Using your study plan

Format of the training plan:

The training plan I’ve set up is basically your way of staying on track, and seeing upfront what effort is involved.

You can download a copy in either Excel format here or OpenOffice format here.

I’ll quickly go through how we’ll use it:

Calibrating your effort

The most important part to be aware of upfront is the estimates vs actual column. The worksheet contains an example, which I’ve shown.

We’ll project our future effort by reviewing our estimates

Why estimates are important

If you haven’t already read about how to calibrate your training plan – the idea is that we use our first week to project the estimated vs actual effort for the next month. This is for 2 reasons:

1) To see how optimistic we might be (for example, perhaps we’re 25% too optimistic, and need to be aware of that when planning)
2) To give us a forecast for the remaining weeks – we can either abandon this altogether, look to commit more hours per week, or accept we’ll take a few more weeks to there there. Any of these reasons are fine, the important thing is to be conscious about this decision!

So in the example at the top of the sheet, we can see that a commitment of 7 hours in week 1 was very optimistic – I took longer on most tasks, and I didn’t even get to my stretch goal of making security flashcards. All this means that I need to work out a way of fitting the goals in to the week, or using more weeks to get there.

I can’t say how long you guys will take to get through each topic, so you’ll need to calibrate your own times based on what you discover in Week 1.

Review your estimates/progress monthly

I’d recommend that you look at your estimates vs actual once a month and see how you’re tracking. There’s a few advantages to doing this:

  • A month is long enough that you can start to get a feel for your own pace, but short enough that you can adjust course.
  • After a few weeks, you’ll likely find your estimates will get closer to the actual, you’ll realise you’re progressing quicker than you thought, or that ‘life gets in the way’ more than you thought.
  • It will help you keep the end in sight – we’re trying to get exam ready and this review is a nice little ‘mental reset’ to see where we are.

Documentation Links

Next, take a look at the “Tasks” column within the study plan. I’ve linked you off to the places that (at the time of writing) that contain the reference material from the AWS website. We’ll be using learning techniques to distill what we need for the exam.

For example, there is a link to an overview of AWS Web Services at the start of the study plan. We will distill the useful info from the content, and set up flashcards to train ourselves to recall it.

Flashcard links

To get you started, I’ve included some links using a tool called Cram. Now, this is just to make it easy to see the format of flashcards, since Cram is an app I personally pay to use.

You are welcome to download these sets as CSV (and import them into a free tool such as Anki ( – Anki has all the advantages of Cram in as much as you can sync between mobile and web, so you can use that for your flashcard creation.

You’ll create your own links to flashcards as we go though – it’s your study and so you’ll build your own experience of AWS concepts as we go. Don’t worry it will all become clear.

We’ll link off to our flashcards as we go through the plan, then we have a ‘one stop shop’ for all the supporting info for our study. By the end it would look something like the following, with our flashcards available as links:

Wrap up

So to recap what we’re doing before moving onto the first bit of study:

1) The training plan contains columns for you to track estimated times, actual times and notes as you study
2) The training plan has an example flashcards for some base AWS concepts
3) You’ll create your own flashcards as you explore the AWS concepts – Anki is a free tool for this
4) As you commit time to your study, the difference between estimates and actual times will become apparent – try and make your estimates more accurate week by week.

With the preliminary stuff out of the way, let’s go onto the actual cloud concepts that AWS is based on….