Before starting preparation for this exam, I had zero experience with AWS. But after two months, I’m certified! Do I say that this is an easy exam? NO! Absolutely wrong. The scope of this exam is extremely large and nearly most of the AWS services involved. In this article, I will share how I studied and passed the AWS Certified Solutions Architect (SAA-C02).
My company organized an instructor-led course in the office and I’ve attended for free (Nice benefit!). It is more understandable when you are listening to the instructor teaching with your mother-tongue (My mother-tongue is not English). The other advantage of attending an instructor-led course is that you can ask questions immediately during the class whenever you have doubts about the material presented. It helps you to learn more in-depth and customize. Also, it is a good learning process when your classmates ask as well. Sometimes you just think we know the stuff but when your classmates ask the questions you never think of, you will find that you actually don’t understand the materials at all! This happened many times during my course and we learned a lot throughout this Q&A process.
In the course, we need to do six hands-on labs in Qwiklabs. It is very good practice to do hands-on exercises right after you learn the related concepts. It helps you consolidate what you have just learned by making your hands dirty. But if you don’t have a Qwiklabs account, you can always use AWS free-tiers to do your experiments. There are many hands-on exercise guides on the Internet to guide you using services in AWS. I followed many hands-on practices in ACloudGuru course.
The disadvantage is if you need to pay for this course, it is quite expensive. Another disadvantage is that you cannot replay the lesson, unlike online courses. When I was preparing the exam, I constantly went back and review the content that I forgot. It is possible if you are taking online courses but not in a classroom lesson. You need to drop your own notes during the class.
This course starts with a broad overview of the AWS platform and then deep dive into the individual elements of the AWS platform. You will explore Route53, EC2, S3, CloudFront, Auto Scaling, Load Balancing, RDS, RedShift, DynamoDB, EMR, VPC, etc. ACloudGuru was the perfect place to start. They give lectures and hands-on labs that are informative and will keep you engaged.
They updated this course with new content from around June to July 2020. Since the AWS landscape is continuously changing, it can be challenging to find current resources. There are sections focusing on the new content in SAA-C02, they marked the section with a bracket [SAA-C02]. Pay special attention to these sections as they will occur in the SAA-C02 exam. There are section summaries that help you focus on the most critical parts of each lecture. I recommend you review these summaries before the exam day.
AWSLAGI.COM Practice Exams
For practice exams, I choose awslagi.com . This site with a lot of free practice and a paid version. A paid version include 100% actual exam questions was helped me a lot of. I saved a lot of time for preparation to clear the exam. I highly recommend you should take the Guarantee Part on this site. You can choose both of version are highlighted answers or not. Both of them are really good for you.
You can check release notes for each of course you are interested in before purchase.
Although it is recommended to read all the related whitepapers and learn all the concepts and strategies from them, I didn’t read the whitepapers. AWS has just updated the whitepapers of the Well-Architected Framework and the Five Pillars. If you have sufficient time, reading those whitepapers will be a great supplement to your exam preparations and will help you gain a better understanding of the different AWS services.
Exam Tips For non-native English speakers:
You can request an extra 30 minutes if you are non-native English speakers. Follow the steps in this reference and request accommodation to receive an additional 30 minutes to complete it.
- To request a 30-minute extension for your exam, log in to your AWS Certification account and follow the steps below:
- From the top navigation, click on Upcoming Exams
- On the right, click on the button Request test evaluations
- Click on the Request accommodation button. (Request Exam Accommodations)
- Select ESL +30 Minutes from the accommodation drop-down menu
- Click Create
This accommodation will be approved automatically, so you can proceed to schedule your exam. Although you will sign up for the standard-length exam, PSI has your hosting setup in your system and will receive the 30-minute extension when it is submitted for your exam. This accommodation will also be saved in your AWS Certification Account, so you will not have to re-apply for this accommodation for future exam entries. This extension is automatically applied for the AWS Level Practitioner, AWS Associate Level, AWS Professional Level, and AWS Specialty Level exams.
Finishing the certification is not the end of the story, in fact, this is just the beginning of my cloud journey. If you are interested, join me on this journey. I didn’t pass the exam with a high score, just barely passed. I still have a lot of things to learn about AWS. The exam motivated me to learn all these latest cloud technologies and the exam result keeps me learning. It is a life long learning process! I wish you the best of luck! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave a response, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.