How I Passed the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exam

Beginning of this year I set myself a couple of professional goals. After architecting and developing software on AWS for some years, I’m currently working with a private on-premises cloud and wanted to look into AWS again. Thus, I decided to do the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam.

It is a tough exam! It requires broad knowledge of many AWS service. The question domains of the exam are based on the five pillars of the AWS well architected framework. Some of them are more important to know than others, and it is not required to know everything to pass. However, without preparation I would have failed on the exam for sure, even with a couple of years experience.

What to expect

If I would do the exam again today, I would definitely look more into multi-account setups, multi-region workloads, hybrid architectures, and pricing models of S3, RDS and EC2. What is a AWS Storage Gateway and what are the typical use cases? How to grant one account access to resources in another account? How do the S3 storage classes differ and what are the use cases for each?

There are questions about the ELB, ALB, and Autoscaling and how they play together. What are scaling policies and schedules? When to prefer one over the other?

And then there are other services like DynamoDB, Direct Connect, IAM, VPC, Route53, and Cloudfront you should know. Typical questions I would expect are about pricing und typical use cases of these services.

How I prepared

One can probably prepare for the exam on her own. However, I decided to take two online courses.

I found the course “AWS Certified Solution Architect - Associate (SSA-C02)” by Chad Smith of Pearson and the course “AWS Certified Solution Architect Associate 2020” of A Cloud Guru very good.

The later was more in detail and used more hands-on examples, while the first focused on what really important. Additionally, the example exam questions of the first course were much closer to what you can expect to see in the exam. The example questions used in the “Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (Digital)” course by are good, though.

What’s up next

After passing the first exam, I’m looking forward to the next one, probably next year. The preparation was really intense and I learnt a lot about AWS services I have never used before.