Preparing for AWS Certification — Solutions Architect Associate

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I have recently gotten my AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate certificate. In this post, I will share how I prepared for the exam and the resources that helped me get certified. You should be able to use this post as a high-level guide on where to start and how to prepare for the certification exam.

If you are unsure if you should get certified or not, AWS is currently the largest cloud service provider with over 100 cloud services under its belt. In fact, according to TechCrunch it is 10 times bigger than its next 14 competitors. AWS is currently one of the highest-paid IT certifications out there according to Forbes. Unlike other IT certifications, AWS certification does not require you to take expensive training and pay a large amount of money for undertaking the exam.

Overview of Exam

  1. Define a solution using architectural design principles based on customer requirements.
  2. Provide implementation guidance based on best practices to the organization throughout the life-cycle of the project.

It is not clear how much you need to score in order to pass the exam. The passing score is set by using statistical analysis and are subject to change without notice. However I believe you should surely pass if your score is over 75%.

Online course

I suggest you to finish this course before doing anything else. This course alone might be enough for you to pass the exam. This is a must-have if you plan to ever sit for the exam.

Practice Test


  1. Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2)
  2. Simple Storage Service (S3)
  3. Virtual Private Cloud (VPC
  4. Auto Scaling
  5. Load Balancer
  6. Route 53
  7. Simple Queue Service (SQS)
  8. Identity Access Management (IAM)

Key Topics

  1. Understand Virtualization types. Difference between ParaVirtual (PV) and Hardware Virtual Machine (HVM)
  2. Understand NAT and Bastion hosts.
  3. Understand VPC inside out. This is very important.
  4. Know the difference between AD Connector and Simple AD in ADS.
  5. Understand Route 53 inside out. Difference between DNS and Alias records.
  6. Different EC2 instance types.
  7. When to use SQS vs SWF.
  8. What can Trusted Advisor do for you?
  9. Difference between SQS and SNS. SQS pulls and SNS is push-based messaging.
  10. Spot instances and how it can save money.
  11. Difference between S3 storage classes.
  12. Cross Account Access with Roles.
  13. AWS best practices White Paper.
  14. Difference between AWS regions, Availability Zones (AZs) and Edge Locations.
  15. Types of EBS volumes. Difference between each volumes.
  16. Cloud Watch alarms and what it can do.

Other Resources

  1. AWS exam cheatsheet. (Recommended)
  2. Popular section in acloudguru forum. (Recommended)

Booking an Exam


I have received both the AWS Certified Solutions Architect and Developer Associate certification. Soon, I will write a preparation guide for Developer Associate exam. Feel free to leave a comment if you think I have missed some important topic or just want to say hello.

Lead Software Engineer at A Cloud Guru