Review By: Carlos Cândido
Time taken to Prepare
Detailed Review Of Preparation
My (real) journey with AWS started at work.
My new project was helping in some AWS administrator tasks on the local company account. This was on May 2019. Because of that, they provided me with official AWS in-class training about SysOps. It was 3 days 7 hours each. Honestly, I lacked the skills to understand part of it due to my reduced know-how about all AWS Services. At the time of the lecture, my current knowledge was some CodeCommit, EC2, used some SDK and CLI, created a DynamoDB table - basic stuff that everyone does on a free-tier account. I did my best to understand but understood that the ocean was vast bigger than I imagined.
After the in-class I went back to my job and I actually did something with what I've learn on the training (things about interacting with all EC2 instances to change something) but I started to do other activities, like interacting with lambda functions, some SNS and CloudWatch. More than that, I started working with terraform and CloudFormation. That helped me on understanding many services and how they connect to each other. Got to give some credit to my senior at the time, he understood very well the concepts of VPC/Subnet/IGW/NAT and everything related so I try my best to learn from him.
When that project finished, I went to client and my hands-on died there. Actually, I had some home project but stopped it due to unexpected billing. That project was built only with CloudWatch alarms (every month, every day, every min) and lambda functions. Not worth talking much.
I'm already in October (5 months later) and I thought: I have to schedule my exam or I'll never make it. After some days thinking about it, I've decided to schedule it to the December - 2 months preparation is enough for this.
Since I'm not very good on reading slides my other option was taking more lectures so I enter udemy and bought some 4,5 start or more lectures. Got two, one about aws architect and other about aws Developer. I start reading the underlying topics before buying them and the interception was very small.
From that day on my nights where on Udemy watching videos one after the other (sometimes I skipped, I’m human too). If I didn't understand something I go back and watch it again until I do. If I felt that I was distracted during the lectures I just take the quiz and check if it is true. I did 0 hands-on on my computer. Only watched them doing it.
In parallel, I started answering some questions of the book - I had the answers hidden, did all questions of 1 section (e.g. EC2) and then checked what failed and checked why. If I didn't understand why, google it until I do. Tracked the scores for each section and try to master them all.
Day after day I learned something new, something useful, something confusing, etc. My scores on the questions where passing from 8 to 18 and full score (usually its 20 questions per section).
At one point I've decided I should book right away the Cloud Practitioner so I've payed it and booked it 1 week after the first one (20 Dec).
Getting to the exam date (SysOps, 12 Dec), I've already had much time of videos, a way way far knowledge of when I've started and I felt I was (kinda) ready.
The exam was hard except the sysops questions – very basic actually. Very hard on the network and security and regular difficult on EC2 questions. I was so nervous that when I start review had only 20 min left, which is hard since I had so many Review marked questions.
In the end the screen show “PASS”, stress is gone and I’m already thinking: maybe I know more than I think. Anyway, exam results came out and by my math, 2 questions and I’ve failed the exam. I looked to that chart with topics and area of improvement, and only 1 bar was on the need improvement side. The % of questions was exactly the score I’ve missed.
Now its focus on Cloud Practitioner (which its more basic). I’ve actually over study it because I’ve keep watching my videos and they are way over. It was easy “PASS”. Was more about shared responsibility; Which aws team you call for <something>. Not much about technology.
Having two certifications it is time to think about when take the others. I was in Asia, moving back to my country after New Year so there where some conditions. I could not let Jet Lag or something of that sort get in the way.
From December until 10 January night I did more of the same but now using the Developer videos on Udemy. Here I really learned a lot. It is such an amazing experience watching all those small services coming together in managed services. Very nice topics. I also focused on the topic I failed the most on the SysOps certification – I was sure that those questions could come out again.
On the week of the certification I was so tired of watching so much videos but I knew that my knowledge is incredible vaster than ever. I felt like I could help anyone migrating to cloud and improve they application. When I got out of the exam, with another “PASS”, I wasn’t surprise. Got surprised when score came out and understood that there is a subject I totally failed (like SysOps). But, like SysOps, it’s just something I need to study more for the professionals.
The 4th and final, solutions architect, was on the 13 January, 2 days after the previous one. Was hard yes, but was just an exam like the SysOps without the SysOps questions. I knew that I was going to probably fail but I was buffed and just felt right timing. I was right so it wasn’t as scary as it could be. Anyway, I’ve finished it in 50 minutes using 40 going answer by answer double checking. In the end, another “PASS” screen. Like all the previous ones, on the Score analysis an area for improvement.
Big conclusion for me – Having a score 750/800/850 score in the exam is a good score – good enough to pass it. AWS is a very big system and the more you know the better. Yes, for some certifications you should see specific stuff, but knowledge is power. You might don’t know what is a certain service, but if you learn a service that somehow uses the service you don’t know, you start knowing it better and sometimes for an associate level certification using the type of knowledge is enough to pass.
Never the less, I recognize that my scores could be better but with 3/4 months hands-on + 30 hours of videos + 130 Q/A I think I did pretty good.
Benefits From Certification