you can learn at a pace that you are most comfortable. I purchased the A Cloud Guru AWS Solutions Architect Associate course on Udemy to get started. This helped me understand what areas I needed to focus for the exam, while fitting into my daily life schedule. If A Cloud Guru doesn’t suits your needs, I have heard good things about Linux Academy Solutions Architect Associate course.

Well-Architected Framework

Woah, talk about an AWS knowledge bomb! These whitepapers help architects build secure and highly resilient environments using all the tools that AWS has to offer. The best part of it all is that Amazon provides this documentation at no additional cost. The whitepapers are broken up into the following sections:

You could more than likely pass the exam without reading the whitepapers; however, I took a few extra days to read them to gain further architectural direction for future solutions. There are some valuable nuggets of information that I feel will be useful in the future.

Labs & Practice Exams

This is the area that I focused on the most to help me prepare for my certification. It is useful to understand the exam format and know what areas require more of your attention. It also provided deeper hands-on tutorials beyond what A Cloud Guru or Linux Academy provided with their great course material. I first started takings the free sample questions provided by AWS. After getting a taste for what the questions would look like, I used the following two sources:

  • WhizLabs - Certified Solutions Architect Associate
  • This is 8 full length mock exams that are timed similar to the real exams.
  • Exams have the ability to go back to incorrectly answered questions that link directly to the AWS documentation, so you can understand why your missed that particular question.
  • This is not a “Brain Dump” and strictly mimics exam questions.
  • I would not sign-up to take the real exam until you are consistently achieving scores of 80% on the practice exams.
  • QuikLabs - Solutions Architect Associate Quest
  • Hands-on lab that takes you through everything you need to know to be a AWS Solutions Architect.
  • You should be able to only purchase a single month and knock out everything you need from QuickLabs within the month.

Lastly, I would recommend following /r/amazonwebservices sub-reddit for the latest AWS feature releases. This is extremely helpful as AWS is ALWAYS changing.

Signing Up & Expectations

Now that you have completed the guide above, it is time to sign up for the exam. You should take a few minutes to read the exam blueprint. You will need a score of 720 points out of 1000 to pass, though tests may contain different weights due to differing exam difficulty. The exam covers the following domains:

  • 34% - Design Resilient Architectures
  • 24% - Define Performant Architectures
  • 26% - Specify Secure Applications and Architectures
  • 10% - Design Cost-Optimized Architectures
  • 6% Define Operationally Excellent Architectures

Once again, the domain weightings can very from exam to exam and is not guaranteed to follow the defined structure above. If you followed this post, you should be prepared to take the exam and pass! So get your $150 ready and sign up for the exam!

Thanks for reading my post and I wish you good luck!