The goal of writing this article is twofold. One, because I have just completed the Cloud Practitioner Certification, I want to share how I prepared for the exam while everything is still fresh in my mind. Two, if this post can be a helpful resource or serve as encouragement for anyone else considering getting the certification, that would be great! So without further ado, let's get to it!
The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Cloud Practioner exam is the first level of AWS certifications i.e. a foundational certification. It is a great starting point for individuals to gain "an overall understanding of the AWS cloud".
As stated above, this certification is a great introduction to "The Cloud". More and more companies are moving to take advantage of the cost benefits, reduced hardware maintenance, and global infrastructure of cloud-based services.
While the Official AWS Exam Guide details:
- What you need to know (broken down under different domains)
- Links to official training courses and materials
- Response Types
- How the exam is scored
- 65 Questions
- 100 minutes
- Price of the exam is $100 USD
- Two styles of questions: multiple choice (one correct answer) AND multiple responses (two correct answers out of five)
- Exam is scored from 100 to 1000 and you need at least a 700 to pass
- Unanswered questions are scored as incorrect and there is no penalty for guessing
- You can take the exam at home or at a testing center
My background: I have about one year of experience working as a full-time developer. My company does use AWS, but my personal experience with AWS Services was pretty limited. I had worked with EC2 instances, S3 buckets, and some of the IaaS (infrastructure as a service) tools, but would still label myself a beginner.
Time to Study: I spent approximately a week and a half preparing for the exam. I saw individuals recommend anywhere from 10 to 20 hours of study time depending on one's familiarity with AWS.
Resources (aka The Good Stuff):
These blog posts were well-organized and extremely helpful in my preparation.
- Firsthand exam experience from Steep Technologies. I just found it nice to hear someone else's experience.
- Topics to Study By Peter Fessel. I will say this, every topic he mentions was on my exam, but there were a few topics on my exam that he did not mention.
- (Almost) Everything You Need to Know from Andrew Brown. Honestly, shout out to Mr. Brown. This video got me 70% of the way there. After watching it, I didn't feel like I needed to watch anything else. I just made flashcards and did practice exams. I also didn't need to read all the white papers although I did skim some of them for more information on concepts I was struggling with such as the 5 Pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework
Practice, Practice, Practice:
Once, I felt like I had a good foundation my approach was to drill and then test. For me, that meant making flashcards and then doing practice exams.
For my flashcards, I used a program called Anki, which automates spaced-repetition, allows you to sort cards based on how well you feel you know the material, and a has bunch of other pretty cool features. I also really like Quizlet. If you go the flashcard route, I would suggest making the cards yourself as I believe that making the cards helps with retaining the info.
For practice exams, I completed the first four exams from Udemy (I found many people who stated that the last two practice exams were out of scope for this test), 20 free questions from Whizlabs and the four practice exams also from Whizlabs, and 10 free questions from AWS.
The Udemy practice exams were structurally more similar to the test than the WhizLab questions because Whizlab had questions where three out of five answers might be correct, but the exam only ever asked for two correct answers at most. I still really liked Whizlabs because each explanation linked directly to resources on the AWS site with more information. I also think the level of difficulty of the Whizlabs questions was great too. On the exam, there were questions that were close enough to the practice exams that I might not have gotten correct otherwise.
In total, I spent $117.94:
- $100 for the exam
- $7.95 for the WhizLab Practice Exams (on sale at the time)
- $9.99 for the Udemy Practice Exams (on sale at the time)
Some people recommended the ACloudGuru course, but at the time I looked the subscription was for $299/year or $49/month. I've heard really good things about this platform for the associate level courses and beyond, but I felt confident that I could spend less and still do well on the exam so I opted not to enroll.
Whew! Okay, we made it to the end. Thanks for sticking with me. I hope that you found this article helpful and best of luck on your certification exam and more importantly, your AWS Cloud journey!