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Passed AWS Solutions Architect Professional recertification

I had my AWS Solutions Architect Professional certification nearing expiration date, which was due on November 16 this year. With just a week of preparation for the test I have successfully passed the recertification test, which extended my certificates for another 2 years.

AWS Certified

But make no mistake, a week of preparation is only enough if one already has ton of experience working with AWS.

What is AWS Solutions Architect Professional certification?

AWS Certification program has been around for some time now. In fact, this year it celebrated 5 years and originally it has been announced through this AWS blog post. Having been working with AWS from their early days I always thought that there was a need for such certification if not for the purpose of skill validation, but at least for the purpose of learning the platform, what it can do and its best practices.

Unlike many other certification programs, AWS offers only two levels — Associate and Professional. And the difference in knowledge and experience required to pass each of these levels is tremendous.

To pass AWS Solutions Architect Associate level certification it would be simply enough to know basics of their services and what those services can (and most importantly cannot) do.

AWS Solutions Architect Professional exam on the other hand is considered to be the most complex in this industry for it being very different from Associate counterpart. Professional level requires not only deep knowledge of each service, but also attention to details, ability to design complex systems and deep understanding of business needs. All of which combined with the fact that the exam has 80 questions to be answered in 160 minutes (or in case of recertification it would be 40 questions and 80 minutes) creates great pressure on examinee.

Should you take AWS Solutions Architect Professional?

Yes, you absolutely should go for this test if you plan to work with AWS on regular basis professionally. Just preparation alone gives much better insight and understanding of how to utilize different services available on AWS. Such as where to use RDS instead of your own hosted DB and when not to use any of them and adopt DynamoDB (which is awesome for what it does by the way!).

Tips for preparation to AWS Solutions Architect Professional test

  1. Read through FAQs and forums for different services. If you haven’t worked with most of AWS services, but concentrated on very few core ones instead (i.e. mostly using EC2, ELB/ALB and RDS), you can expect to fail it, because core services come up in the test in very few questions. Most of the questions would be concentrating on supplimentary services such as S3 (yes, I do consider it a supplimentary service still), DynamoDB, SES, SNS etc. You may already know core services through and through and still fail by not knowing the rest of AWS ecosystem
  2. Go over service limits as described in AWS documentation. Quite a few questions require knowing these. And as AWS professional one should know the limits well
  3. Read AWS published whitepapers. I think this is the most important one for preparation for this test as well as for understanding use cases for different services. I will add some links to whitepapers at the end of this article
  4. Get hands on experience with services. I can see many people prepare to the AWS Professional exam in same way as they do for Associate by simply going to some website that provides AWS courses and spending a few good hours listening to presenter talk about services. But many of those who passed this test will agree with me that this approach will never replace actual hands on experience.
  5. Think as a business, not as engineer. This final tip is quite important for professional level certification. As experts of AWS we should provide value to the business by building reliable and well performing systems. Engineering approach may work well for self-hosted blog and things like that, but business often does not care about bells and whistles. Business cares about results that translate to financial profit. Which means efficiency is the top most priority.

What to read?

  1. FAQs of different products. Ideally you should read and understand them all
  2. Overview of Amazon Web Services whitepaper
  3. AWS Storage Services whitepaper
  4. AWS Well-Architected Framework whitepaper
  5. AWS Security Best Practices
  6. Backup and Recovery Approaches Using AWS
  7. AWS Migration whitepaper
  8. An Overview of AWS Cloud Data Migration Services

1 comment

  • Spencer on 03:22 #

    Hi Alex, congratulations! Cannot believe you passed it with only a week preparation … I am still struggling with this exam now, so thanks so much for your advice !

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