** Disclaimer: All the details mentioned below are true to the best of my knowledge. If you are still unable to clear the exam, it is your luck (i.e., lack of preparation!)
Note: This not so funny disclaimer is only to tell you not to rush and give sufficient preparation time before attempting the exam! 🙂 **
Bit of my background: I’m currently working as a performance engineer for a migration project from on-prem to AWS; so, I do get on the job experience. I have cleared AWS Solution Architect, SysOps, and Developer Associate exams before, so well versed with AWS services and basics. Due to the nature of work, I hardly get time (max 1 hr per day) to prepare for the exam during weekdays. Whatever the little time I get, I used it to go through the course and AWS DevOps blogs. And utilized two full weekends in the last two months to give practice papers and to clearly understand the reasoning at the end (which is very important). Watched a few AWS re:Invent videos here and there while having dinner. Those are just out of interest and not individually as exam preparation.
Before the exam:
- I think you must go through the course twice. First time in detail, and do take notes on the key points. The second time maybe 1 or 2 days before the exam; you can browse through quickly by setting to 1.5x video speed and slow down when you find the topic which might have been forgotten or unclear.
- I used course by Stephane Maarek – Udemy course used for preparation
- And Practice questions
- You can also go through the free Exam readiness course by AWS in training and certification portal. Don’t forget to utilize the free practice exam (do this at least a week before) and a 50% discount coupon for the next exam received as a benefit when you have passed the previous AWS exam. I know some of my friends were unaware of it and paid extra.
- If you are still not confident enough, you can also do the practice exams from Whizlabs and the one from Jon Bonso (tutorial dojo) in Udemy. I have done this during my Associate level exams, and they are equally good.
Practice exams help you to gauge your current level of understanding so that you can plan the exam date accordingly.
Since time is one of the constraints, you can take an extra 30 mins if you are not a native English speaker. I would recommend opting for it even if you are good at English. You can always end the test if you are able to finish early; this will at least give that extra cushion. In the AWS certification portal, request for accommodation and choose ESL +30 to gain an additional 30 mins for the subsequent exams.
During the exam:
You might have heard this multiple times from many; certainly, AWS Professional level exams are very lengthy and comprehensive. You need patience to sit for so long, read through those lengthy questions and options, map architecture mentally (if you are good at visualizing quickly else write it down), and choose the correct option. Don’t spend much time on one tricky question, if it is taking more than 2 – 3 mins flag for review and move on. Keep 20 – 30 mins at the end to review the flagged options and choose the best possible option you think.
Now, in terms of test questions coverage during my exam. Primarily exam questions were focussed around:
CloudWatch Events, Logs subscription, Lambda (for events response), Elastic Beanstalk (hooks, CLI, commands and container commands), ASG (lifecycle hooks), CodeCommit (correct IAM policy to be set), CodeBuild (to build and test scenarios), CodeDeploy (both on-prem and AWS deployment), CodePipeline (to orchestrate), SSM (all possible combinations), AWS Config, Kinesis, S3, DynamoDB, ECS, Elastic Search, X-Ray, DR (Multi-Region, RPO and RTO), AWS Organization (OUs, Multi-Account) and combination of all of these depending on the scenario.
After the exam:
Make sure to share your certificate on LinkedIn; you deserve all the appreciations that come after. And please do help others by sharing your certification journey.