How I passed 6 AWS exams in 2 months

At Move Work Forward we use heavily Amazon Web Services and many team members have passed multiple AWS Certifications. Here are the details of preparation for 6 AWS Certified exams in 2 months.
December 16, 2020
Technology
Productivity

Preface

We, at Move Work Forward, are using Amazon Web Service for our Cloud products and to test Server and Data Center products. Additionally, I was using AWS since 2013, so I was not new to AWS.

I wanted to summaries my knowledge and quickly find out what I do not know about AWS and fill the required gaps.

I passed 6 AWS in 2 months (in the following order):

  • AWS Certified Developer - Associate (DVA)
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate (SAA)
  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate (SOA)
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional (DOP)
  • AWS Certified Security - Specialty (SCS)
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional (SAP)

My approach

Below I will list the resources and my approach.

For each exam, I had the following strategy:

  • Understand the exam requirements using acloud.guru first 2-3 lectures;
  • make a list of resources I had to go through and an optional list to go if I got some time before the exam;
  • set a deadline; usually, it was 2-3 weeks away from the 1 of preparation for a concrete exam;
  • sign up for a test exam with PSI 1 week before the exam to understand the gaps;
  • wake up every day at 5:00 am and walk for 1.5 hours while watching necessary courses at 2-x the speed;
  • every second day a walk of 1 hour in the evening to watch two hours of a course
  • every second day during the lunchtime watch an online course or a reinvent video;
  • If I got 50%+ right at the practice exam - sign up for the real exam with Vue to do the exam at home.
  • A day before the exam, I watched the summaries of the exam-specific courses on acloud.guru as a refresher.

I also wanted to bundle the exams to save time studying, so my first 3 exams were in one week. Below you can find the list of resources I used to prepare for each exam and my recommendations about them.

Resource list

Let's start with Associate-level exams.

Associate-level exams

  • acloud.guru "AWS Certified Developer - Associate 2020" online course
  • acloud.guru "Introduction to Amazon RDS" online course
  • acloud.guru "AWS Certification Preparation Guide" online course - time wasted
  • acloud.guru "AWS Certified Advanced Networking" online course
  • acloud.guru "AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C02" online course
  • acloud.guru "AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional 2020" online course
  • acloud.guru "AWS Certified SysOps Administrator" online course
  • read AWS FAQ about CloudWatch, S3, SQS, SNS and a couple of others where I felt something was not clear
  • I never tried a Practice exam from acloud.guru, as I didn't have 3 hours in front of the computer to waste.

The exams themself are not as tough as you can guess because some answers do not make sense and you typically select from only two instead of 4 responses.

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional (DOP)

I began watching "AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional 2020". I quickly realized that this course is nearly useless and does not go deep enough to pass the exam and understand all ins and outs. Here is my list for the DevOps Pro exam (I didn't watch all courses end to end as I skipped when I saw a repeating from another course):

  • acloud.guru "S3 Masterclass" online course - worth a watch for any exam
  • acloud.guru "AWS Developer Tools Deep Dive"  online course
  • acloud.guru "Using DevOps Automation for AWS Deployments"  online course
  • acloud.guru "Configuring and Monitoring Governance of AWS Deployments"  online course
  • acloud.guru  "Applying Infrastructure as Code and Serverless Technologies to AWS Deployments"
  • acloud.guru online course "AWS Cloud Services and Infrastructure - Cost Optimization Deep Dive"
  • acloud.guru online course "Event Driven Security"
  • "AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional 2020 - Hands-On!" from Stephane Maarek - THIS IS A MUST! I think this is the only course required, I wish I watched it first, but I found it only a couple of days before the exam.
  • On the practice exam, I only scored 55%, but it didn't change anything as I know that in the real exam I will get higher and I found Stephane Maarek's course after the practice exam. His course is a game-changer here.
  • I also scanned a few whitepapers, but it was not as useful, so I didn't waste much time on those.

AWS Certified Security - Specialty (SCS)

I know that any web professionals who develop apps like Microsoft Teams Jira Connector must understand the security and know what they do not know. So I wanted to find out the best practices and better understand all ins and outs of security on AWS. By the time I got here, I already watched the course dedicated to this exam, so I quickly re-watch some lessons, which were not fresh in my mind and focused more re:Invent and re:Inforge videos:

  • AWS re:Inforce 2019: The Fundamentals of AWS Cloud Security (FND209-R)
  • AWS re:Invent 2016: IAM Best Practices to Live By (SAC317)
  • AWS re:Invent 2019: Leadership session: AWS security (SEC201-L)
  • AWS re:Inforce 2019: Best Practices for Choosing Identity Solutions for Applications (FND215)
  • I also read the FAQs of KMS, IAM, S3, Organizations.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional

After watching so many courses, I decided to watch fewer courses this time and watch the following only:

  • Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional 2020 by Stephane Maarek - THIS IS THE MUST!

Results

How I passed 6 AWS exams in 2 months

With this preparation and focus, I scored 90%+ on all my exams - to my surprise. On a couple of occasions, I thought I failed, because I had to rush a lot.

My experience with Vue

The home-base Vue exam is crazy uncomfortable and stressful, because:

  • You cannot move your head around. I was asked to not look at the white wall, aside. Sometimes you do want to look somewhere while thinking. It is hard to watch on the screen only for 3-4 hours.
  • You cannot make any noise at all.
  • You cannot go to the bathroom, because your face cannot leave the webcam view. This limitation is inhuman. A couple of exams I finished 1h+ earlier because I needed to visit a bathroom.

Summary

It was a very useful spring on gain AWS knowledge and experience to continue providing customers with fast and secure products.

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