AWS Certified - Anggra Sastriawan

Finally! After a very draining 6 hours of back to back exam sessions, I’ve successfully renewed both my AWS Solutions Architect - Professional and AWS DevOps Engineer - Professional certificates. And because of these two professional level recertification, I am also entitled to recertify my Associate level certifications as explained in the AWS Recertification page.

There are a lot more areas/domains in terms of products or services that are covered in the exam compared to the ones I took 3 years ago. I will try to share a little bit of my experience, but definitely not the questions or any AWS confidential information as all candidates would have entered a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before taking the exam. So here it goes.

Preparations

I gave myself about 2 weeks to prepare, with roughly about 2 hours each day to go through the materials and reinforce the areas that I feel lacking. You may want to spend much more time if you are not a continuous user of AWS. I don’t even have enough confidence to go without any preparations even though I use AWS daily, as most of us usually focus only on certain areas in our work.

Following are some sources or sites that are useful:

  • AWS Certifications - a must
  • Prepare for Your AWS Certification Exam - a must, definitely read the exam guides and try the sample questions
  • AWS Whitepapers & Guides - a must (the ones relevant to your certification)
  • Certification Exam Readiness Training - the free Digital and eLearning courses are good to give an overview of how the questions will be, but the paid training may not be necessary unless you feel that you definitely need more push and structured training
  • Practice Exams - not necessary, but useful if you want to gauge on how you are faring before going for the actual exam
  • AWS Console - a must. Practice, practice, practise! Yes, practising and confirming what you have learnt from the white paper or documentation helps you absorb and understand the topics
  • A Cloud Guru - not bad. Many recommend A Cloud Guru, but personally, I feel it is more of a complementary source, and should not be used as the only preparation method.

In short, it is to familiarise yourself well to AWS products and services that are generally available and also to understand the style of the questions.

Venue

Candidates will be given 2 options whether to do the test in a test centre or to do remotely. If you choose the latter, there are certain prerequisites like the need to have a webcam to monitor your surrounding plus others for the proctor to detect any potential cheating.

Duration

In general, candidates are given 180 minutes (3 hours) for each certification exams to complete a total of 75 questions. That means there are only about 2 minutes per question, so time management is essential.

For my case, I booked the 2 exams on the same day as I thought the faster I settle, the better it is. It was tough, but they went well and exceeded my expectations. If you decide to follow my path, it is better to bring some quick bites (energy bars and liquids are good) for the short break in between. You may not have the time to find a nice meal as you need the break time to rest. 3 hours of continuous thinking session definitely will be strenuous for your brain.

Strategy

Different people might have different strategies, but the following are mine:

  1. Eliminate incorrect statements. This will help reduce the time needed to answer significantly.
  2. Set a predefined time to read and understand each question. If you need a lot of time to understand it, quickly flag it and move to the next question. Revisit in your 2nd run, so you’ll have more time to analyse the question again.
  3. Identify important keywords. Although some answer options are logically correct, they might not be the best answer. Be careful with this.

The Result

As with all other AWS certification exams, the result whether you’ve passed or failed will immediately be shown right after you click submit.

After a couple of days, the link to download the certificate will be sent thru email. And here are mine:

Anggra’s AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional certificate

Anggra’s AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certificateAs I’ve obtained the certifications before, these exams extend the validity of my certifications for another 3 years.

If you are into details, the performance report (the score and performance breakdown by module) can also be viewed in the AWS Training and Certification site.

Benefits

Besides validating your cloud knowledge, especially on AWS and reassuring your employee (or clients) that you have the right skillsets to manage their projects, the certifications also come with some benefits, like:

  • Free practice exam voucher
  • 50% off your next certification exam voucher
  • Digital badge
  • AWS Certified store access

For me, the validation and experience in finding the gaps in areas that I need to improve on are the most important benefits. So after this, I will definitely try to revisit those and explore the exciting new services (do you know that new products or services that have been generally available for at least 6 months will be included in the exam?).

How about you? Good luck and all the best if you are planning to take the certifications!