My Journey to Passing the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Exam

My Journey to Passing the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Exam

A surefire way to pass the AWS SAA

Introduction

In this article, I will share my journey on how to successfully pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate (SAA) exam. My hope is that by sharing my experience, resources, study plan, and some crucial tips, I can help you navigate your way to acing this challenging certification exam.

My Certification

Comparing to the Developer Associate Exam

The SAA exam felt a lot tougher than the AWS Certified Developer - Associate (DVA), primarily due to the broader spectrum of services covered. Here's a breakdown of the key AWS services that you may want to focus on to prepare properly for the SAA exam:

  • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
  • Simple Storage Service (S3)
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • AWS Storage Gateway
  • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • EC2 Auto Scaling
  • CloudFormation
  • AWS Lambda, Simple Queue Service (SQS), and Simple Notification Service (SNS)
  • AWS GuardDuty and AWS Shield

Study Materials

Choosing the right study materials can make a significant difference in your exam preparation. Here are the resources that I found invaluable:

1. Stephane Maarek's Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Course

Stephane Maarek's Course

  • Platform: Udemy
  • Overview: This comprehensive course includes over 340 lectures, totaling approximately 27 hours long. Stephane Maarek does an excellent job explaining each service in detail, providing clear examples that are easy to remember. He explicitly highlights which topics will appear on the exam and offers hands-on lectures to reinforce the material.

Note: Some hands-on sessions may incur additional costs if you're using a free-tier account.

2. Jon Bonso's Practice Exams

Jon Bonso's Logo

  • Platform: TutorialsDojo Website - Practice Exams
  • Overview: These practice exams are tough but closely mimic the complexity and depth of the actual exam questions. Initially, I scored between 40s and 60s, which was incredibly demotivating. However, after thoroughly reviewing each question and consulting the TutorialsDojo AWS Cheat Sheets, my scores improved significantly.

3. Whizlabs AWS Labs

Whizlabs Logo

  • Platform: Whizlabs
  • Overview: For those who prefer a more simulated lab environment, Whizlabs offers a token-based system to access their labs. This can be a bit pricey, but it's a worthwhile investment for hands-on learning. If you're willing to invest in it, it's well worth it! You can find more information about their labs here: Whizlabs AWS Solutions Architect - Associate

Study Schedule

Consistency was key in my preparation. I spent about 2 hours each weekday and between 2-4 hours on weekends studying. This schedule allowed me to complete Stephane's course in just under a month. Afterward, I moved on to doing labs created by Whizlabs and taking practice exams.

The practice exams provided by Jon Bonso were instrumental in my success. Despite failing all his practice tests initially, I managed to pass the DVA with an 873 previously and felt confident tackling the SAA. I revisited and retook the practice exams, focusing on understanding each question and the associated concepts thoroughly. This strategy boosted my scores to between 70s and 80s on subsequent attempts.

Tips (or Tip) Before Taking the Exam

I decided to take the exam despite not consistently scoring above 85 on the practice tests. This risk paid off, though I would recommend others ensure they are scoring at least 85+ if they prefer a safer margin. So, if you are scoring less than an 85 on the practice exams and don't feel confident a week or so before you sit for the exam, I'd highly recommend you reschedule it for another 2-3 weeks.

Conclusion

Passing the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate exam is a challenging but achievable goal. With the right resources, a consistent study plan, and thorough practice, you can also succeed. I hope my experience inspires and guides you through your own certification journey.

Thank you for reading, and best of luck if you're pursuing this certification!


*Disclaimer: This blog post reflects my personal experiences and opinions. Also, this has been revamped, and was originally published on the June 6th, 2021 on my original website.