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Moiz Noorani
Moiz Noorani

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From Zero to AWS Certified in 2 Months!

Why AWS Certification?

The first question you want to answer for yourself is why do you want to get certified, since motivation will certainly play a big part in completing the certification. For me, the reason was that despite having 5 years of software development experience, I didn't get a chance to work on the cloud professionally.

I work full-time in Frankfurt, Germany, but I was applying for positions in Australia to join my family there, and most of the positions required experience with a cloud platform. There began the circle of (no experience <=> no job) for some of the positions that I was applying for. An AWS certification was suggested to me as a means to familiarize myself with the cloud and be ready to contribute at a new job without an extensive learning period.

Since I was working full-time, I couldn't spend more than 2 to 3 hours every evening after work. This was enough for me since it is difficult to retain any new knowledge after 2 to 3 hours of intense learning. And repetition is the key to learning. It took me 2 months to be ready for the Solutions Architect - Associate exam, starting with absolutely no knowledge of AWS.

Step 0

I started by enrolling into the Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate" course by Stephane Maarek on 09.10.2019. (I have no affiliations with Stephane Maarek and this is not a referral link). The course is sometimes listed at $200 but you can usually get it for $10 on the usual Udemy sales periods or searching for a coupon. This coupon should work right now: DEC_19_GET_STARTED. It was a pretty good course with theory, hands-on, quizzes, and a practice exam. I found Stephane to be a good instructor and he keeps the course updated with the new material.

Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate" course by Stephane Maarek

Step 1

I started simply by watching the videos every evening to get a feeling for AWS and its various services. I didn't take any notes yet and simply tried to understand and retain any knowledge from watching the videos. The course has 18.5 hours of videos so it will take at least 2 weeks to go through it. I didn't attempt the quizzes at the end of every section yet, and left it for later.

Step 2

After going through the videos, I went through the entire PDF lecture with ~518 slides that comes with the course. I created an AWS account (free for a year), and attempted the hands-on labs by following the step-by-step instructions in the slides. In addition, I used a mind mapping technique where I jot down all the important points, separated by AWS service, on a single A4 sheet (both sides). This helps me retain the information better, and recall it during the exam. It took 2-3 weeks to go through the entire PDF and understand the information deeply.

One side of my sheet
a4 sheet

Step 3

Now comes the part to test yourself. I started by attempting the quizzes at the end of each section in the Udemy course. I got the book AWS Solutions Architect Exam Guide by Joyjeet Banerjee and only did the questions at the end of each chapter. In addition, I found some other practice questions on YouTube and did them too. Next, I did the complete practice mock exam at the end of the Udemy course. Finally, I purchased the official AWS practice exam for $20. The official practice exam gives you the best feel for the actual questions on the exam.

Step 4

At this point, I was feeling quite confident and registered for the exam in a week's time. The associate exam costs $150. It has 65 questions that need to be completed in 130 minutes. You can get an additional 30 minutes if English is not your native language by registering on the Request Exam Accommodations option before registering for the exam.

You need at least 720 marks out of a 1000 to pass the test. The week before the exam, I revised the PDF lecture with the aid of my mind mapping sheet, and did more practice questions. As a tip, if you are not a morning person like me, I would suggest you to pick a time around noon for the exam so that you can focus better.

AWS Certified! 🥳

Finally, I passed the test on 4th December 2019 with a score of 880. I have started preparing for the DevOps Professional certification now, as it is one of the most in-demand skills at the moment. I have continued to apply for roles in Australia, but it has proved to be a challenge since companies need to go through the hoops of providing a visa sponsorship to potential candidates, and recruiters are simply not interested in overseas applicants. Hopefully it works out, finger crossed!

Top comments (10)

andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦 • Edited

Udemy marks down all courses to $10-$15.
People never pay the full price it's just a marketing tactic.

I have a free AWS Solutions Architect Course which has more content and can be completed in half the time to help you pass.

My competitors all seem to stretch their content to the 15-20 hour mark by talking slower or less streamline labs.

I'm the only one who chains their labs together into more complete projects since that's the role Solutions Architect which better prepares for Solutions Architect Professional.

Actually I had shot for three associates in the Solutions Architect and was planning to remove the content into the other courses but I didn't. It's possible to just make one study package for all three associates but nobody does this because you'd make less money.

With my course, most people pass in 2 weeks because I've streamlined the learning process.

It's frustrating because it's very hard to get my free courses and paid practice exams noticed over Stephane, Jon Bonso and ACloud Guru because they own the Udemy and Reddit traffic.

Luckily and FreeCodeCamp are where I have a voice.

simplesteph profile image
Stephane Maarek

Andrew, while I enjoy competition, let's try to remain objective and civil.

1) Your claim that your course is more complete is outright wrong. It's actually funny to see that some outlines you put on matched 1-to-1 the outlines of some of my courses. Glad to be of help!

2) Making a Solutions Architect course free, to me, is a big mistake. You had shared with me your ambitions to make a business that could take down ACloudGuru, you tried to publish in Udemy, didn't meet the success you were expecting, and now deciding to make your course free to... boost your brand and hubris maybe?

There's a reason why some courses are paid, although cheap. It's to ensure that authors are properly compensated for their original work, and encouraged to keep on creating good content and maintaining the actual ones.

Finally, YouTube is outright the wrong delivery model. To anyone reading this, the AWS exams evolve constantly and adjustments need to be made to videos to keep up with these changes.

If you watch a YouTube video of 10 hours, you run the risk of missing that additional content. On my Udemy courses, you'll always get the latest and greatest. Oh, and you get quiz questions and practice exams. The real cost of a course is not the $10 or $15 you'll invest by purchasing the course. It's in the 10s of your own hours you'll invest into taking the course. Choose wisely!

Bottom line Andrew, self-promotion is fine, but don't step where others are being recommended by former students. That's too borderline.

Best of luck with your ventures.

andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦 • Edited

1] I had course outlines before you publish your first course.

2] I've always wanted to be free, I had to publish to Udemy from pressures from my wife, my business partners and my co-founder. So I was appeasing them. I was happy with Udemy failure because it aligned all my interested parties to my original vision.

3] The Youtube videos come with a course outline in the comments on freeCodeCamp and on my Youtube they are all in a playlist. So you can keep track of them. And in my ExamPro platform it has a progress bar and quizlets and flashcards on every material. So I have much more content than any other provider. Right now this is paid but I'm actually opening this up to be free when I get a chance to code it in.

4] I reshoot videos frequently. I've reshoot how to create an account 5 times. I'm not afraid of making new content and I have the speed and means to do it. I've actually remade my Solutions Architect Associate course 3 times, and I'm going to refilm it again, we are working to refilm everything every year to keep this fresh.

mnoorani profile image
Moiz Noorani

I don't know about the other courses but Stephane's course is quite pacy and to the point. I actually did check out your course, specifically the cheat sheets. I think you've made a mistake in the NACL cheat sheet, inbound traffic does not automatically allow outbound traffic.

tkosanke profile image
Tim Kosanke

Hey Andrew, have you created a Developer - Associate course or do you have any plans to create one? I really enjoyed the Architect course and it definitely helped me pass my exam!

andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

I am shooting new labs for Developer and SysOps since there was an interface change to EC2 and other services in December. I'm hoping to have them out in a few weeks.

@Moiz - Where is it incorrect? Maybe you misunderstand and it needs re-wording.

Thread Thread
mnoorani profile image
Moiz Noorani

"Any allowed inbound traffic is also allowed outbound"?

Thread Thread
andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

Thanks corrected.

topitguy profile image
Pankaj Sharma

Very well done Moiz, many congratulations on getting certified. Wishing you all the best for DevOps professional certification and a call from employers in Australia!
Thank you for sharing the experience

ham8821 profile image
Emma Ham

well write up!! Thanks for the useful info! I have just started preparing for the AWS certified developer associate and this helped me a lot to get a clear idea of what it is! Thanks a lot!