Having passed the AWS Solutions Architect exam within the past year, I think I am in a good position to offer some practical survival advice on passing AWS Certification Exams. I’m not going to talk about what you need to know or study (there are already plenty of resources for that), but rather about developing an overall approach to the challenge. Although I’m primarily talking about AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam, it should, by and large, be applicable to anything from AWS on the associate level for Passing AWS Certification Exams .
1. Do you understand the AWS Solutions Architect exam structure?
By this I mean…
- How many questions are in the exam?
- What question format(s) are used?
- What percentage of questions pertain to each service?
- How long will you have for the exam?
- Have you read the exam blueprint?
All the answers can be found in the blueprint for your particular exam. I was, naturally, specifically interested in the AWS Solutions Architect associate level exam blueprint. If you haven’t already, you really will need to familiarize yourself blueprint contents since these details can really make a difference.
2. Do you know where the exam is being held and how to get there?
This may seem like a dumb question, however I am sure some poor soul has shown up at the wrong place or time. Make sure, a full day in advance, that you are 100% sure where the exam and, more importantly how you are going to get there. If you are driving, is there parking? If you are going with public transport, how reliable is it?
3. Get there early.
Getting there early will lower your stress levels considerably. I arrived about 30 minutes early and was allowed sit the exam straight away rather than wait for my scheduled time. I was surprised by this and can’t guarantee that it applies everywhere. I suspect it may depend on how busy the exam centre is on a given day and how bored the proctor might be. Bring along some of your favorite relaxing music in case you need to wait around.
4. Go to bed early the night before.
Make sure you get a good nights sleep. Sleep plays a critical role in both thinking and learning. Sleep deprivation hurts cognitive processes in many ways, impairing attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. These are all things that you are going to need on exam day to give yourself the best chance of passing.
5. Make sure you eat.
If you normally skip breakfast or avoid eating when nervous, you should still try and eat something. Your brain needs the energy it gets from food to work efficiently. You need to keep your mental focus on your exam and not on your hunger. Weeks of hard studying for the exam won’t help much if you end up being too lethargic to do your best on exam day. If you don’t feel like food, then try a protein shake or smoothie.
6. Have an AWS Solutions Architect exam Strategy.
Make sure you know how you are going to approach the AWS Solutions Architect exam. Perhaps you’re planning to go through the questions in order and not move on until you are certain of the answer. I’m not sure that’s a good idea: you can easily get stuck on a single question and waste a lot of time. Here is how I did it. I am sure there are lots of others approaches, but it worked well for me.
- Work through the entire exam once and do any questions that you are close to 100% certain you know. At the same time, mark the others for later review (the exam software makes it easy to do that).
- Now go back through the questions you’ve marked for review. Hopefully you will have two sorts of questions left: those you are reasonably sure you can work out, and those about which you haven’t got a clue (or are very complicated). Do the ones that you think you can work out and make sure to un-mark each as you complete it.
- Once again, go through the questions that are still marked for review because of their difficulty. Using a little basic math will help you decide which ones to tackle first. If it is a question with 4 possible answers and 1 correct answer, and you’ve got no choice but to guess blindly, then you have a 25% chance of getting it right. If however it has six possible answers and you need to choose two correct answers, then your odds guessing successfully fall to just under 7%. A big difference.
One other consideration relating to tough questions: there will often be one or more choice that sticks out as very unlikely. You can increase the chances of guessing right by knocking that one out of contention, bringing you up from 25% to 33% for four choice questions. Every little bit helps for passing AWS Certification Exams
Hopefully, all this has given you some useful ideas that might just push you over the top. If you have put a lot of time and effort into studying for the AWS Solutions Architect exam, you owe it to yourself to get everything in place on exam day so you’ll have the best chance possible of passing AWS Certification Exams.