I just earned my AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification from home!

David Ortega, Trainer Consultant.



Since the world went into Lockdown, AWS announced that many of its exams can now be proctored remotely, from your own home. This means that you can take the AWS certification exams in a location and time to suit you, rather than having to attend a registered test centre.



Registering


I registered with Pearson VUE. It’s a fairly easy process.


However, there’s one issue that you need to take into account “exam accommodations” - in my instance, I normally request accommodation for the fact that the exam isn’t in my native language.



If you have a request including additional requirements, you need to make the request on the phone. In my case, I had the “ESL +30 MINUTES” request active, and it would have taken me over an hour to get this sorted over the phone.


I decided to disable my additional 30 minutes so that I could complete the whole process online instead of having to wait on the phone for so long. In order to disable your additional requirements, you have to raise a support ticket here: https://support.aws.amazon.com/#/contacts/aws-training. AWS didn’t take long to reply, and a couple of hours later I was ready to continue the process.


It was now time to select the exam. On this step, it’s crucial to choose the correct exam version. In the case of the Solutions Architect Associate, the correct code is SAA-C02.



After selecting the exam, you will be redirected to the Pearson VUE booking environment to continue the process. I’ll walk you through the key steps to finish registration.


  • Select “at home or office” when asked how you want to take your exam.



  • Select the language you prefer for the exam.



  • When prompted to select the date and time, I was fortunate enough to find a lot of available slots I could use. Pay close attention to the timezone and format used for the time so that you’re sure you are scheduling the slot you intended.



  • After providing payment information, you’ll be able to finish the registration process and you’ll be ready to take your exam from home at your scheduled time.




Exam day


On the day you’re going to sit the exam, it’s ideal to do it in an isolated room.


The guidelines for at-home exams are quite strict and the presence of distractions can cause the process to be cancelled.


The desk has to be completely clear, except for your laptop, and you can’t have another monitor in the room. You can have a look at the room I used during my exam to get an idea of what is allowed.



My thoughts on AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C02


The exam was very close to my expectations. It includes more services than the previous version and the questions are more in-depth than they were before. One big difference when comparing this version with SAA-C01 is that there’s one less domain tested, which does not mean it’s easier, but that more in-depth knowledge of the remaining modules is needed. Define operationally excellent architectures is no longer part of the list of domains assessed. However, much of this content is now part of the first two domains: Design Resilient Architectures and Define Performant Architectures.


A useful resource to study and make sure you’ve covered all the main points during your prep is the AWS official certification guide, which you can download here: https://d1.awsstatic.com/training-and-certification/docs-sa-assoc/AWS-Certified-Solutions-Architect-Associate-Exam-Guide_v1.1_2019_08_27_FINAL.pdf


In this new version, I noticed that the services covered are explored in much greater detail than before, and domains 1 and 2 are key for the success of the exam. In these domains, there are several questions on the correct implementation of solutions on the domain topics.


When delivering training, I always make sure to let students know that the key to successful preparation for the Solutions Architect Associate exam is to know how VPCs and their related services work inside out. This includes networking, security, high availability, among others; and it’s still an essential element when getting ready to pass this new version of the exam.


Here’s a list of some services you should pay special attention to, while still making sure you study the rest of the content covered in the exam.



If you want my advice on what’s the best way to get ready for this version of the exam, I’d say the Architecting on AWS - Accelerator is the best bet.



You can find more information about AWS Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C02 here: https://aws.amazon.com/certification/certified-solutions-architect-associate/


Results


We’re almost done! We’ve scheduled the exam, we’ve gone through all the prep work and studying before the exam and chosen our most comfortable pair of pyjamas to sit for the exam from home, and here are the results!



If you’re thinking about getting an AWS certification yourself while you #stayhome, you might want to look into our virtual Exam Readiness Workshop! In this one-day course, one of our world-class instructors will help you prepare for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate exam. Go to https://www.nubego.io/exam-readiness to learn more about this offer.


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