In today’s blog we’re talking about how I recently passed my second AWS Associate Exam this month (the AWS Solutions Architect Associate or SAA). I totally did things backwards and did the harder AWS associate cert first. I first studied for about 3 months for the AWS SysOps Admin (SOA) exam and passed the second week of June. You can find my blog covering that exam here. After having passing both the SAA and the SOA I would compare them like this. The SAA wants you to be able to pick the right AWS services to meet a clients operational, technical, and budgetary goals. The SOA wants you to not only identify those services but be able to configure and troubleshoot issues with them.
In studying for the SOA exam, I had done a lot of labs and practice tests in prep (shout out to Tutorial Dojo) and after reading the SAA exam overview and reading other folks’ experiences, I felt there would be plenty of overlap with the learning objectives. So, I prepped for two weeks and went and passed the exam! In the video below, I discuss in depth my testing experience with Pearson Vue, the layout of the exam, exam objectives, and my recommendations for prep. It’s worth noting that the current exam is about to transition from SAA-C02 to SAA-C03 in August 2022. But no worries, in the video we cover the differences and highlight all the learning objectives that you need to make sure you are studying for!
Since the above video goes much more in depth on all the topics you really need to study, I’m just going to give you the Cliff Notes version of my AWS SAA experience…
My SAA exam was on a Thursday and went to the local Pearson Vue spot by my house. The check-in was fine as I had recently took some other in-person exams(AWS SOA and ICS2 CCSP) and was familiar with the ID, temp check, and storing of personal belongs in a locker. Having recently taken the SOA I was interested to see how it was compared to that. It was much easier than the SOA, but I feel that was more so due to my prep for the SOA, than it being an easy exam. I used all but 30 mins of the time (you have 130 minutes). I had flagged 17 questions that I was on the fence about and think I only ended up changing maybe 1 or 2 upon review. I always recommend flagging questions, because you never know when you will run into some info or the answer to a question in another question. You need a 720 to pass and I ended up with a 813.
One major difference between the SOA and the SAA is that there are no labs to do. So it was just the 65 questions, which I believe only 50 are actually scored. It’s also worth noting with this exam (like the SOA) you don’t get the score at the end of the exam. I had to wait until the next morning until my email came in saying I had been awarded a new cert on Credly.
Since I had mainly done my studying for the AWS SOA with the ExamPro SOA course, really my only resource I used for this was the Tutorial Dojo SAA Practice tests and the AWS SAA Exam Guide to look up items that weren’t covered in the SOA. Below you can find a reasonable price list for studying for the exam (don’t forget you get a 50% off voucher every time you pass an AWS exam for you to use on your next exam!). I would 100% recommend that you do some lab work for this. The point of studying for this is so that you do know what you are talking about and making the right decisions. I don’t think you’re doing yourself justice if you are only learning that from a course and not actually getting into the AWS console yourself!
While I cover this in the above video, Cloud Academy has a great breakdown on the difference between the AWS SAA-CO2 and SAA-C03. Below is a summarization from their website of the 4 AWS SAA domains and topics you should be familiar with.
Lastly, if you are starting to learn about AWS, it is worth noting that I’ve been making a lot of AWS lab and AWS tutorial walkthrough videos. You can find them in this playlist.
Network Knowledge Wrap Up
A great resource on learning AWS networking, is the AWS Networking Fundamentals book (Affiliate Code)