Summary: Updated 30 May 2018, AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional Exam has been removed from BETA. Please refer to the new article.
Yesterday, I took the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional BETA Exam. I wanted to share a quick overview of my experience with the certification exam.
As you all know, AWS now offers the following certifications:
The exam was very comprehensive. The exam covered almost all of the services AWS offers.
Beta test was very long. 175 questions took 180 minutes, which is approximately 60 seconds per question. Many questions were more than 200 words. This means that you had to read, understand, and answer a 200-word question in 60 seconds. Drink lots of coffee before the exam. (Update: I’ve heard that the number of questions has been reduced to 150, but AWS hasn’t confirmed this yet.
Many questions required deep knowledge of core services. It was sufficient to be able to use a service at the associate level (how to start it, how it is configured, common use cases, etc.). It is obvious that AWS certified Solutions Architects are required to understand the specifics of how a service performs these tasks.
Let’s take EC2 as an example. (Note: These questions were not asked in my exam. I am simply giving an example). In associate level it would be good enough to understand what different state of EC2 instance are start/stop/restart/terminate, and that you can stop and start and EBS backed AMI and retain any state on disk. Professional level might require you to know exactly what happens when an EBS Backed AMI instance is stopped. Your root EBS volume will be preserved and your instance is released. When you start another instance, it will retrieve the stored EBS volume and make it root again, thus restoring the state. However, the physical machine will be different and any data on Ephemeral drives will be lost.
You will also need to understand how ELB loads balancing works, and how VPC features such as Route Table, Network ACL, and Route Table work. VPC functions, various connectivity options such as virtual private gateway and internet gateway, etc.
There were many real-life scenarios that led to questions. To understand the question and the scenario, I had to draw many diagrams in my scratchpad. Consultants who work with many clients and have exposure to many real-life scenarios are in the best position.
I recommend looking through the AWS architecture designs on their website. It will be very helpful.
AWS is stepping up the ante by certifying SA-Professional Level AWS-certified SA-Professional Level to design cross-region infrastructure.
The beta exam costs $150, which is half the original exam’s cost ($300). You will also get a free test if you fail the beta. There is nothing to lose by trying this beta. So just do it. You have until Thursday to register for the beta. Friday is the last day you can take it.
I will try to provide more information later, but I hope my experience helps other people be better prepaired.
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If you haven’t tried it yet, check out Sample Questions for AWS Solutions Associate Level here. Part II of Sample questions here.
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