AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exam: 5 Things You Don’t Need to Know

Interested in saving yourself a bit of time? Here are some things you won’t need to know for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate level exam!

Discussion about the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate level exam seems to generally focus on what you need to study to pass, and how you should go about it. However, I believe that it can be useful to spend at least a few minutes talking about what you don’t have to know. You might just save yourself some serious time and effort. So here are five areas that you might just want to skip – for now, at least.

PLEASE NOTE: At the time of writing I believe that the following is all correct. However,  this may change in the future due to the constantly changing nature of the cloud.

1. The AWS Command Line Interface (CLI)

As per the AWS documentation:

The AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) is a unified tool to manage your AWS services. With just one tool to download and configure, you can control multiple AWS services from the command line and automate them through scripts.

The AWS CLI is a great tool for accomplishing all kinds of tasks quickly and efficiently. You can list your account users, display an S3 bucket’s size and contents, or test one of your CloudFormation templates. If it can be done, it can almost certainly be done better from the CLI. Don’t believe me? Take a look at my AWS CLI: 10 useful commands you may not know post.

Nevertheless, I have yet to see a CLI-related question in the AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam sample questions, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect practice exam, or the full AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam itself. So don’t expect to see something like

What does this do?

aws s3 rb s3://bucket-name --force

By the way, in case you are wondering, the above command deletes an S3 bucket and all of its contents

2. Mobile Services (except Amazon SNS)

The following services are described in AWS documentation as Mobile Services:

  • Amazon Cognito
  • Amazon Mobile Analytics
  • Amazon SNS
  • AWS Mobile SDK for Android
  • AWS Mobile SDK for iOS
  • AWS Mobile SDK for Unity

But, besides SNS, I haven’t seen a single question relating to any of them in any AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam. You will need to understand SNS well, mind you, but I think you can confidently and safely ignore the rest.

3. Enterprise Applications

The following services are described as Enterprise Applications:

  • Amazon WorkSpaces
  • Amazon WAM
  • Amazon WorkDocs
  • Amazon WorkMail

Again: not a whisper about any of ’em in the exam. As a matter of fact, Amazon WorkMail is still only available as a preview…and, even then, only for those lucky few whose requests are granted.

4. Lambda and CodeDeploy

AWS Lambda is a zero-administration compute platform with a fine-grained pricing structure for back-end web developers that runs code in the AWS cloud for you. AWS CodeDeploy is a deployment service that helps developers automate application deployments and management. Once again, you won’t find a word about either in your AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exam. This may not be true of the AWS Certified Developer or DevOps exams.

5. CloudFormation Templates

AWS CloudFormation is a service that helps you model your AWS resources so that you can spend less time managing those resources and more time focusing on your applications. You create a template that describes all the AWS resources that you want (like EC2 or RDS DB instances), and AWS CloudFormation takes care of the infrastructure.

The key to getting the most out of AWS CloudFormation is a thorough understanding of templates. A template is a text file whose format complies with the JSON standard like the one below.AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exam

"UserData" : {
    "Fn::Base64" : {
        "Fn::Join" : [
            ",", [
                { "Ref" : "MyValue" },
                { "Ref" : "MyName" },
                "Hello World"
            ]
        ]
    }
}

You should know what AWS CloudFormation is and how it differs from other services such as AWS Elastic Beanstalk and AWS OpsWorks, but don’t panic if you have no idea what the above code actually does, as you definitely won’t encounter anything like it on the AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam.

Once again please keep in mind that the above, to the best of my knowledge, is 100% correct at the time of writing but there is no guarantee that things won’t change sometime down the road. Before you write the exam, you should check the official AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam page for the most up to date information.

Please comment below if you believe anything here isn’t accurate.

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Written by

Michael Sheehy

I have been UNIX/Linux System Administrator for the past 15 years and am slowly moving those skills into the AWS Cloud arena. I am passionate about AWS and Cloud Technologies and the exciting future that it promises to bring.


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