AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner which I completed is for those who have little no knowledge about AWS Cloud like me. This is the foundation and a gateway to AWS Cloud. Roughly, it took me 2 months to prepare ending with 2 weeks of serious head down study and practice.
If you are thinking of getting AWS Certified, and don’t know how and where to start. Well, let me tell you that “how” and “where” aren’t the vital questions. The question is WHY do you want to become Certified. My mentor said
“Your WHY has to be strong enough to keep you motivated”
How can I demonstrate officially that I have the required knowledge of the cloud?
I believe Cloud computing is the future and I want to be ready for it.
Now, that my motivation overtook my eagerness, I booked the exam first (I tend to be at my best when I have a deadline and under pressure), I researched on the study material and found out there is ocean of material out there and felt lost with the though of which one to choose. Luckily, I already had professional friends who are already Cloud Certified Engineers and already half way through the entire AWS Certification stack, who suggested me few vital resources such as, A Cloud Guru and Amazon Official Training to name a few critical for preparing. I will delve deeper on this and others later on. As soon as they told me these resources, I started to study for the exam in the evenings from the same day excitedly.
I used three resources which are below and respective stories below how they became final from the ocean of materials out there.
Official Online Course & Practice Exam
Signed up for Amazon training account and started the online Cloud Practitioner course taught by AWS staff (no chance of information being outdated there). Very informative. I finished that in 3 days. Wanted to validate fresh knowledge, hence, took their official practice test (step 4 on when the page open), which, by the way costs AU$14. I found this a little bit expensive and I am sure you will too once you know that it doesn’t provide exam simulations. The real exam has 65 questions need to be done in 90 minutes, however, the test only had 25 or 30 questions in 25 minutes (from the top of my head – it might have been changed now). However, you do get an idea of the exam format and structure will be like. Anyway, I scored 92%. Just by studying 3 days. I felt like opening my own Cloud Consultancy Company.
At this point, I told my friend, Paul Kukiel and he recommended me to do a course on Cloud Practitioner just to ensure, I didn’t miss any loose ends. Taking the experienced’s suggestion, I signed up for the 7 days’ trial of AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner by the legendary, Ryan Kroonenburg.
The course was very well laid loud. Unlike AWS official course, it had short videos, surprisingly hand on labs too and included Exam Tips. WOW, Right!? As I was a bit tight on finances, I planned to finish the course in the trial period and read online that I can get free videos of the download course on my mobile. So, downloaded the videos on my phone and begun to study. All the concepts became clear because of hands on labs followed my lectures. Now, I was about to apply for a startup company grant. Just joking. I thought why not test my knowledge by taking the practice exams.
Udemy Practice Exams – Bit of a tragedy(my fault)
I searched for practice exams on Udemy and there were three kind of tests, two for All Levels and one for beginner. I bought the one with All Levels for $14.99 because they had the most good reviews and were said to be “Highly recommended” before sitting the real exam as it simulated the real exam environment and when it shows you’re the result at the end, it also shows your weak and strong areas, so that you can study the specific areas more than the others. Additionally, it give you detailed explanation of why the answers were right(for the ones were right) and why ones were wrong. Felt scared and excited simultaneously.
As I took one off six practice exam, I found out that I didn’t know 60% of the questions and failed miserably when the result screen showed. I felt extremely curious to find out and started to dig down the questions I answered to know why were they wrong, why I didn’t know about them and was pretty confident that it wasn’t covered in the lectures of ACG at all. After bit of research, I find out that some question came from Developer Associate and Solutions Architect course too. At this point I understood that the exam is for ALL LEVELS which means not just the basic knowledge however, intermediate and advanced.
So, I got a refund from them for downloading the wrong practice exams. Udemy were really efficient and fast (same day) to process the refund. Then, I got the Beginner’s Level practice exam. The next day, took the first one out of six and thankfully, the questions were within the scope. I started the practice exams a week before sitting the real exam. So, one each day. I was passing all the exams and confidence was boosting again. Even though, I was getting few questions wrong however, I delve on the wrong answers enough that I fully understood the concept. It makes sense because why would you want to dig deeper on the concepts you already fully understand. As I finished the last exam, I was pretty confident that the certification is in the bag already. That being said, I didn’t want to be over confident at all.
Day before the BIG DAY
So, a day before the exam, I searched on tips and tricks on what to do a day before and on the exam. An article by Thomas, Linux Academy Blog, https://linuxacademy.com/blog/amazon-web-services-2/tips-tricks-taking-an-aws-certification-exam/ helped me a lot while getting in the real exam mindset.
As advised in the article, I stopped studying at 6pm, just relaxed by doing some online coding challenges (my meditation) and went to bed at 10pm to get 8 hour sleep.
Woke up at 6am, had a shower, prayed (I do that everyday to thank the Almighty for his blessing and giving me another day to chase my dreams), worked out, had breakfast and started reading my book (keeps me relaxed too). The exam was at 1pm and the venue was just 10 minute walk from my address. Left home at 12:30pm and reached 12:40pm. Waited in the foyer for 3 minutes as it says on the email that arrive up to 15 minutes early. Arrived at the reception at 12:45pm. Having gone through all the paperwork, I went and used the toilet (just in case – I didn’t want to waste time going to it whilst the exam is in progress). As my mind was already prepared to do the things (put belongings in the locker, pocket should all be empty, even your socks), I wasn’t surprised when I was asked to do so. Now I was taken to the exam room. I had never experienced such quietness my entire life. It was worse than pin drop silence. I was shown my desk, given a piece of paper and pen and was left alone.
Entered my full name and clicked next on the screen. A disclaimer appeared and the exam wouldn’t start until I agreed to the disclaimer. As suggest in the above linked article by Thomas, I drew different diagrams of different concepts on the paper I was given, in case I forget something in the middle. Then clicked agreed and the exam started.
Even though it was a surprise when I saw total number of questions were 65 not 60, I kept calm and I followed my own strategy (below) while going through questions :
- In 30 seconds, I don’t know the answer, I only flagged it and moved on.
- I wasn’t 100% sure of the answer, I answered what I thought it should be, flagged and moved on.
- I was 100% sure of the answer, I just answered and won’t come back to it.
In around 30 minutes, I went through all the questions. Now, I had more than enough time to go through the others (only flagged and answered & flagged ones). After another 30 minutes, I was pretty happy with my responses and verified that ALL the questions have been answered. Once done, I finished the test.
At the end, when I expected to see the result, I had to fill a survey of 10 (from the top of my head) questions. With every question, my heart beat got faster and faster. Last survey question answered, and the screen took about 30 seconds to load the result screen. Loading.. Loading.. Loading… My hard work paid off when I saw the words, Congratulation and Passed.
The next thing of getting Developer – Associate came straight into my mind. So, currently studying for that. As soon as I sit the exam, get the good news, I’ll be writing about that journey too.