In today’s blog I wanted to share how I recently passed (barely by 15 points­čśČ) the AWS SysOps Admin (SOA-C02) exam. This is the hardest of the 3 AWS associate exams! Below we’re going to talk about my testing experience with Pearson Vue, the layout of the exam, exam objects and my recommendations for prep. Specifically, we’re going to cover the following:

  • How I Passed The AWS SysOps Admin By 15 Points
  • AWS SOA-C02 Exam Overview
  • AWS SysOps Admin Domain 1: Monitoring, Logging, and Remediation
  • AWS SysOps Admin Domain 2: Reliability and Business Continuity
  • AWS SysOps Admin Domain 3: Deployment, Provisioning, and Automation
  • AWS SysOps Admin Domain 4: Security and Compliance 23:45
  • AWS SysOps Admin Domain 5: Networking and Content Delivery
  • AWS SysOps Admin Domain 6: Cost and Performance Optimization 30:00
  • AWS Exam Score, Vouchers, and Free Labs
  • AWS SysOps Admin Study Materials
  • AWS Study, Lab, and Exam Cost Breakdown

Check out the below video for an in-depth breakdown of all of these topics!





Since the 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 crazy AWS SysOps Exam adventure…

My SysOps exam was on a Thursday. Or so I thought, I got a text yesterday at 2:30 PM the day before, saying I missed my 1 PM slot but they still had room for me. You can’t reschedule exams within 24 hrs from Pearson Vue without forfeiting the exam fee, so…I drove over, stressed out and not in a good mental space.

I took the full 3 hours because I had issues with two of the labs. I blew the last one on something I knew I needed to do (and could do) but hadn’t done before. Couldn’t find the toggle for it! I went home stressed and dejected. IT WAS A LONG NIGHT!!!

But…I found out the next morning I passed by 15 points. One thing I’ve seen a lot of folks ask, so I figured I’d share it here is how long it takes to receive the score report and find out if you passed (especially for this test since the lab needs to be graded). I finished my exam at 6PM and got my score report/Credly email at 5:30 AM ET, so less than 12 hours.

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There were three labs on the exam, and they were covering AWS Backups, Cloudformation, and S3/Route Route53. This is the only AWS Associate exam with labs. I actually liked them, even though they kicked my butt!

The study material I used was ExamPro’s Course and the Tutorial Dojo practice tests. This was a pretty challenging exam on top of my scheduling induced last minute stress bomb. I don’t have any operational AWS experience (but I am an network/cybersecurity architect w/ 19 yrs experience), so I imagine those with a few years of hands on AWS work probably would find it a bit easier (but not easy). I did this exam as a progression step for the Advanced Networking Specialty. I also recently passed the CCSP, so it was interesting to contrast the difficulty for both of these.

Doing hands on labs was a hugely important part in the learning process for this exam. I have been making a bunch lab/practice test videos for this exam (also applicable to the AWS Certified Solutions Architect, SAA). You can find them in this playlist. AWS also offers a free lab for you to try out when you sign up for the exam. I 100% recommend you check that out so you can get a feel for what the real lab environment is like when you actually take the exam.

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Also, make sure you take advantage of the 50% off voucher you get when you pass an AWS exam. I had passed my AWS Cloud Certified Practitioner exam last year, so I was able to get this exam for only $75!

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So, if you’re interested in this exam, just be prepared that it is quite challenging. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam covers what services you should choose to do things within AWS. But this exam covers which services, how to configure them, and how to troubleshoot them! Most recommend starting with the SAA, and after having done the SysOps Admin first, I can see why.

Network Knowledge Wrap Up

A great resource on learning AWS networking, is the AWS Networking Fundamentals book (Affiliate Code)

I’ve also recently started using the AWS Security Cookbook (Affiliate Code) and AWS Advanced Networking book (Affiliate Code). Both breakdown topics very well and have some great labs!

AWS SysOps Admin Exam Guide

ExamPro SOA Course

Tutorial Dojo SysOps Admin Practice Tests