Review By: Srikanth Mamidala
Time taken to Prepare
Detailed Review Of Preparation
Rather than just showcasing my achievement, I wanted to share my story about how I achieved it because, I searched for one before I started prepping for this. That's the question - How? This is a copy of my LinkedIn Article
This's where everything starts. My inspiration was to take the next best step in my career and become an architect. I wanted it as a gift to myself for my Birthday.
* Note: This is definitely the toughest exam. I have been using Amazon Web Services in my job for 2+ years and I have pretty good understanding of what is what. If you don't have such real time experience, I'd strongly recommend to start with SA-Associate Certification. Without a proper foundation, no course matters.
Unlearn and Revise: I took algoexpert.io subscription because of the exceptional way content is organized. That's the best platform in that category I have ever seen. Clement Mihailescu's SystemsExpert course is the starting point to revisit all computer science concepts. This is required for improving Design Thinking.
Unlearn first to relearn
Pick a training course: Adrian Cantrill's AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional course in Linux Academy is an exhaustive 52 hours of video lessons that explained everything I needed to know about AWS architectures. Flash Cards in linux academy were my friends to start my day every morning. There are other Flashcard mobile and web apps as well. I used these flash cards on mobile and read them every morning during - you know when ;)
Labs were crucial because, a good hands-on experience helped me map the architectures to reality. (Linux Academy course is deprecated now. Check out https://learn.cantrill.io/. There are other famous course providers like https://acloudguru.com/ but I recommend Adrain from personal experience)
Pick a comprehensive training course with labs and do keep aside 2 hours everyday for it.
Practice Tests: One and half month for video lessons and major step completed. Now it's time to test my knowledge. I didn't want to go for AWS white-papers yet because, I wanted to test my understanding. Purchased SkillCertPro Practice Tests and followed what I called - white paper on demand approach. After I take a test, I had gone through all the questions regardless of correct or wrong, noted down all the links mentioned in descriptions which I think I need to understand more. I used the next day to read all my notes and respective documents or white papers. Followed the same approach until I completed all the practice tests. I aimed for 98% in Practice tests. That's one round.
TIP: Read FAQs for each service and do not procrastinate any concept. Every topic matters.
And in second round, I started taking same tests in descending order of percentage that I acquired in first round - This helped me identify which topic I'm doing wrong repeatedly. (I wish I could have purchased WhizLabs Practice Tests as well).
TIP: If you want to read an AWS white-paper, do it first thing in the morning for clear focus. And these papers are very informative and useful.
Practice Tests are the key to time management and practicing quick comprehension of questions.
Revision: At this time I thought I was ready and about to schedule the exam. But I didn't realize that the course I used to study was old. Then I remembered Stephane Maarek's Udemy Course that I purchased sometime ago. I used last 2 days before going to exam to complete this course (skipping basic concepts that I already knew. But this course has great details). Quizzes at the end of each chapter and diagrams used in the videos were nifty.
A non-comprehensive revision course is important and helps in revisiting the concepts
At-least 1 Week Before Exam Day
* ESL+30 accommodation gives extra 30 minutes of time for non native English speakers. Trust me, if you are a non native speaker, you will NEED it. (You must call for scheduling PearsonVUE exam with ESL+30 accommodation)
* And I read everything about the exam in AWS website and how it is scored.
* Learned about Cert Prep in AWS website. I read all recommendations and solved practice questions.
* Exam Readiness course gave me an overview of what's expected. It's insightful.
* Scheduled the exam and followed ALL the guidelines mentioned in confirmation email. Do read all guidelines and FAQs links in email thoroughly.
Before you schedule your exam, read about ESL+30 accommodation for non native English speakers.
It's already long enough. I'm going to end this by explaining how it felt during the exam.
It was like my brain running on 99% CPU for 4 hours. Every question is a use case to visualize.
* Consider every aspect mentioned in question while arriving at an answer. Again - understand how the exam is scored
* I believed every question is a battle to win the war ultimately. Try to win as many as possible. There will be around 75 to 80. But don't get stuck on one for long.
* If you get stuck, first eliminate irrelevant answers. Now identify what best suits the use case. Use keywords technique for this. Eg: Search capabilities for websites - CloudSearch. Do Mark the relevant answer and move on. Flag it and review at the end. Remember no penalty for guessing.
* And remember, bigger battles are better rewarded. (You'd understand this when you read about how the exam is scored).
* Use 'Flag Question' feature efficiently to manage time and don't worry about how many you are flagging as long as you think you are marking relevant answers that you think.
Well! Everything I did for this is worth it. Because, I didn't just achieve the certificate,
1. I learned how to be a better Solutions Architect
2. I observed how efficiently I solved problems in my job during this preparation.
3. I improved my focus
4. I learned how determined can I be
5. And this preparation brought the LEADER inside me out.
Wishing you Good Luck and all the best for your Certification path! Here's mine :)
Benefits From Certification