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AWS Architect Associate (SAA-C02)

rparthas profile image Rajagopal Parthasarathi ・4 min read

AWS is one of the hot certifications currently. I passed my AWS certification (SAA-C02) on Jan 03, 2021. The love for this certification started somewhere around 2014 but faded away. The love rekindled again in August 2020, and I started my preparation. Some stats

  • Number of Questions: 65
  • Total Duration: 130 minutes
  • Format: Multiple choice, multiple answers
  • Passing score: 72% (not clear what is the score for each question. Totally 1000 marks)
  • Exam Cost: $150 USD


I started my preparation with Acloud guru course on Udemy . This is something I bought long back but had not made progress on it. I started the course again on August 2020 and followed along with cloud gurus.

This gives a good whirlwind tour of the various topics needed for the exam. This covers the overall structure of the exam and the weightage for each topic. As Ryan Kroonenburg reiterates throughout the course, it is best to follow along and practice the content.

I had couple of years experience with AWS stack and the content still helped me to understand the wide ecosystem we have in AWS. A good understanding of read replicas and Aurora helped in my current customer engagement as well.

Next comes taking mock exams. This is most essential step and is the one recommended by all tutors. The above course comes with two practice tests. To cater to additional practice tests, I purchased the course from Jon Boso.

I also recommend his website for summary of the various topics. It helps to quickly refresh the various services and also the website provides comparison of the services. The comparison is very essential as many questions look for the most effective service based on the factors provided. This is very comprehensive and should help for most of us.

But for folks who want to further test the understanding and have kindle unlimited account I recommend Pratice tests ebook by Neal Davis. I took this 2 days before the exam date and taking these mock tests made me very comfortable with the actual exam.

In case you are looking for a book instead of the video course, I would suggest this book. I managed to gloss this before the exam. This is not substitute for actual practice in any way but can be more appealing for book readers.

Overally my preparation took around 4-5 months.

Booking the exam

I already had an exam voucher in lieu of me being a community builder. I created a AWS certification account to book the exam. After creating, you will be redirected to the link. I scheduled my exam using Pearson vue as the proctor for my test. I used the voucher to book a zero cost exam and decided to take the test from the comforts of my home.

Note: the website opens popups. So be careful to check them. I had blocked pop ups in firefox and had to constantly allow them.

Once you choose the test from home option, Pearson recommends downloading a software package which tests your system for proctoring. Basically it needs full control of your system to ensure no other program is running and keep the test in full screen. Program reported no issues.

Note: I used my company laptop to book the exam and intended to take the test in it.

Exam day

On the day of exam, as suggested I joined 15 minutes prior to the exam around 10:15 am. I had to upload government issued id proof(keep them ready). They are also listed as part of the exam readiness mail.

After that there are important instructions about the place you are taking the test. The desk should be free of any external accessories and food items. You should only have the laptop or desktop in which you are taking test. I had to move my external monitor and accesories. You have to upload the pictures of your test area so ensure that you have a clean desk or choose a place where you can take the test comfortably

At around 10:30 am, the proctor joined. The testing software was initiated remotely in my system but all I managed to see was a black screen. After five mins of troubleshooting, the proctor referred to someone from her team. This lead to 20 more mintues of troubleshooting.

Suddenly the new proctor found that the firewall was on and he asked me to run it off. Lo behold ... I was not able to. Since the laptop was enrolled in MDM, I cannot do that. Then we tried few more steps and at one point proctor suggested rescheduling the test. I had to retake it on separate day. We wanted to try few more things and after shutting my antivirus, it worked. (Dont do this)

I started my exam around 11:30 am. It was tense and anxious. I managed to finish the test within 90-100 minutes. It was not my comfortable exam but the end was worth the trouble. I saw the message at the end:

You have passed the test and score will be sent within a week

The most important lesson is do not take exam on your official laptop. If at all(I dont recommend) you insist, please ensure you have complete control of the system.

I got the detailed results within the next two days. It was a happy moment.

Good luck on your certification journey.

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