Mastering the AWS Security Specialty (SCS) Exam - A Quick Guide

Mastering the AWS Security Specialty (SCS) Exam - A Quick Guide

Mastering the Security Specialty Swiftly!


In this article, I will share my journey on how to successfully pass the AWS Certified Security Specialty (SCS) exam. From my experience, this ranks as one of the toughest exams right after the AWS Certified DevOps Engineeer Professional (DOP) Certification. However, with the right approach and resources that I'll discuss today, you'll be well on your way to succeeding just like I did on my first attempt.

Why It's Essential to Start with the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate

Solutions Architect Logo

First things first, if you’re aiming for the AWS Security Specialty certification, I highly recommend having the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate (SAA) under your belt. The foundational knowledge you gain from the Solutions Architect Associate is crucial. It not only prepares you with the basic principles of AWS architecture, but it also makes the uphill climb of the Security Specialty exam smoother.

Understanding the AWS Security Specialty Exam

Logo for Security Specialty

According to AWS, the Security Specialty exam validates your ability to design and implement security solutions on AWS. It checks your understanding in specialized data classifications, data protections, and the architectures for implementing security controls. I've highlighted some of the key points about the exam below.

Key Points About the Exam

Exam Overview Snippet

  • Type of Questions: 65 questions, both multiple choice and multiple response.
  • Duration: 170 minutes, nearly three hours to clear the hurdles.
  • Cost: $300 USD.
  • Testing Options: You can either take it online from the comfort of your home, or you can head to a testing center.

For more details, you can check out the AWS official page.

Also, be sure to review the exam guide as well. It is incredibly important for you to have a firm understanding of what you'll be tested over and what services will be omitted from the exam. You can find the exam guide here: Latest SCS Exam Guide

NOTE: The exam details and guide can change at any time, so always make sure you defer to the official page for more information.

Key Resources for Preparing the AWS Security Specialty Exam

Let’s dive into some top resources that helped me ace this exam. There are a total of four key resources that I highly recommend you all use to study for this exam (aside from the recommended whitepapers and such by AWS).

NOTE: Click the images within each section to be redirected to the source as you continue to scroll down.

Stephane Maarek's Ultimate AWS Certified Security Specialty Course

Placeholder for Stephane Maarek's course banner

This is one of the highest-rated courses out there for the Security Specialty exam. Stephane Maarek, known for his ability to demystify complex AWS concepts succinctly, has prepared around 16 hours of on-demand videos which are hosted on Udemy. The course also includes hands-on labs, essential for practical understanding. However, there is no sandbox environment provided, so you'll need to make sure you request your own AWS account. Using some AWS services during the course in your own account might cost a bit, but it’s a worthwhile investment for your preparation.

AWS Security Specialty Focus Labs by Whizlabs

Whizlabs SCS Labs

Hands-on experience is crucial, and that’s why I also recommend the AWS Security Specialty Focus Labs offered by Whizlabs. With around 54 labs tailored to various exam domains like Threat Detection and Identity Access Management (IAM), these labs are SUPER invaluable. Unfortunately, these labs are not free. These labs are priced at $65.95, so be sure to keep an eye out for sales to grab a good deal!

TutorialsDojo’s Practice Exams and Cheat Sheets

TutorialsDojo Practice Exams

TutorialsDojo is another excellent resource that I constantly use for AWS exams. Their practice exams are known to mirror the actual exam’s difficulty. In most cases, they are even harder than the actual exam. Prior to sitting for the exam, I highly recommend you are consistently scoring about an 80%. Consistently scoring above 80% on these can boost your confidence significantly prior to sitting for the exam, and the odds of you passing it on the first try are pretty high.

Tutorials Dojo Cheat Sheets

Furthermore, their cheat sheets also provide detailed notes on services that you'll come across in the exam, which I highly recommend you leverage as much as possible.

Leveraging Insights from Becky Weiss’s Talk

Becky's Talk

Becky Weiss’s talk, The Fundamentals of AWS Cloud Security, is a treasure trove of information covering basic network security, access management policies, and data encryption. Her ability to simplify complex topics into digestible bits is what makes her session a must-watch.

With that being stated, I implore you to watch this all the way through. I can guarantee you will have a much better understanding of how Cloud Security works within AWS and how to best leverage AWS services to protect your assets.

Key AWS Services to Focus On

Before you step into the examination room, you must ensure you’re well-versed in several critical AWS services. You'll want to pay very close attention to:

  • Identity Access and Management (IAM)
  • Key Management Service (KMS)
  • CloudWatch
  • CloudTrail
  • GuardDuty
  • Inspector
  • Organizations
  • Macie
  • WAF
  • SecurityHub
  • Detective
  • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
  • Config
  • Systems Manager (Parameter Store)

I am almost certain that you're going to see all of these on the exam, so make sure you pay close attention to each of these, and also, get some lab time in as well.


Thank you for following along in this guide. I hope it not only prepares you well for the AWS Security Specialty exam, but it also inspires you to leverage the power of AWS in securing applications and data. Until next time, happy studying, keep securing those networks, and stay curious!

Disclaimer: This blog post reflects my personal experiences and opinions. This blogs original content is based off of the following YouTube Video:

Quick Tips & Tricks On How To Pass the AWS Security Specialty Exam!

All images located in the blog post have been sourced from different places. Click on the image to get redirected to the original source.