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AWS - Study logs of AWS 5x certified

takakd profile image Takahiro Kudo ・7 min read

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Finally, I have passed AWS associate and professional certified🎉.

When I started studying, I wanted to know the study log of other people, but I couldn't find that many. There are many articles on how to study, though.

Is it only me who wants to know?

So I will share my study logs, in the hope that it will be helpful to you who are also trying to get AWS certification.

Background 🙋

My background at the start of the study.

  • Programming experience: 10 years; Windows Apps 4y, Web Apps 6y.
  • AWS experience: 4 years.
  • Experience with AWS services: EC2, Route53, EBS, IAM, VPC, CloudFront, S3.

Results 🏆

Date Result Certified
Dec. 2017 Passed Cloud Practitioner
Jan. 2018 Failed Solutions Architect - Associate
Sept. 2019 Passed Solutions Architect - Associate
Oct. 2019 Passed Developer - Associate
Nov. 2019 Passed SysOps Administrator - Associate
May 2020 Passed DevOps Engineer - Professional
May 2020 Failed Solutions Architect - Professional
July 2020 Passed Solutions Architect - Professional

Study logs 📈

1. Cloud Practitioner

Passed: Score 710

I had a little experience using EC2, EBS, S3, Cloudfront, and Route53.
Additionally, I had used VPC and IAM, but my grasp is 50%.

I read a training video; I had known about 70% of it.
https://www.aws.training/Details/eLearning?id=29804

I read a textbook of Solutions Architect - Associate only once.
https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B07R1H87Y1/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

I tried to get an overview of AWS services because I had not used some services like Redshift and EMR.
I didn't memorize the details of the services.

2. Solutions Architect - Associate

Failed: Score 650

I took an AWS Practice Exam three weeks before the exam and failed it.

I read a textbook of Solutions Architect - Associate once.
Also, I read a chapter on an AWS service that I had not used normally.

I read some AWS webinar documents once about AWS services that appeared in the textbook.
https://aws.amazon.com/jp/aws-jp-introduction/aws-jp-webinar-service-cut/

Sorry, I cannot find ones in languages other than Japanese.

AWS services appeared in the textbook
VPC, CloudFront, Route53, EC2, ELB, CloudWatch, CloudTrail, EBS,EFS, RDS, Redshift, KMS, CloudHSM, ACM, SQS, SWF, Step Function, CodeCommit, CodeBuild, Elastic Beanstalk, OpsWorks

I had not taken notes, but I read it aloud sometimes.

3. Solutions Architect - Associate

Passed: Score 755

My experience using AWS services had not changed much, even though it had been a year since the previous exam. However, my grasp of VPC and IAM had improved, although I had not memorized the details of the service settings.

The study method had changed a little.
I had read the webinar documents as I have done in the past, but I read those more intently than before and noted at that time.
I didn't review my note. Perhaps writing it helped me to make sense that.
I had noted three times about services that I had not understood very well. Otherwise one time.

I had taken AWS Practice Exam a week and two weeks before the exam.
Both of them had been passed.

4. Developer - Associate

Passed: Score 910

I repeatedly solved “Practice Tests” on whizlabs.com: It's a service where you can solve a practice quiz.
Used only "Practice Tests" and did not use "Online Courses".

Solve a question in "Practice Tests" and understand the reason for right and wrong.
If I had not known the reasons for the answer, reviewed the AWS webinar documents related to the AWS service that appear in the answer.
If the AWS webinar documents are not available, I searched articles about AWS services by Google.

I went through "Free Test" and "Practice Test 1, 2, 3" just once. The total number of questions was 210.
The result was about 65% to 70%.
Only Passed "Practice Test 1" and failed the other tests.

Also, I took AWS Practice Exam and passed it.

5. SysOps Administrator - Associate

Passed: Score 856

Continued to study with whizlabs.com.

I solved a total of 210 questions on "Free Test" and "Practice Test 1, 2, 3", and went through each test just once.
Below are the numbers for each test.

  • Free Test: 1 time
  • Practice Test 1: 5 times
  • Practice Test 2: 2 times
  • Practice Test 3: 1 time

The result for the first attempt for each test generally varied from 50% to 86%.
I was worried, so I solved the same questions several times.

6. DevOps Engineer - Professional

Passed: Score 750 😅

Continue to study on whizlabs.com.

I solved a total of 255 questions on "Free Test" and "Practice Test 1, 2, 3", and went through each test just once.
Below are the numbers for each test.

  • Free Test: 2 times
  • Practice Test 1: 3 times
  • Practice Test 2: 2 times
  • Practice Test 3: 1 time

The result for the first attempt for each test generally 40%.

DevOps question statements were longer than Associate ones and a combination of multiple AWS services.

I also started to use "Anki" to take notes.
Refer https://apps.ankiweb.net/ about "Anki".

I wrote down AWS service name and the questions overview on the front side of the cards in Anki app.
On the backside of it, the details of AWS service(excerpt from the summary of AWS webinar documents) and the question's answer.

Example1: AWS services

  • Front: DynamoDB
  • Back: It's so-called NoSQL. It can select Provision or On-demand. Provision can specify Read/Write individually, but On-demand cannot.

Example 2: Question's overview

  • Front: An application to be Serverless and to increase availability. How to design it?
  • Back: The basic architecture of Serverless is a combination of API Gateway, Lambda, and DynamoDB. When the Serverless condition is not present, the combination of SQS and Auto Scaling can also be used. When the cost due to the throughput of DynamoDB is high, there is a way of reducing it using SQS and DAX.

Reviewed cards with Anki app on my phone while moving such as on my way to work.
Also, I reviewed cards all over again while going to the exam room.

The exam was very challenging, and I had no confidence in whether I passed.

7. Solutions Architect - Professional

Failed: Score 712

Continued to study in the same way as DevOps.
Lots of services appear in "Practice Test", therefore I found it difficult. However, The result for the first attempt for each test generally 70%.

The score was moderately good, therefore I tried to lower the number of questions to be solved and see if I cloud pass the test.

I solved a total of 160 questions on "Diagnostic Test" and "Practice Test 1", and went through each test just once.
Below are the numbers for each test.

  • Diagnostic Test: 3 times
  • Practice Test1: 3 times

The result was failed.

I was not sure I did it well when I was solving the exam questions in the exam room, and I realized the lack of knowledge.

8. Solutions Architect - Professional

Passed: Score 779

Continue to study on whizlabs.com.

I found my understanding of each AWS service was lack, so I reviewed services again.
Changed the app from "Anki" to "Mac note" because it was difficult to organize into one answer per one question in Anki app.

I solved a total of 535 questions on "Free Test", "Diagnostic Test" and "Practice Test 1, 2, 3, 4, 5", and "Final Test".
Below are the numbers for each test.

  • Free Test: 2 times
  • Diagnostic Test: 5 times
  • Practice Test 1: 4 times
  • Practice Test 2: 4 times
  • Practice Test 3: 4 times
  • Practice Test 4: 4 times
  • Practice Test 5: 4 times
  • Final Test: 1 time

First I went through each test. I wrote down the name of AWS services that appeared in test and reviewed AWS webinar document of each service.
When reviewing, I made a note on Mac note app for each service and wrote down the summary of the AWS webinar document. Also, I added the question brief of those services and the answer to that to the note.

On the day of the exam, I reviewed those notes overall again.

The number of notes is 82; One note corresponds to one AWS service.
There were 207 lines in the note with VPC that has a lot of contents, and about 10 lines with AWS Backup that has a few contents.

Example: AWS VPC
Component: IGW, NAT, Subnet, and so on are called.
VPC is a network space. Subnets are defined on VPC, Route tables are attached to Subnets.
One route table can be attached to one subnet.
The maximum number of subnets per VPC is 200.
VPC includes AZ. Subnets are placed in AZ.
The addresses such as .0, .1, .2, .3, .255 are not able to use in subnet. They are reserved.
IGW can be attached to VPC. Configure route tables per subnets as needed.
Public Subnet: The subnet attached IGW.
...

Notes 📝

whizlabs.com 💻

There is multiple practice test such as "Practice Test 1", "Practice Test 2", etc, but there is a bias in AWS services appeared in each test.

Rather than doing only "Practice Test 1" and "2" all, I recommend that we should solve 40 questions on "1" and 40 questions on "2" for studying AWS services comprehensively.

Study hours ⏳

  • Weekday: 1 to 2 hours
  • Holiday: 5 hours

When busy with work, 0 hours on both days.

The number of questions solved

  • Weekday: 40 questions. Sometimes 20 questions if there were many questions that I did not understand.
  • Holiday: 80 questions. Sometimes 50 questions if there were many questions that I did not understand too.

Working on summarizing AWS Services

15 services per day.
It took 5 days to complete.

Impressions 🧐

Using "Practice Test Service" helped me to study better, so I recommend doing it.
It’s suitable for getting a feel for the exam because there are only a few questions on AWS Practice Exam.

Having experience using AWS services is a huge advantage.
My personal feeling is that "Through Practice questions: Through experience" = "1 : 10".
Especially in VPC, the experience of building the 2-tier application using private and public subnet, NAT Gateway helped me to understand it.

Solutions Architect - Professional test was the hardest for me of each test.
The scope is broad, but learning it helped me to understand AWS services the most.

That's all!

Sorry, the article is so hard to read.
There are many "I" in sentences😨.
I'll continue to study English...😭

Thanks! 😊

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