Prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification exam with these tried and true tips.
Solutions architects are increasingly in demand because of their unique position between the technical demands and specifics of development teams and the budget and business goals. This demand is rising because of the growth of cloud platforms over the last year. At Virtasant, we want to have the world’s largest pool of Amazon Web Services (AWS) experts, and that begins with empowering our engineers to expand their knowledge of the AWS scope of services through training and certification.
You can learn more about the solutions architect role in our latest hiring guide. This article will focus on the AWS Solutions Architect certification exam. We talked to some of our recently certified engineers who shared their tips for success.
AWS Solutions Architect Exam: Getting Started
Thanks to popular demand, and perhaps a push from pandemic lockdowns, you can now take all AWS certification exams from the comfort of your home. All you need is a reliable internet connection, a webcam, and a quiet, private place to take the test. This makes it easier to take the exam even if you don’t live close to a testing center. But it also comes with some rigorous identification and anti-cheating measures that you need to be prepared for.
Before You Take the Exam Online
You should be aware of these requirements intended to protect the integrity and standards of the AWS certification exam.
Be in a private, isolated space
No else is allowed in the room when you take the test. If a family member accidentally walks in, you could be disqualified.
There are no breaks allowed
You must have your webcam turned on, and remain in view of the camera for the entire 130-minute duration of the test. Bring a glass of water, and use the bathroom before you start.
Online proctoring is strict
You may not have paper, notes, electronics, or anything else in the test space. The proctor will ask you to pan the camera around the room and may even request to see you physically unplug other visible electronics. In some cases, the proctor may request that you remove your wristwatch and not read questions aloud.
If you feel you cannot satisfy the above requirements for the online exam, it’s best to schedule your exam at the nearest test center.
Scheduling and Admin Considerations
Schedule at least one week in advance
Appointments are available around the clock but can fill up quickly.
Once you’ve scheduled your test, read the confirmation email. Then read it again.
This email includes detailed instructions and everything else you will need to start your exam, such as acceptable forms of identification. Don’t dismiss or delete this.
Before exam day, run the system test on the computer you plan to use
Both test delivery providers, Pearson VUE and PSI, have their own system tests. Run the test using the space, network, and device that you will use for the exam to ensure your setup will meet exam requirements.
Prepare for language barriers
Communication with the proctor is only available in English or Japanese. If you are a non-native speaker of these languages, you can request an ESL accommodation and receive an additional 30 minutes to complete the test. The test itself can be taken in English, Japanese, Korean, or Simplified Chinese.
Additional accommodations can be requested from within your AWS.Training/Certification account.
Resources to Help You Learn
The best way to pass your exam on the first try is to be adequately prepared. Unless you’ve already been working extensively in AWS, studying one hour per day isn’t going to cut it. You will get more utility out of your study time if you dedicate several days per week, or blocks of time throughout the week, to exam prep: review exam guides, run hands-on labs, and take practice tests.
Check out these learning resources for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Exam:
Courses & Resources
Adrian Cantrill’s SAA-C02 course
This is an in-depth course that will not only help you pass the exam but teach you how to actually use AWS. You will learn about related web technologies such as the OSI model, DNS, TLS, and more. Expect best of class theory, architecture, and practical demo lessons.
Udemy: Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
This course is composed of on-demand videos, articles, downloadable resources, and a practice test. You will get hands-on experience with solutions architecture on AWS. Master the different AWS databases, learn the Serverless Fundamentals, and understand the Well-Architected Framework with this course.
AWS Exam Readiness Digital Courses
Amazon has a library of on-demand webinars and courses dedicated to exam readiness. These courses are designed to complement the hands-on experience with AWS and are a great way to get the essentials down, as well as understand the content that will be on the exam.
AWS Product and Technical FAQs
AWS FAQs are a great high-level resource for AWS products and services. Page through the topics relevant to the test. You’ll be grateful you did on exam day!
Before you sit for the real deal, it’s best to take a few practice runs to verify your cloud architecture skills. Check out these practice exams for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification.
- Udemy: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Practice Exams
- Tutorial Dojo: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Practice Exams 2021
- Whizlabs: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
Advice for Exam Day
Pearson VUE and PSI
Run the Pearson VUE and PSI system test again to make sure you are good to go and your system won’t crash during the test.
The last thing you want are suspicious notifications catching the eye of your proctor while you are testing.
Disable Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management
For Windows users, this helps to avoid a vmms process error from booting you out of the test environment.
You can launch your exam 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This will give you time to set up, clear your space, and complete all launch requirements without rushing. Remember: if you’re more than 15 minutes late, you won’t be able to take the exam.
Finally, turn the lights on
Seriously, this is not a joke. Your proctor may not allow you to get up to do so if the sun goes down.
Some test takers have commented that the strict proctoring requirements of the online exam have negated the benefit of testing from home. But ultimately, if you can get your ducks in a row and adhere to online testing protocols, you have a lot more flexibility to get certified on your schedule.