I appeared for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional BETA Exam yesterday. I wanted to give a brief first look idea about my experience with the certification exam.
As you know AWS now has following certifications:
- The exam was VERY comprehensive. There were questions from almost all the services that AWS has.
- Beta test was looooong.. 175 questions in 180 mins, which comes to around 60 seconds per question. And a lot of questions were 200 words or more. That means you had to read the question, comprehend and answer a 200 word question in 60 seconds. Drink a lot of coffee before the exam 🙂 (Update: Its been heard the number of questions are reduced to 150 now, but I haven’t confirmed it with AWS yet.)
- There were a lot of questions that required deep knowledge about some of the core services. In the associate level, it was good enough to understand how to use a service (How to start it, how to configure it, its most common use cases ,etc.). But its obvious to attain AWS certified Solutions Architect – professional level, it would be required to understand how exactly a service accomplishes these task.
- Lets take EC2 for example. (Note: I did not get these questions in my exam, I am just giving a comparable example). In associate level it would be good enough to understand what different state of EC2 instance are start/stop/restart/terminate, and that you can stop and start and EBS backed AMI and retain any state on disk. But in professional level you might be required to understand exactly what happens when you stop an EBS Backed AMI instance; Your root EBS volume is preserved, your instance is released, and when you start the same instance, it will fetch that stored EBS volume and make it the root drive again, thus restoring the state. But the actual physical machine will be different, thus any data stored on Ephemeral drive is gone.
- Similarly you will be needed to understand how ELB does it load balancing, how VPC features like Network ACL, Route Table, etc. work, different connectivity options in VPC like internet gateway and virtual private gateway, etc.
- There were a lot of real-life scenario driven questions. I had to draw a lot of diagrams in my scratchpad to understand the question, and understand the scenario presented. You are in the best position if you are a consultant that works with different clients, and has exposure to a lot of real-life scenario.
- I would recommend going through the AWS architecture designs on their site, and that will certainly help.
- Stepping up the ante, AWS is making sure AWS certified SA-Professional Level can architect cross-region infrastructure.
- On the bight side, the beta costs $150, half of what original exam will cost ($300). Also it seems you will get a free attempt if you fail the beta, when the test comes out of beta. So basically there is no downside of attempting this beta, so just go for it. The last date for taking this beta is Friday, and so you will need to register by Thursday.
Will try to give more details later, but hope my experience helps others be better prepaired 🙂
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