In this blog, I will explain how I passed the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam. This might help you in your journey to pass the exam. Enjoy!
First of all, why did I want to pass the exam? It all started when I wrote a blog how to create a deployment pipeline in AWS. CI/CD tooling is one of my interests and I wanted to know how this was done in the cloud. Before that, I also experimented with some of the Google Cloud services. So, I got this idea that I wanted to learn more about one of these cloud offerings. After some investigation, it was clear to me that AWS is still the major cloud vendor although Google Cloud and Azure are on the rise. However, I made the decision that it was wise to learn more about AWS services. Note, that I did not have any hands-on experience in cloud development before and certainly not with AWS.
2. Which Course?
I wanted to learn by means of a course and searched for the best AWS Certified Developer – Associate courses. Quickly it appeared to me that the Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate 2022 by Stephane Maarek was the one I had to follow. At that time, it was the 2021 version though, but I will elaborate more on the timeline and time spent later on. The course covers most of the topics you need to know for the exam and you will have a good base of knowledge about 30 AWS services.
The course is a mixture of explaining the services and hands-on exercises. It also comes with approximately 850 slides which you can use for studying and with one practice exam. The hands-on exercises are not documented and Stephane executes them very quickly. I used to execute the identical steps he was doing in my AWS account, but this meant that I had to play the video for some seconds, stop it, execute in in my environment, continue the video, stop it, etc. In the meanwhile, I also made notes in order that I was able to execute the exercise again when I wanted to without watching the video again.
The course is regularly updated. This is a good thing, because the course is continuously improving and in line with what you need to know for the exam. I encountered one major update where some chapters were shifted. That was a bit confusing at first. Most of the time, only minor updates are done.
After taking the course, I realized that I also needed some hands-on experience with AWS services. So, I made a list of topics which I wanted to explore more and I wrote nine blogs about it. My initial list was longer, but due to available time, I had to cut it off.
- How to Create an AWS EC2 VM
- How to Create an AWS ALB and ASG
- How to Deploy a Spring Boot App on AWS ECS Cluster
- How to Deploy a Spring Boot App on AWS Fargate
- How to Create an AWS CloudFormation Fargate Template
- AWS Lambda Versions and Aliases Explained By Example
- How to Secure AWS API Gateway With Cognito User Pool
- An Introduction to AWS Serverless Application Model
- An Introduction to AWS Step Functions
Writing these blogs really helped me in understanding these topics much better. Also, while studying, I noticed that I did not have to put much effort in these topics anymore.
How much effort did it took me? To be honest, more than I initially expected. I started in March 2021 and my initial plan was to take the exam the latest in December 2021. In the end, I passed the exam in July 2022. In the paragraphs below, I will try to quantify this a bit more.
Finishing the course took me about 60 hours in the period of time between March and April 2021. I was granted to spend this time during working hours. The duration of the course in Udemy indicates that it contains 27 hours of video, but as already said before, Stephane executes the hands-on exercises very quickly. Taking notes and trying to execute the same steps as he does, took me more than double the time of the length of the videos. In the meanwhile, I also tried to recap the slides of videos I had seen. But remember, these are 850 slides. It took me initially 10 to 12 hours.
After the course, I started to write some blogs. I wrote nine blogs and for each blog it takes me between 8 to 16 hours to finish it. Approximately it took me 9 times 12 hours (as an average), which is 108 hours. I wrote the last blog in March 2022. I did not hurry with this. I wrote the blogs in the period of time between June 2021 and March 2022.
In the meanwhile, due to some personal circumstances, I had to put the AWS exam on hold for awhile in order to give some priority to my personal life. This was solved somewhere mid June and I made up my mind to start studying again for the AWS exam. My goal was to take the exam before I would go on holiday end of July 2022. I recapped the slides 4 times, each time it took on average 10 hours.
The course contains a practice exam which ressembles the real exam quite well. Taking the exam took me about an hour. After the exam, you can see how you score on certain topics and the answers are extensively documented. Checking the answers costed me between 30 and 60 minutes.
I wanted to practice more exams and therefore I used the Practice Exams | AWS Certified Developer Associate 2022 by Stephane Maarek and Abhishek Singh. Practicing these exams gave me good feedback on which topics I knew and which ones needed more attention. I also started to read some topics in the AWS documentation in order to understand them better. I passed the first two exams with a score in the seventies, the others (after studying the slides again and reading some extra documentation) between 80% and 90%. For the last exams, there was not one topic with a bad score. That was the moment I knew I was ready for the exam.
To conclude with, it took me about 250 hours to prepare for the exam.
I scheduled the online exam at PSI. The exam took me about 2 hours to finish. The questions were more elaborate than the practice exams. There is just more text to read and you need to read the text carefully in order to be able to pick the correct answer. When you think more than one answer is correct, you probably missed something in the text.
Do keep in mind that you will get some questions which are not covered in the course. In my case, there were three to four questions which did not ring a bell. Sometimes you will be able to guess the answer, sometimes you will not have a clue. So ensure you have passed the practice exams with a decent margin above the required 720 passing score.
I was hoping to get the result immediately, but that was not the case. I received the good news the day after I took the exam 🙂
The course, practice exams and the exam itself are not free. Sometimes you can get a discount at Udemy. The course for example is about 125 euro, but I could purchase it for 12 euro. Nonetheless, when you need to pay the full price, the total amount you need to spend is a bit less than 400 euro.
The AWS account itself is free. Almost all hands-on exercises can be executed within the free tier.
Some words of wisdom to conclude with. I underestimated the time it would cost me to prepare for this exam. The AWS services are not extremely difficult to understand, it is the amount of services you need to know which makes it difficult. This was definitely one of the more challenging exams I took during my professional life.