Amazon AWS Certification Preparation Tips

Amazon AWS is one of the highly used best public cloud platform in the Cloud Computing World. Earning an AWS Certification credentials will surely help for the IT engineers who is looking for an aspiring career in Cloud as a Cloud Architect or Cloud Administrator or Cloud DevOps.

Amazon AWS has launched their Certifications to all the Cloud Engineers in 2013. Since I am actively working on Amazon AWS in different roles as an: Architect, SysOps and DevOps. I took all the associate and professional architect exams and completed them successfully in first quarter of 2014.

Few weeks ago, I have received an e-mail from Amazon AWS saying that, your certifications will expire in few weeks and to keep your certification status active you need to get Re-certified in all streams. So this time, I have decided to write all the associate exams in one day and booked the slots with 21 days of buffer time to prepare myself and to get ready for the exam.

After that, I have started thinking how do I start and prepare for 3 exams and write all at once despite my regular job. And I was able to successfully write all the 3 AWS exams in 51 minutes with > 91% score rate. So, I thought of sharing my experiences with all of you.

Here are some of the key points which helped me during my preparation.

  • I have thoroughly gone through each certification exam blueprint to understand the common topics, weightage to each topic, and learning resources. After my analysis I have found that, if you thoroughly prepare for the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate exam, it will cover the rest of the two exam topics for you.
  • I spent very good amount of time in reading the FAQ’s of each topic which is in scope
  • I have gone through the AWS official documentation of each topic which is in scope
  • Since I have 5+ years of experience in Amazon AWS Cloud alone, I have taken only few important notes where new features and services added for that respective topic in last 2 years. So that, I can revise them before the exam.
  • Since I had prior experience in writing the exam, I knew what topics AWS will mainly focus during the exam. So I have spent extra time on those topics like: EC2/EBS, IAM, Auto Scaling, VPC, S3, CloudWatch, Route53, ELB and RDS.
  • I have taken the sample exam questions which is providing by the Amazon AWS for each certification. From those sample questions, you can expect at least 3-6 questions in each exam.

AWS Key Focus Areas in AWS Certification Exam:

  • Cost Savings: For any Cloud adopting companies cost savings is biggest factor, So Amazon AWS will post lot of real time questions on cost savings that includes using of Reserved Instances, Auto Scaling, Glacier, Spot Instances and etc
  • Security: Since the Public Clouds came up with a slogan called anywhere connectivity with an internet connection, security is key factor for every organization for their Cloud workloads. So AWS will post lot of security related questions the includes IAM Keys, Temporary Security Credentials, IAM Federation, IAM Policies, S3 Encryption, EBS Encryption, Security Groups, Public/Private Subnets Routing, VPN Connectivity, NAT, MFA and etc.
  • Architecture/Performance: Performance is also one of the key factor in Cloud because of its elasticity and availability of unlimited resources. So putting the right architecture and choosing the right AWS Services will play a key role in your application performance. So AWS will post lot of architecture/performance related questions like: Auto Scaling, Spot Instances, choosing right services for your application like: PIOPS EBS, S3, SQS, Elastic BeanStalk, DynamoDB, CloudFront CDN and etc

For newbies who are taking the AWS certification for the first time, I would recommend to use the below points before hitting the actual exam:

  • Book your exam slot depending upon your confidence level and time you can spend to study for the certification exam, I would recommend any time between 45-60 days of in advance would be a good idea
  • Read through the topics documentation thoroughly and keep the points noted for your revise
  • Practice at least,
    • Setting up an VPC with multiple subnets, multiple zones, and deploy an WordPress application in high availability mode and implement the auto scaling using EC2, RDS, S3, ELB, Auto Scaling, CloudFront, SNS, VPC services
    • Perform the same activity using Amazon AWS Bean Stalk
    • Create multiple VPC’s, enable the VPC peering between the environments and add the routes on both the ends
    • Create a bash shell script using AWS CLI and IAM Roles to automate the AMI creation, snapshots, copying IAM/Snapshots to other region, pushing some test data to S3 bucket from EC2 and etc.
    • Host a static website using S3 bucket and associate a domain in Route53
    • Purchase a domain Route53 and point the DNS records to S3 buckets, ELB’s, Public IP Addresses and etc and also associate a health checks to each records
    • Create IAM Users with different access permissions (IAM Policies) which you think is apt for L0, L1, L2 and L3 team members in your team.
  • Read through the FAQ’s to understand each service, their limitations and major advantages of that service
  • Read through the AWS white papers which are mentioned in AWS Certification exam blueprint
  • Take the sample exam questions and correct them with your peers or google for answers to those questions
  • Write an AWS Practice Test exam at least 10 days in advance of actual exam, if you are not confident enough, just to make sure you have done the right preparation for the exam.

If your financial status supports, you then I would recommend to write all the associate exams on the same day or at least 2 exams on the same day.

Hope my experiences and recommendations will help you to earn your certification dream in Cloud.

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