Earlier this year I cleared the AWS Certified Developer Associate (CDA) exam (I forgot to write a post about it apparently). While it was interesting and the material was surely beneficial, I realized halfway through my studying process that I was more interested in an architect role.
The CDA exam was very much focused on the hands-on developer work (how to properly setup lambda/SQS/elastic beanstalk …) while the SAA covers the architecture patterns frequently used in the cloud (High Availability, Scalability) while focusing much of the material on cost-efficiency.
The breadth of services covered is also a lot wider.
I finally was able to wrap my head around the concept of a VPC and gain an understanding of the higher level networking concepts associated with that.
Now because this is an MCQ type exam and not a hands-on exam like the CK* certs, it completely changed how I approached it.
First, I picked a course on Udemy. I went with the Digital Cloud Training one because it was on sale at the time. (For the CDA, I used Stephane Maarek’s course). I also purchased the set of practice exams associated with the course for an additional 12 euros. On top of this, I signed up for tutorials dojo and purchased the practice tests there too.
I watched the entire course and took initial notes. Then moved on to the TD practice tests (review mode and timed mode). After that, I tackled the DCT practice tests. They were the closest to the real exam in terms of question structure. I was very surprised to find that in my exam set I would come across similar scenarios almost word for word.
I would score an average of 79% during practice. Because of that, I decided to go back to the course and take better notes to absorb more of the information and fill my knowledge gaps.
When I was done, I went back to practice until the day of the exam.
The SAA is focused on easing the burden on the companies who wish to migrate to the cloud by making their transition as smooth, secure and cost-effective as possible. So think high availability (cross-region/multi AZ), saving costs (read the pricing pages of some of the more important services like EC2, S3 etc.) and security (KMS, TLS …). One thing that helped me was to watch some AWS conference lectures on YouTube. The one about VPCs is a MUST WATCH in my opinion, this is when it clicked for me. If you’re not in a rush like I was, I would also suggest doing the hands on labs too in your own AWS account. Some of the more obscure configuration options might actually come up in the exam.
A word of advice
Consistency and repetition is key to retain the information. Fight through the doubt and uncertainty and hope for the best.
You can do it !