Time for some changes in the AWS suite of 12 certifications. Here is a quick recap from the previous blog. There are two changes for existing certification and a new certification that is coming out soon.

  1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate has a new version SAA-C02. Check out our blog on the changes breakdown. Coming March 23, 2020.
  2. AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty (formerly AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty) has a new version DAS-C01. Coming April 13, 2020.
  3. AWS Certified Database – Specialty is a new exam. Coming April 6, 2020.

In this blog, we will stress on the pivot from AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty (BDS-C00) to AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty (DAS-C01) examination. The beta exam is done with and many people have received their score. This means it’s time for the real deal.

The registration for this exam began on March 17, 2020 and the first day to take this exam is April 13, 2020. This means the last day to take BDS-C00 is April 12, 2020. AWS has changed the last day to take BDS to June 30, 2020. There are already a lot of materials and practice tests available online for the older exam.

Changes to the exam content and Recommended AWS Knowledge

  1. Still a pass or fail exam
  2. There are still multiple choice and multiple response questions
  3. Unanswered questions are scored as incorrect; there is no penalty for guessing
  4. Some questions are unscored; these do not affect your overall score and are there gather statistical information
  5. Results for the examination are reported as a score from 100-1,000, with a minimum passing score of 750 and there is no requirement to pass the individual section, only the overall examination. (NEW)
  6. Apart from the 2 years of hands-on experience, AWS now recommends a minimum of 5 years of experience with common data analytics technologies for this certification. (NEW)

As the exam guide suggests, this certification is intended for individuals who perform in a data analytics-focused role. I believe AWS has made the right move by making Big Data to be a part of Data Analytics certification and not be a certification by itself. This makes sense, considering each AWS analytic service is purpose-built for a wide range of analytics use cases such as interactive analysis, big data processing using Apache Spark and Hadoop, data warehousing, real-time analytics, operational analytics, dashboards, and visualizations.

A quick snapshot of popular analytic services that you should be familiar for this exam:

Type Service
Interactive Analytics Amazon Athena
Big Data Processing Amazon EMR
Data Warehousing Amazon Redshift
Real-Time Analytics Amazon Kinesis
Operational Analytics Amazon Elasticsearch Service
Dashboards and Visualizations Amazon QuickSight
Data Lake AWS Lake Formation
Apache Kafka Amazon Managed Streaming for Kafka (MSK)

Side by side changes to the topics covered for the exam

Let us first draw side by side comparison of the changes in the exam format:

AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty (BDS-C00)
AWS Certified Data Analytic – Specialty (DAS-C01)
Collection (17%)
– Determine the operational characteristics of the collection system
– Select a collection system that handles the frequency of data change and type of data being ingested
– Identify the properties that need to be enforced by the collection system: order, data structure, metadata, etc.
– Explain the durability and availability characteristics for the collection approach (removed from new exam)
Collection (18%)
– Determine the operational characteristics of the collection system
– Select a collection system that handles the frequency, volume, and source of data
– Select a collection system that addresses the key properties of data, such as order, format, and compression
Storage (17%)
– Determine and optimize the operational characteristics of the storage solution
– Determine data access and retrieval patterns
– Evaluate mechanisms for capture, update, and retrieval of catalog entries
– Determine appropriate data structure and storage format
Storage and Data Management (22%)
– Determine the operational characteristics of a storage solution for analytics
– Determine data access and retrieval patterns
– Select an appropriate data layout, schema, structure, and format
– Define a data lifecycle based on usage patterns and business requirements
– Determine an appropriate system for cataloging data and managing metadata
Processing (17%)
– Identify the appropriate data processing technology for a given scenario
– Determine how to design and architect the data processing solution
– Determine the operational characteristics of the solution implemented
Processing (24%)
– Determine appropriate data processing solution requirements
– Design a solution for transforming and preparing data for analysis
– Automate and operationalize a data processing solution
Analysis (17%)
– Determine the tools and techniques required for analysis
– Determine how to design and architect the analytical solution
– Determine and optimize the operational characteristics of the analysis
Analysis and Visualization (18%)
– Determine the operational characteristics of an analysis and visualization solution
– Select the appropriate data analysis solution for a given scenario
– Select the appropriate data visualization solution for a given scenario
Visualization (12%)
– Determine the appropriate techniques for delivering the results/output
– Determine how to design and create the Visualization platform
– Determine and optimize the operational characteristics of the Visualization system
Data Security (20%)
– Determine encryption requirements and/or implementation technologies
– Choose the appropriate technology to enforce data governance
– Identify how to ensure data integrity
– Evaluate regulatory requirements (removed from new exam)
Security (18%)
– Select appropriate authentication and authorization mechanisms
– Apply data protection and encryption techniques
– Apply data governance and compliance controls

Summary of the differences:

DomainBig Data
(Old Exam)
Data Analytics
(New Exam)
Domain 1: Collection17%18%+1%
Domain 2: Storage and Data Management17%22%+5%
Domain 3: Processing17%24%+8%
Domain 4: Analysis and Visualization (combined in new)29%18%-11%
Domain 5: Security20%18%-2%

I am surprised that Analysis and Visualization has gone down from a combined score of 29% to just 18%. In an era where everything is comprehended better using a visualization, I’m not sure about AWS rationalization of reducing this section.

Based on folks who took the beta exam, below are some tips for this new exam in terms of what to expect:  

Domain1: Collection – It is noted that the Kinesis and Managed Streaming Kafka is absolutely must know for this section with less emphasis on IoT now. How much of that you would see in the real exam is yet to be known.

Domain2: Storage and Data Management – Scenario based questions on S3, Glue Data Catalog, Redshift are common for this section. Not too many questions on DynamoDB and should not be ignored.

Domain3: Processing – Must know for this section is AWS Glue, S3, Redshift processing, EMR – on which you might get scenario-based questions. Because this domain introduces an assessment point focusing on automation, expect to see some questions there.

Domain4: Analysis and Visualization – Without a doubt you need to be familiar with Amazon QuickSight. Although it is one section in the new exam, the points covered are just a condensed version of the old exam.

Domain5: Security – Encryption S3, EBS (server side and client side) is the name of the game. You might see questions on integration with AD.

With so many changes, time will tell which training providers will have the best course materials. Below are some important links that can help you for your preparation.

AWS Whitepapers

Sample questions from AWS

Meanwhile, the AWS preparation journeys shouldn’t change as much and there is still a lot of overlap between AWS BigData and AWS Data Analytic Certification. Remember to check our website reviewNprep.com for all the AWS BigData preparation journey that can help you not only pass AWS certifications but ace the exam.

That’s it folks. Hope you found this article useful. Also check out our previous blog on changes to AWS Associate Architect Certification SAA-C02.

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Author: Haman Sharma is founder of reviewNprep.com. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.