Preparing for AWS Certified Developer Beta Exam

November 12, 2013 | Comments(4) |


Amazon has now released Beta for AWS Certified Developer at Associate level and AWS Certified SysOps at Associate Level. Until now only the AWS Certified Solutions Architect was available at the Associate Level. But Amazon is aggressively working on their certification program and adding more certifications at a good pace. Below is the chart Amazon has published for current and future certifications in the pipeline. As you can see many more are coming soon.




I gave the beta test for AWS Certified Developer and am sharing my experience about the certification in this blog post. We will talk bout the AWS certified Sysops in a later blog post.

The AWS Certified Developer certification at Associate Level is now available through Kryterion testing centers. The cost of the certification is $75 (compared to the $150 price for the Solutions Architect, possibly because its beta). Although the beta certification has twice the number of questions and results are not provided immediately. AWS says that the results will be provided upto 8-10 weeks post the beta start date. Also if you fail the beta, you get a free voucher to give the exam again when it comes out of beta. So overall it’s a good deal, and I highly encourage giving the beta.

Below is the summary of difference between publicly released AWS Certified Solutions Architect and AWS Certified Developer Beta exams.

  AWS Certified Solutions Architect AWS Certified Developer Beta
Cost $150 $75
# of questions 40-60 100-120
Time allocated 80 min 80 min
Certification Result Immediate Result Result provided after certification comes out of beta (8-10 weeks)
Passing percentage 65% Not Published.
Retake policy Retake after a month. Up to three attempts in one year. Have to pay each time. Beta can only be taken once. If you fail beta, a free voucher is provided when exam comes out of beta.
Validity 2 years from date of certification 2 years after certification comes out of beta


As the AWS Developer Certification exam is designed for developers who has experience coding solutions that run on AWS infrastructure using AWS services, it has 40% weightage for “Designing and Developing” and 30% for “Deployment and Security”.

This is quite different from the AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam which had more emphasis on designing applications on AWS and thus 60% of the questions are from “Designing highly available, cost efficient, fault tolerant, scalable systems” section.

Below are the high level sections provided by AWS and my experience with these sections.

Topics for AWS Certified Developer Associate Level Exam


1.     AWS Fundamentals (10%)

This section will test basic knowledge about AWS Services. If you have programmed with AWS, most likely you will be able to answer these questions. The challenge will be to have knowledge about all the services involved as part of this exam. AWS blueprint says that the following services are part of the certification:

  • Core AWS Services (S3, IAM, RDS, EC2, ELB, EBS, VPC, etc.)
  • DynamoDB
  • Simple Queue Service (SQS)
  • Simple Notification Service (SNS)
  • Simple Workflow Service (SWS)
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • AWS CloudFormation

 2.     Designing and Developing (40%)

This is the section with highest weightage at 40%. You will be required to know the general architecture and use cases for all the AWS services mentioned above. There can be questions on feasibility of using a particular service for a particular use case, or which service (or group of services) will be best suited for a given use case. Another consideration is how to most efficiently use a service. Some types of questions might be:

  • Given a dataset what will be the best indexing strategy for DynamoDB for a given use case.
  • The best strategy for designing S3 key space and ACLs given a particular type of dataset and use case.
  • Consistency model of each of these services. For example S3 is eventually consistent while DynamoDB has a consistent read option.
  • Various limitations of the Services. For example in S3 how many buckets can you create for an account, in Dynamo how many indices can you create, size limitations on hash-partitions, etc.

Also there will be questions on the most common APIs for these services. For example, some of the most popular S3 APIs are GetObject, ListBucket, PutObject, etc. and for SQS it is CreateQueue, SendMessage, DeleteMessage, etc. One will have to know all these basic APIs for all the AWS services mentioned above. This is quite a big task, as S3 itself has hundreds of APIs. I would recommend going through all the APIs, but if you are short of time, go through the most common ones. (I might have a post later about most common APIs for each of the service above, so keep checking back or like us on Facebook/Twitter to get latest blog post updates).

There can be questions on various SDKs available for AWS too. For example AWS officially supports the Java and Php SDK along with others and there can be questions on these SDKs. Hands-on experience with coding using at least one of these SDKs is a also must

3.     Deployment and Security (30%)

This section will have questions on various ways infrastructure on AWS can be secured. There could be multiple ways infrastructure can be secured and knowledge of these methods is necessary. For example, VPC public & private subnet, EC2 Security Groups, S3 bucket policies and ACLs, IAM user & groups, etc.

Deployment part of this section has more developer centric deployment questions. For example, given a use case, will it be better to use pre-configured AMI or CloudFormation for deployment, integration of deployment management tools like Chef with AWS services, and so on.

4.     Debugging 20%

This section has questions on the most efficient ways to debug applications deployed on AWS. Questions range from some of the most common mistakes like launching public facing servers in private subnet, improper ACLs for S3 objects, improper IAM policies, etc.

Overall the exam is comprehensive and hand-on experience programming with AWS is a must. If you need to get ramped up quickly for the certification, you can consider our Developing Cloud Applications with AWS course. If you would like to get further information about this course please fill out this form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

I recently also added sample questions for AWS Solutions Architect Certification. Try it out here.

Good luck!! If you have any questions, please mention them below and will try to answer them.

4 Responses to “Preparing for AWS Certified Developer Beta Exam”

  1. Mudit

    IS AWS Certified Developer Associate Level still in beta phase i need to give exam this May.

  2. User

    What resources are best for this certification preparation? Are there any free resources available..?


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