My biggest challenge is memorization of key information.
I started studying way back in April 2018 and I only completed all my Associates in Sept 2018.
Two of the exams were upgraded during this period so I had to restudy. I could have sat on the old exams but I wanted to be up-to-date with latest knowledge. I had lost my wallet the day before my first exam and I had to scramble at 8am to get government ID. Its was stressful.
At the associate levels I found the practice exams by all providers disappointing and didn't cover the subdomains. So I ended up creating my own exam questions for every sub-domain.
I found ACloudGuru's practice exams frustrating as I kept forgetting to multi-check and I was getting low scores because of failing poorly worded questions that would never occur on the actual exams. This made me think I was not ready but when I went to the test center I exceeded well beyond my expectations.
My second biggest problem was remembering information. I tried using various flashcard systems even the one you suggested. I don't know of any online service that actually implements space repetition learning to ensure long term retention. LinuxAcademy kind-of does space repetition learning. I sunk in 20 hours trying to use Anki, Mnemosyne though found the UI cumbersome and data entry tedious.
I ended up coding my own flashcard system which would map to my previous created test questions. So I take my own practice exam and then the questions I got wrong would then create a practice deck to focus on where I was weak. Then it would send me emails whenever to remind to practice my cards.
LinuxAcademy has flashcards but they are so poorly written. The front side would not be clear what the back side might be asking and then you flip over their cards to see giant copies of text. You can make your own decks in LinuxAcademy but wouldn't it be nice if their flashcards were so good you didn't have do all that manual labour?
Currently I'm studying for my Pro Certifications and I think I'm going to go for both at the end of this month. Through Whizlabs I'm getting 78-82% on their practice exams for both Pro certs. However I don't trust my passing score on Whizlabs because when I take the official practice exam I only score at 56%. Discussion on ACloudGuru forums suggest you need to do more than just Whizlabs.
Watching the Deep Dive Videos for ReInvent was super useful.
I already deploy apps though my work via Opsworks, CloudFormation and Beanstalk so I already had that practical knowledge. I think its important to learn to deploy for all 3 will a real app.
For Pro Certs I read all the AWS whitepapers and then I summarized them to ensure I had retained that information. Then I created flashcards on each whitepaper and then I created a quiz.
ACloudGuru Pro courses were useless. They are great for associates but they need to work on their Pro material.
One thing that helped me accelerate my learning was to talk to people who already hold AWS Pro Certifications and have a free form conversation. I had 5 conversations and this helped get context on some concepts that simply would have required me hours of study.
AWS Business Support isn't high quality but its highly available where I can be talking to someone in 10-20mins while I work through a practical problem. There would be some dumb configuration issue that I could spend 5-6 hours where they would solve it in 15mins keep traction on my learning.
I'm starting to open up my personal study tool for free privately to developers in exchange the use the system to help me refine it for eventual launch.
If you're interested Helen sign up and I grant you access to my current content if you are on path to go for Pro Certifications. I would really appreciate it:
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