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What is the brand new AWS SysOps Administrator Associate exam (SOA-C02) all about?

Julie Elkins
AWS Training Architect at A Cloud Guru / AWS Community Builder
・3 min read

I just sat for the new beta AWS Certified SysOps Administrator certification exam with the added hands-on labs, and it is a great exam with some AWSome labs! I think that the addition of adding labs will be testing real-world skills. So with this new style of the certification exam, it is going to be harder to pass with memorization of the content. Let me know what you think, but I believe memorization alone is no longer going to get you a pass for this certification exam.

The first part of the beta exam was was 55 questions, and then after the 55 questions, you get a chance to review your answers. Please hear this… once you complete your review of the questions and answers, you cannot return back to the questions at the end of the exam. So review your questions before moving onto the next section.

The second part of exam was the new addition, the labs!!! I had three labs in my beta exam!

For my first lab, I had to log in, then the AWS console loads, and you will see on the right hand side a given scenario with instructions. To get through the lab, you have to follow instructions, implement the tasks, click next, and then you move on to the second and third lab where you follow the same process.

My labs covered setting up a scalable application, configuring S3 buckets, and using AWS Config.

Overall, I found this section of the exam fun and the labs were great!! I do not want to talk too much about the labs themselves, but interested if you took the beta, did you get similar labs to mine? What were your labs?

I do believe the addition of these labs to the exam will make it harder to pass this exam on memorization alone, but if you have the foundational knowledge and hands on practice you should do great!

So let’s jump back and talk more about the first section and the questions covered. I would recommend being familiar with all the DNS Record types and when to use each type; CloudFront Security – OAI, public, private, signed URL/Cookie, and restricting direct S3 Access; for EFS understand the availability, latency, and architecture; understand pre-signed URLs for S3; understand VPC Flow Logs, ALB logs, S3 logs, CloudTrail and CloudFront logs too; be able to troubleshoot EC2 instances – routing, security, IPs; be able to architect for High Availability as well as when and how to use auto scaling groups; know how to install the CloudWatch agent on an EC2 instance; know how to configure gateway endpoints; understand Lambda and Step Functions; I had a few questions around restricted S3 buckets and how to secure them; I also saw a question around protecting your S3 bucket from accidental deletion; know S3 storage classes as well as encryption, versioning, and lifecycle policies; for CloudFormation know your CF template structure along with cross stack references and nested stacks; as well as how to work with templates across regions; know how to diagnose storage performance as well as EBS and EFS storage performance issues; understand ElasticSearch architecture, migration, and high availability; for networking, understand NACLs, Security Groups, ports, the ephemeral port range, and how your set up affects your traffic; also understand DDoS protection, AWS Shield, and the AWS WAF; I also had a question on spot fleet around the features of spot fleets and how they can work along side on-demand instances; I would definitely review your RTO and RPO and know how to architect; know KMS and IAM policies; also be familiar with developer environments; for access, know how to set up cross account access, access for people without an account, as well as SSO and directory services; and then of course, I had three questions around *cost optimization. Cost Optimization is making its way into all the new updated exams!

And remember, I’m here to help, so if you have any questions please just ask! I’m always happy to help! Check out more at AWSJulie.com

I recommend to get started preparing to ace this certification, first choose your training course, and then second, get your hands dirty: use our hands-on labs or start building in your own AWS account!

Discussion (6)

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Ryan Dsouza

Hi Julie 👋

Thanks for the amazing write-up! I will be giving this exam next month and I have a couple of questions.

How was your experience with the UI for the labs? Also would you be creating a study group for this exam?

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Julie Elkins Author

Hi Ryan, thanks so much! I added an extra "." that was not needed, but fixed it now! Thank you for letting me know!!

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Julie Elkins Author

The labs were a lot of fun! I found them similar to our hands on labs at A Cloud Guru. I am not sure about a study group; I am trying to create a study group for the CSA exam right now, but Faye Ellis teaches the SysOps course, so I can check with her and see if that is in the works! If you have more questions, I am always happy to help!!

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Ryan Dsouza

Thanks a lot :)

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Julie Elkins Author

I spoke to Faye, and she is not sure either, but is going to check into it. But she gave me this link that you can use acloud.guru/forums/aws-csysops-201...

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Ryan Dsouza

Awesome! Thank you :)