If you are considering attempting the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Certification and are looking for help regarding the exam or simply researching content to help study for the certification, you’ve come to the right spot. This blog will help you to understand the certification details, the contents, and the most frequently quizzed topics and also provide helpful study guides, practice exams, and workshops that you can use to better prepare for your preparation.
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AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Overview
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional certification is considered the most complex certification in the AWS ecosystem. Many professionals who have passed complex certifications, such as the PMI’s Project Management Professional and ISC2’s Certified Information Systems Security Professional, rate the SA-Pro cert as harder to pass compared to.
The complexity of the Professional Certification Exam
This is because the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional certification challenges your knowledge of a vast range of AWS services it also digs deeper into details about each service and questions your ability to create dynamic, multi-service architecture that fits AWS best practices.
Secondly, the exam questions make excellent use of what AWS terms “Distractors” – Carefully crafted words and scenarios that are plausible enough to make you second guess yourself. Distractors can cause someone with incomplete knowledge to take more time than required for questions, where the third problem starts.
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional is a mentally tiresome and challenging examination. Candidates are required to complete 75 questions in around 3 hours. Mathematically, this does not seem like a challenge (you should use 2 minutes for each question, which gives you just enough time to revise and fix any errors).
In reality, the questions are complex, and the scenarios are long. It is not uncommon for candidates to get stuck in a question and realize that they have spent much more than the 2 minutes set for a question. From my personal experience, I’ve had to use every single minute for the SA-Pro certification, a feat no other certification has yet managed to make me go through.
As for the scope of the services covered in this certification, you can reference AWS’s documentation. The Solutions Architect – Professional exam requires in-depth, hands-on knowledge of an extensive range of AWS services while having experience in using multiple services to create new solutions.
Top Instructor Lead Courses
While it is imperative to state that nothing beats hands-on experience while attempting an AWS Certification, you will be best served with experience plus well-crafted, thoughtful courses designed to help guide you through the AWS Solutions Architect professional certification.
In my attempt at the certification, I reviewed advice and suggestions from respected peers who had previously attempted and passed (and failed) the certification for study material. One name and instructor that came up multiple times was Stephane Maarek.
Stephan is an AWS Certified Solutions Architect, A software developer, and a DevOps consultant. He is an acclaimed teacher boasting more than a million students and half a million glowing reviews. Naturally, I opted for his course on Udemy; based on my opinion, this is the best AWS CSA training. Also, Stephen provides an AWS CSA Pro certification training course which is worth taking.
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As an additional option, I decided to branch out of Udemy and searched for another option for my study. I ran into a study guide by Adrian Cantrill. Adrian is a Senior AWS Solutions Architect and Consultant. He was part of the famous teaching organization Linux Academy and had over two hundred thousand students enrolled in his teaching courses. What I found most interesting about his AWS Solution Architect Professional Course was that there were real-life scenarios and examples. He takes a problem and guides you into creating solutions for them using AWS services which are expected in the actual exam. The questions in his course were tailored to mimic the experience you would face in the exam. His AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional training course was a valuable asset to my training curriculum.
If you have a Wizlabs subscription or are looking for additional sources of quality coaching, the Wizlabs AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional training course is the perfect fit. Wizlabs specifically tailored course gives you a mix of training and testing. They have a wide variety of practice labs and questions that you can use to test how well your training is going and gauge your readiness to attempt the actual thing.
Top Self-Paced Courses
You will also need reading and researching besides instructor-led courses and training. AWS publishes its white papers and study guides which are free and always available. You can browse the AWS Certification page and scroll to the bottom to find the AWS certification exam guides and whitepapers.
Also available from AWS is the AWS Exam Preparation guide. This can help you test out the waters and let you know your current knowledge and preparation level.
Free Training Material
While the above materials are incredible with the knowledge and training they can provide, we realize that not many people have a ton of money to throw away on tutorials, training videos, and labs. Many amazing free materials are available to help you study for this gruesomely challenging Certification.
You can hop on to youtube and visit Go cloud Architects. The channel has an entire playlist dedicated to the AWS Solution Architect Professional certification. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional | AWS SAP | Full FREE AWS Video Course consists of 5 videos, roughly 3 hours each which will provide you with a lot of content beneficial for your preparation.
You can also use Digital Cloud’s free practice questions to test your knowledge and identify areas you need to focus more on before attempting the actual thing.
Also, AWS reInvent videos can provide you with a ton of insight into new services that are a part of the exams. These are demos and training videos straight from the people that design these services and solutions and can be a valuable asset.
Hands-on Labs and Practice Exams
Just learning training videos and instructor lead sessions can become exhaustive and monotonous. Luckily there are a vast number of resources that can help you attempt actual training and practice questions. Doing so helps you mimic a real test environment and can help with the preparation and train you for time management, which will be much needed while attempting this certification.
My preferred choice was the Tutorials Dojo Practice Exam bundle.
A selection of 4 practice exams of 75 questions each to be attempted in 3 hours. These exam questions challenged an understanding of the subject matter while simulating the time constraint.
My initial results were horrendous. I would either run out of time or fail with 40 ~ 50 percent. However, the practice exams have a helpful design. There is a comprehensive explanation of the correct option and details about the AWS Service that the questions came from. By going through my exam results, I could identify the areas where my knowledge was lacking, and I could go back and brush up on them. Ultimately that allowed me to be better prepared and routinely achieve 80~90 percent in the subsequent attempts.
You can opt for more Practice exams from Udemy – This is a bundle of 6 exams, each containing 25 questions. While the exams do not replicate the real-life, stressful time constraint of the actual exam, they have detailed explanations that will aid you in your study sessions.
Lastly, Braincert has some amazing content if you need additional help.
Certification Rated Books
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional course stresses heavily networking and efficient, secure network configuration. Since most of my work is with storage, compute, and Serverless, my networking knowledge has gotten a little rusty. This book was written by 6 AWS Solutions Architects and is a must-have and must-study for attempting the AWS Networking Speciality Certification. However, I found the knowledge extremely helpful in increasing my networking knowledge before attempting the SA-Pro certification.
The AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty Exam Guide is a book designed to help readers prepare for and pass the AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty exam. The book covers various topics related to networking on the AWS platform, including designing and implementing network architectures, troubleshooting networking issues, and managing network traffic.
In addition, the book includes a practice exam to help readers test their knowledge and prepare for the real thing. Whether you’re looking to add the AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty designation to your resume or improve your understanding of AWS networking, this book is an essential resource.
Here are some most important chapters from the table of contents:
- Overview of AWS Certified Advanced Networking –Specialty certification
- Networking with Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
- VPC Network Security
- Connecting On-premise and AWS
- Managing and Securing Server the Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)
- Managing and Securing Content Distribution with CloudFront
- Managing and Securing the Route 53 Domain Name System (DNS)
- Managing and Securing the API Gateway
- Monitoring and Troubleshooting Networks in AWS
- Network Automation with CloudFormation
- Exam Tips and Tricks
- Mock Tests
To review other study materials for the SA-Pro cert and AWS Knowledge in general, head to our 14 Best AWS Books For Cloud Professionals.
I want to preface this section by saying that everyone has their studying way, and what works for me might not work for you. You should dedicate at least a couple of months of training to this certification.
I spent around 150 hours split around 5 months before attempting the Solutions Architect – Professional certification. While I went through Stephane Maarek’s training course, I took notes and drew diagrams of the topics taught. My hands-on experience working with AWS came in handy during some lectures, and I gained much knowledge during the other lectures.
Keeping a cheat sheet (you can find very helpful AWS cheat sheets at Tutorials Dojo) of services, what they do, and how they communicate with each other, as well as creating infrastructure diagrams of how services are interconnected, was an immense help. Keep in mind, The SA-Pro certification doesn’t just quiz you on which services to use. It questions your knowledge of AWS Interconnectivity and how multiple services can create an efficient, fault-tolerant, and scalable solution.
Once I was done with the preparation, I did the practice questions religiously. Do not be bothered by initial failures, rather use that to see the gaps in your knowledge. The practice questions mentioned in this blog are amazing and provide in-depth explanations of correct and incorrect submissions. Also, try to scan the questions and immediately rule out wrong answers.
These answers usually list out the wrong AWS service for a possible solution. Getting good at eliminating the incorrect option will give you an immediate edge and help you save valuable seconds. The exam questions are long, winding, and deceptive. Trust me, every second counts.
Talk briefly about the AWS Services and what breakdown you can expect in the Solutions Architect – Professional exam. This is not set in stone however, some services often come up in the examination. AWS Organizations is a very important topic and is routinely quizzed upon. Make sure you brush up on Organizational units, Service control policies, and how to create cross-account roles.
Storage focusing on Data and Cloud Migration is also an important topic. Think when to use AWS Snowball vs. Direct Connect. Data Sync. When to use DMS vs. When to use Server Migration Service.
Finally, Networking, as mentioned above, is a massive part of the Certification, and you will be questioned about networking solutions throughout the certification. Brush up on your AWS VPC and Network skills (go over every service that comes under the VPC service, including Transit gateway, VPNs, VPC peering vs. endpoints, High Availability for VPN Endpoints and VPN, etc.).
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional is one of the most challenging certifications in the IT field however, with a good knowledge of AWS, some Hands on experience under your belt, and the help of the study material and resources provided in this blog, you can arm yourself with the required knowledge, experience and expectation to attempt and conquer this intimidating challenge.