I recently passed the AWS SAA certification 🎉, penning my experience here.
I have been working with AWS for the past ~3 years on and off based on the projects and client needs. One of the challenges for me is that I was always reactive. Usually the needs are EC2, ECS, S3, Cloudfront, Cloudwatch and RDS and that's it. I haven't tried lots of their services, and I wasn't even aware of the optimisations that can be done on both cost as well as in the architecture front.
Decided to pick up this certification AWS SAA to proactively design and build secured, resilient and cost optimised architectures upfront and not to wait for the issues to pop up and then optimise. This is my first certification and certainly re-lived my college exam days while preparing for this exam.
Started this around ~3 months back, but was very much overwhelmed with the amount of materials (courses/ notes) that's on the internet. Eventually settled on the following things,
- Udemy course by Stephane Maarek 🎥 This is the longest course (~27hours) I have ever signed up for. This is an excellent start if you are looking to get this certification. This gives an intro and decent depth on all (almost) the AWS services. If you follow the hands-on approach along with Stephen, you will be equally confident in managing these services.
- This Github notes 📝 Though the videos are exhaustive, it's impossible to remember everything that's in there. That's where these Github notes helped me. Whenever I had some 15 mins, i goto a section in here and read through that.
- Anki Cards: 📇 Using flashcards to revise and memorise is my habit for a long time. Thanks to this reddit user, there is an excellent summary of all the services. You can import them to the anki app and you are good to go. 20 cards a day and your certification isn't far away 😁
- Took the practice exams in Udemy. ✍🏼 This is an eye opener for me. I can understand and relate to most of the questions (thanks to the course and notes) but this is where we need to apply the knowledge we learnt and it wasn't easy. I decided to take all the tests in the course as open book types. After a couple of tests, I realised an open book takes a lot of time and decided to make some guesses and mark those guess questions for later review.
On the day experience
- I took the exam through Pearson Vue online. Make sure to keep the work desk (wherever the laptop/computer is placed) clean. They do check that 😅
- You can check in 30 mins before the scheduled time, and likely the exam will also start early.
- One day before the exam, go through the system check and keep things ready.
- You will have your video and mic turned on throughout the exam, you can't mute or turn off the video.
- My guess on the evaluation part. There are lots of questions where they offer partial marks. So the score isn't binary (right or wrong). so don't give up halfway, if you have done the preparations well you are likely to pass the exam.
Some tips if i want to re-do this
- Book the exam dates upfront. There isn't enough motivation to run through the gazillion notes, so have a milestone. It isn't a big problem, since you can amend the dates twice.
- Pair with a like minded person. Again not to drop the ball on the certification and have someone to talk to.
- You can't master concepts along with the details in one go. accept that. so don't spend too much time on one thing.
- Spend more time on model exams/tests. From a time perspective, split it 50-50 roughly. Spend 50% time to go over the video courses, understanding the concepts and the remaining 50 to go over the model tests.
- For non native english speakers, there is a provision to get 30 mins extra time for the exam. (ESL+30). It's good to take this time, i cut close to the finishing 140 mins.
Happy preparing, and all the best !!