Targeting your AWS Certification study efforts

Given how vast the AWS ecosystem is, it’s pretty important to be able to target your study efforts. You don’t want to be focusing on some interesting technology that has nothing to do with what you will be tested on. That said, you also don’t want to be just learning subjects by rote, it’s important to be able to understand and re-apply concepts.

TLDR : If you’re interested in how to build your own training plan, you can keep reading, but if you’re just after the guide itself, that’s fine too – you can sign up here.

But you might this useful for for understanding your own gaps and coming up with strategies for planning for exams other than just this qualification. What I’ve put in the following pages is a how-to-guide for deciphering exam guides and working out where to focus your efforts.

Whilst the final training plan has been refined (for your convenience) with the benefit of hindsight, I was pleased to see that the steps I took first time round weren’t too far from the end product at all. So I feel there’s value in knowing the process I followed.

Step 1 – find out what others experienced in the exam

You can search Quora, Reddit and Google etc for what people say will feature. Work colleagues I spoke to gave me a fairly comprehensive breakdown of their experience with the exam.

I’ve distilled these and added my own ‘in-hindsight’ experience (I took the exam March 2020). The consensus view, the stuff that seems to be consistent and applies to everyone is as follows:

Know in detail:

Know at a high level:

Step 2 – look at a sample exam for some extra pointers

I looked at both the questions and the answers in the sample exam to see the breadth of technologies that might feature. I used the cut down sample exam guide from the AWS Site.

Subjects covered in sample

Questions covered the following:

Dynamo DB

Answers revealed the following additional subjects:

Security Groups
Service Limits

Step 3 – Don’t assume that a multiple choice exam will be easy

Multiple choice, should be easy right? Should be able to eliminate a couple of options just like that.

Well yep, but the questions are subtly different, and there can be two answers that are valid but only one is correct in that context. Other questions do require some low level of rote learning – so if you are guessing too many answers, you have a good chance of dropping marks.

I make no apologies for saying this again and again, most of your effort should be focused on building fundamentals, so questions in a different format won’t surprise you.

Step 4 – You need to ‘know what you don’t know’

If I study exam papers alone, I get good at passing those specific exam papers. What I don’t know from passing those papers though is what percentage of exam material I’ve actually covered. We will do plenty of practice papers later, but when we’re ready.

Have I got 50% of the syllabus covered by doing practice papers? 75%? 10%?

If instead I take a look at the exam blueprint and the exam guide, I have a chance of understanding the overall ‘realm’ of content that you might be expected to know about AWS. Otherwise you’re highly likely to get thrown a curve ball in the exam. That’s the next step in our plan so we can build a customised plan.