Obtained the AWS Solution Architect Associate Certification

I wanted to capture my experience working towards attaining the AWS SAA certification in hopes that this helps others on the same journey. This information is up to date as of 12/06/2021.

BACKGROUND

I first started working on getting the SAA back in middle 2020. I am the type that I like to¬† book the exam and then start planning for it. So, I booked the exam for August 19, 2020. At the time I used Adrian Cantril’s course. Which, I’ll be honest is great, very detailed. However, for me I was not ready for that type of detail and it was hard for me to focus and make time for the videos. I started strong, but started falling behind and was never able to catch up. On my first attempt I failed.

AWS SAA Failed Report

AWS SAA Failed Report

GETTING OVER THE HUMP

In the summer of 2021, on my city’s Slack, a few of us started talking about wanting to renew or pass an AWS certification. I put together a quick Google Sheet for people to talk about what they were trying to achieve and why. From there we had an initial meeting in early July and then decided to meet every Monday. One Monday in person and the next virtually via Webex. We ended with 4 total participants. 3 of us going for the SAA and 1 for Security. This was great as it created a constant reminder that I needed to study and stay with the group. I highly recommend to join or start a study group. The extra motivation helped me stay on track.

RESOURCES

As a group we talked about what resources worked best and compared notes about what we’ve checked out and what we liked/disliked about them. At the end of the day we all focused on a single primary resource. I personally supplemented my studies with a few other just to get multiple perspectives. Here’s what I used and in the order I used them:

A Cloud Guru (primary resource)

Tutorials Dojo Study Guide eBook (I printed this out and had it bound and would keep next to my bed to review the parts I felt that I needed further review)

Tutorials Dojo SAA Practice Exams

r/AWSCertifications

I enjoyed ACG’s video course. The videos were short and full of information and while the labs were ok, the gold was found in the videos alone. The TD eBook was good too, but I would skip it if you want to save money. Finally, the week before the exam I would go through practice exam question and read in detail the description for the questions I failed. Additionally, I would then go to the AWS documentation and get a bit more in depth to hopefully gain some new knowledge. I kept an eye on Reddit to see what others who had taken the test had to say about the topics covered. This allowed me to focus my studies. Personally, I feel that the practice exams was what got me to pass the exam. Not only because I was very used to the question style, but I was able to get a good feel for spotting the gotchas in the answers.

My exam had a lot of EFS, auto scaling, application and network load balancing. Good luck!

~david

PS: From our group all 3 passed the SAA and in a few days the last member of our study group will take the security exam and I’m sure will pass.