How I Studied for AWS Certified Solution Architect Exam

My Background

Before going into details, it is important to explain my background a little bit. People with different background might need different levels of study time.

I hold a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. I’ve been making PC applications for many years (mostly mathematical simulations and games). I had zero experience on networking, web application or cloud computing before studying for this certification. I had a 9-to-5 job as a VR game developer and a demanding toddler (she does not want to sleep).

I decided to study for this certification because no matter what type of software I decided to develop, cloud computing would probably have a role in it these days (from Desktop Applications to IoT, Web applications, Scientific Computing, Video Games and etc.). Another motivation was that knowing cloud computing would keep me in-demand in the job market.

Study Material

It took me about 5 months to study for this exam. I used these resources:

  1. The popular acloudGuru course (on Udemy).
  2. Amazon Web Services (For doing the hands-on labs).
  3. FAQ and landing page of every single AWS service that was included in the exam.
  4. Googling things that I was not sure (e.g. AWS WorkSpaces vs. AWS AppStream or AWS Beanstalk vs. AWS CloudFormation)
  5. Wikipedia (mostly to understand broad concepts and ideas like cloud bursting, subnetting, various networking protocols like iSCSI and …).
  6. AWS White Papers (I skim them).
  7. The ACloudGuru Practice Test course (on Udemy).

My Study Routine

My study routine was like this:

  1. Watched one or more related video clips of acloudguru course without doing the lab.
  2. Watched the video clips again but this time logged into AWS and replicated the video step by step.
  3. If there was any concept that I still could not understand, I googled it.
  4. Created flashcards and entered them into an online spaced-repetition system. I used Repetico because I could access it from my smartphone or PC.
  5. Took the practice tests.

How I Made Time to Study

When I decided to study for the exam, my schedule seems to be already filled up with various responsibilities and chores. First I cut the social media out. Second, I started to wake up sooner than the rest of my family so that I have undistracted quality hours in the morning. That means I woke up at 5 am instead of 8 am every day including weekends (and went to bed earlier to compensate). I dedicated those hours to study new materials and creating flashcards.

For reviewing the materials, I studied my flashcards on my smartphone whenever I found an opportunity (while waiting in lines, laying on the sofa or bed before falling asleep, etc.) The great thing about the spaced-repetition system is that it guarantees the information goes from your short-term memory to long-term memory. So, I was not worried about forgetting things.

Exam Result 

I passed the certification exam on the first try with the score of % 81. The exam was heavily scenario-based and did not ask about stupid questions like how many days AWS keeps your automatic DB snapshots.