My name is Sanjib Behera, and I gave my AWS Solutions Architect Professional exam last week (July 12, 2020). I am going to share my preparation journey for this exam (Actual time: 180 minutes for 75 questions). This is one tough exam and will test you to the core, hence it needs special preparation to crack the exam. The questions are mostly long, like 8-9 lines or at least more than 5 lines. This exam is very different from its associate counterpart, will involve at least 3 or 4 AWS services in every question. Hence going into this exam, you have to know which service complements other services, deep knowledge in all services is often recommended.
Content Domain for this exam
AWS Compute services(add ECS/EKS to it), Storage services, Migration services, Database services, Account, Governance & Security services, Networking services, and Analytical services are the main service domains which will feature most of the questions. So a deep knowledge of these services is a must and will certainly help to pass the exam. Try to learn the cloud keywords and which service goes with it or goes against it. For eg. if the question refers to durable storage from storage services, it should immediately hit you that S3 is the correct option and then we can go ahead to find the best possible correct option. Since in this exam, from the answer options, there will be 2 correct or sometimes 3 correct options provided in the MCQs, but we need to find the best possible correct answer only.
In MCQs, it can ask you to find a combination of 2 or 3 correct options. So it is very important to know which service work with another service seamlessly, like for eg. API Gateway with Lambda, DynamoDB streams with Lambda, CodeDeploy can be used to deploy in on-premises VMs, CloudFormation with OpsWorks etc. Another important suggestion is that from “New Solutions” Content domain, you may get some questions featuring Machine Learning services or IoT services, so try to learn the basics of these services and how they interact with compute services, storage services, security services, and the rest AWS services.
My suggestion will be if you are not an English native speaker, take the AWS accommodation of ESL+30 minutes. It really helped me to review all the 75 questions, as I finished my first iteration nearly around 150 minutes, so you need that extra time. Also during this pandemic times, I gave the exam from home, so I had nothing to draw the architecture diagrams, so each time, I had to read the question and then think about the diagram and try to resolve it with the given options. The given whiteboard was not handy at all for me since it often obstructed me from reading the long question.
Okay now to preparation part
First of all, read the “AWS Well-Architected Framework” whitepaper and also its 5 pillars whitepapers.
- Additionally, AWS has released some more whitepapers. Read them as well. HPC-Lens/IoT-Lens/Serverless-Applications-Lens/wellarchitected-Analytics-Lens/wellarchitected-Financial-Services-Industry-Lens/wellarchitected-Machine-Learning-Lens
- Some more useful whitepapers which I refered for the exam preparation:-aws_cloud_adoption_framework/AWS_Database_Migration_Service_Best_Practices/aws_security_incident_response/aws-building-fault-tolerant-applications/aws-disaster-recovery/aws-migration-whitepaper/aws-web-hosting-best-practices/microservices-on-aws/optimizing-multiplayer-game-server-performance-on-aws/overview-of-deployment-options-on-aws/performance-at-scale-with-amazon-elasticache/practicing-continuous-integration-continuous-delivery-on-AWS/running-containerized-microservices-on-aws/serverless-architectures-with-aws-lambda.
Don’t forget Social Media Platforms. Put on the notifications so that you do not miss important feed/news which can help you.
- AWS regularly feeds important lessons, videos, blogs, tutorials in Twitter, official Youtube channel, and on Linkedin. Follow them to get important feeds/news which may help in gaining extra knowledge. So put on the notifications.
- Read the AWS blogs, watch “This is my Architecture” videos since you will get questions from various domains and use-cases, you may not know which videos will help you.
- For deep-dive lessons on any service, search for deep-dive videos or watch AWS Re:Invent videos. Also, go through the AWS Knowledge center site, it will help you to understand what were other client issues for a particular service and what was the solution.
- The AWS Training site provides free online content for a different expertise level. Search for the free content and get trained from the AWS itself.
So after all these, I took the exam readiness video course by AWS training, and then for the first time I tried out Jon Bonso’s practice test (https://portal.tutorialsdojo.com/courses/aws-certified-solutions-architect-professional-practice-exams/#learndash-course-content). I highly recommend it to the guys who will take the SA PRO exam in future. The question quality is similar to the actual exam and all the questions are lengthy, so it gives you perfect practice before the actual one.
- Additionally, use your AWS free-tier account to good use. Practice as much as you can. Try to use the different services, and create a mini project using AWS services.
So I went for 30 nights 6-8 hours all night study mode (weekends were more longer more than 15 hours) and that was it (preparation details), what it took to crack this exam.
Good Luck on your exam!
Author: Sanjib Behra is a Full Stack technologist with multi cloud certified – 5x AWS Certified | 1x GCP Certified | 1x OCI Certified | 1x Azure Certified. You can connect with him on LinkedIn
More from Sanjib – Preparation Tips for AWS Developer Associate Certification.