AWS Certified Solutions Architect: What to Study, Tips, and Resources

(Update) We’ve recently published a complete and updated Solutions Architect Associate Certification Learning Path that includes video Courses, Hands-on Labs, and Quizzes prepare for AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate level. We regularly update our AWS Certifications Learning Paths to reflect changes and new products now included in the certifications.


This article explains what to study, and how to pass the AWS Certification exams, like the AWS Solutions Architect exam (Associate Level). Cloud Academy has specific Courses and Learning Paths included in every subscription plan that help you study and pass the certification exams for AWS Solutions Architect (AL) and AWS Certified Developer (AL).

It is a well-known fact that AWS is the leading IaaS provider across the world. In addition, due to its aggressive and innovative offering, AWS leads the race for Infrastructure Cloud by miles in comparison to its peers. Considering its popularity, AWS started the AWS certification program in April 2013. AWS certification focus on three career streams:

  • AWS Architects
  • AWS Developers
  • AWS SysOps

The exam for an AWS Architect – Associate level, was launched in April 2013. More than 2100 associates have cleared the exam. I was the #2052. Below, I share my journey towards obtaining the AWS Certification for the AWS Solution Architect – Associate Level.

Your technical background and AWS Certification

I possess 12+year industry experience in various streams. In addition, I have more than 3-year experience with AWS. I’ve written a white paper on Amazon Web Services as well as trained numerous people in AWS. I’m proud to say that I have been part of multiple engagements on AWS and am an active blogger and content writer for them.

Don’t be intimidated. You don’t need as much experience or familiarity with AWS as I had to clear the AWS exams. The AWS certification exam for Solution Architect is targeted for associates with the following criteria:

  • Sound knowledge of the AWS services
  • Good hands-on experience with AWS
  • Understanding of AWS HA, DR, and security requirements

I would like to concentrate on the above mentioned three points.

I would first and foremost recommend registering for an AWS certification.

This will help you fix a target date to start the preparations.  I recommend you study the above-mentioned information, as it should be part of your AWS preparation cycle.  I believe that the second most important step is to understand the exam structure.

Read about the structure and the focus areas. You may feel that all the AWS topics have been covered, but it is still important to have clarity and hands-on experience around the basic concepts of AWS.

How and what I studied for AWS Certified Solutions Architect

Let me now share my journey of obtaining the AWS certification, which is divided into four sections.

  • Based on my experiences, I felt I had good knowledge of Amazon EC2, RDS, storage and scaling services. However, concerning VPC, I was a little naive. Thus, I focussed more on VPC and gained some hands-on experience for VPC scenarios #1 & #2. The key areas to understand are VPC networking and routing.
  • After VPC, I focused on Route 53, Cloudformation, and ElasticBeanstalk as these are important areas where I needed more hands-on experience.
  • Next, I studied the practical aspects of areas, such as EC2, RDS, storage, and scaling service. The focus areas included, how to use, when to use, and what are the points should be considered.
  • After completing all the hands-on work, I went through AWS whitepapers. I learned new concepts and prepared myself for the exam. A few whitepapers, such as AWS Cloud Best Practices, AWS DR, AWS HA, AWS Security Best Practices, AWS Storage Options, etc., were very useful.

Which Amazon Web Services products you should focus on

  • First, study the AWS basic services, such as EC2, S3, EBS, ELB, AutoScaling, and Cloudwatch as the basic services.
  • Next, study VPC thoroughly. You can expect many questions on the concepts of VPC.
  • After you have covered the basic services, go through RDS and DynamoDB.
  • Understand the reasons why CloudFormation, ElasticBeanstalk, SWS, SQS, SES, and SNS are necessary.
  • It is absolutely essential to be familiar with the whitepapers!

Tips for passing the exam of AWS Certified Solutions Architect

  • I understand that AWS has a wide variety of offerings and you can anticipate questions in all streams. However, one of the most important things is, don’t waste time searching for AWS dumps/questions. As per the AWS certification agreement, people will not share the questions.
  • There are a few sites available and I don’t think my questions matched the questions listed on those sites. You can refer to those sites just for the purpose of last-minute verifications. Alternatively, go through sites, such as Cloud Academy’s which gives various practical exam questions.
  • Understand the AWS exam structure and follow it. It is important to obtain hands-on experience with the AWS console, specifically for EC2, scaling services, VPC, and storage services. This will give you the necessary confidence for learning what you need to know.
  • Use the AWS FAQs for last minute preparations. The FAQs cover areas, such as the purpose of the service, offerings, and some key salient features. On the last two days before the exam, I recommend that you go through as many FAQs as possible.
  • Your questions will only be practical. Based on my experience, and some forums, AWS asks questions only for practical cases, and not numeric figures, such as how many buckets can you have in one region, etc?
  • There are various AWS forums on LinkedIn where people share their experiences.

Materials and resources to study

  • There were many sites available and I preferred to refer to the AWS documentation and white papers. I found them the best source of information. Use the AWS console to gain hands-on experience.
  • I enjoyed Cloud Academy as most of the questions are practical. I recommend Cloud Academy as one of the most important resources to prepare for your exam and to learn how to use Amazon Web Services in general. You can start using Cloud Academy, with scenario-based quizzes, explanations for every quiz, video courses, and laboratories. The product has a free 7-day trial to start and you can review the pricing on the same link.
  • There are sites, such as CBTnuggets as well as learning videos by AWS too. If you are not familiar with some of the AWS services, you can refer to the AWS training site or AWS video channel for more study.

Preparing your AWS Certifications with Cloud Academy

On the Cloud Academy website, you have different products to study for the AWS Certifications: a dedicated series of learning paths with scenario based questions for all AWS Certifications is probably the most effective instrument to start.

If you need to start learning from scratch, you can use our Solutions Architect—Associate Certification for AWS.

(Update) Over the past months, we’ve been busy creating a robust solution for organizations who are looking to upskill their teams. With a premier cloud ecosystem library, the ability to assign training plans, extend and customize training for the organization, Cloud Academy’s Enterprise plan is the most effective way to launch an enterprise technology training program at scale.

We’ve also built AWS Hands-on Labs to guide you step by step in a secure, sandboxed environment so that you can gain real experience in a live AWS environment.

Inside every AWS Certification path, you can repeat questions, restart a batch of 250 quizzes with explanations every time–if you like. You may take quizzes in test prep mode or study mode and track your results. When you click statements, you will review all the quiz explanations.

In conclusion, I feel that the AWS Associate certifications are definitely one of the best certificate exams to take for your learning and hands-on experience. Though you may not need deep knowledge for the associate level exam, I recommend you don’t take any shortcuts; instead, follow the path suggested by AWS.  I encourage you to really understand AWS and its best practices because this will help you in achieving your AWS goals.

Stefano Bellasio

Written by

Stefano Bellasio

Stefano's a computer engineering guy that loves building products. He's the CEO and co-founder of CloudAcademy.com. All his experience is in the web hosting and cloud computing industry where he started other companies before. He loves talking with all readers of Cloud Academy blog, so feel free to email him at stefano@cloudacademy.com!


Related Posts

Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— July 9, 2020

Which Certifications Should I Get?

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and compan...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 2, 2020

New Content: AWS, Azure, Typescript, Java, Docker, 13 New Labs, and Much More

This month, our Content Team released a whopping 13 new labs in real cloud environments! If you haven't tried out our labs, you might not understand why we think that number is so impressive. Our labs are not “simulated” experiences — they are real cloud environments using accounts on A...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— June 19, 2020

Kickstart Your Tech Training With a Free Week on Cloud Academy

Are you looking to make a jump in your technical career? Want to get trained or certified on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DevOps, Kubernetes, Python, or another in-demand skill?Then you'll want to mark your calendar. Starting Monday, June 22 at 12:00 a.m. PDT (3:00 a.m. EDT), ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloud academy content
  • complimentary access
  • GCP
  • on the house
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— June 11, 2020

New Content: AZ-500 and AZ-400 Updates, 3 Google Professional Exam Preps, Practical ML Learning Path, C# Programming, and More

This month, our Content Team released tons of new content and labs in real cloud environments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first highly interactive "Office Hours" webinar. This webinar, Acing the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification, started with a quick overvie...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Rebecca Willis
Rebecca Willis
— June 3, 2020

Azure vs. AWS: Which Certification Provides the Brighter Future?

More and more companies are using cloud services, prompting more and more people to switch their current IT position to something cloud-related. The problem is most people only have that much time after work to learn new technologies, and there are plenty of cloud services that you can ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • certification
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— June 2, 2020

Blog Digest: 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified, OWASP Top 10, Getting Started with VPCs, Top 10 Soft Skills, and More

Thank you for being a valued member of our community! We recently sent out a short survey to understand what type of content you would like us to add to Cloud Academy, and we want to thank everyone who gave us their input. If you would like to complete the survey, it's not too late. It ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— May 11, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure Cert Prep: AI-100, AZ-104, AZ-204 & AZ-400, Amazon Athena Playground, Google Cloud Developer Challenge, and much more

This month, our Content Team released 8 new learning paths, 4 courses, 7 labs in real cloud environments, and 4 new knowledge check assessments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first course on Alibaba Cloud, and our expert instructors are working 'round the clock to create 6 n...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Avatar
Rhonda Martinez
— May 4, 2020

Top 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified Right Now

Cloud computing trends are on the rise and have been for some time already. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start learning cloud computing. Skills like AWS and others associated with cloud computing are in high demand because cloud technologies have become crucial for many businesse...

Read more
  • Amazon Elastic Book Store
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • Glacier
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— May 1, 2020

Introducing Our Newest Lab Environments: Lab Playgrounds

Want to train in a real cloud environment, but feel slowed down by spinning up your own deployments? When you consider security or pricing costs, it can be costly and challenging to get up to speed quickly for self-training. To solve this problem, Cloud Academy created a new suite of la...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Docker
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Java
  • lab playgrounds
  • Python
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— April 30, 2020

Blog Digest: AWS Breaking News, Azure DevOps, AWS Study Guide, 8 Ways to Prevent a Ransomware Attack, and More

  New articles by topicAWS Azure Data Science Google Cloud  Cloud Adoption Platform Updates & New Content Security Women in TechAWSBreaking News: All AWS Certification Exams Now Available Online As an Advanced AWS Technology Partner, C...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • programming
  • Security
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— April 27, 2020

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate: A Study Guide

Want to take a really impactful step in your technical career? Explore the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certificate. Its new version (SAA-C02) was released on March 23, 2020, though you can still take SAA-C01 through July 1, 2020. This post will focus on version SAA-C02.The AWS...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— April 9, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: AWS Solutions Architect Exam Prep, Azure Courses, GCP Engineer Exam Prep, Programming, and More

Free content on Cloud Academy More and more customers are relying on our technology and content to keep upskilling their people in these months, and we are doing our best to keep supporting them. While the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to make a small contribution to he...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • programming