My Experience in Preparing for and Taking the AWS Developer Associate Exam

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

After close to a year of studying, it was finally my turn to join the club of AWS Developer Associates. I passed the exam about a month ago with a score of 973. I hope these few tips will help those who will take the exam soon.

Go Slow But Study Every Day

When I first began studying for the exam, I was so excited that I picked a course on Udemy then spent hours watching videos and reading other online material every day after work. However, sitting in front of a computer for more than twelve hours a day ultimately took its toll on my mental capacity. I fell into another extreme — I abandoned the course almost entirely because I kept getting extremely tired after work, no matter if it was a productive workday or not.

The consequence of that is I got so far behind in the course that the instructor had revamped the whole thing for the new year, wiping out most of my progress.

I ended up enrolling in another Udemy course and started over. This time I only went through a few modules within a section at a time. Then I reinforced the knowledge by reading AWS documentation on the same topic afterwards. The new video course I signed up for also did a better job explaining intricate concepts. It helped me progress more smoothly.

Tip #1: Do not burn yourself out, but study a little bit daily to keep the momentum going.

Stop Trying to Read Everything

You simply can’t. Before I decided to take the exam, I already had more than a year of working experience in AWS and was already a certified Cloud Practitioner. But I still tried to study everything I could get my hands on in every topic — white papers, blog posts, YouTube, and paid video courses. I often felt that I did not know enough. There seem to be more and newer materials to read all the time. So I have put off registering for the exam for months.

One day I realized I would not know how I was doing until I tested myself somehow. So I found a practice exam collection on Udemy, went through the first exam, scored 81% (the passing score is 720/1000). It turned out I was more ready than I thought!

A valuable feature of practice exams is that they usually highlight which knowledge areas the incorrect answers fall in. So you know which categories you need to study more.

Tip #2: If you start to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of study material, take practice exams to gauge how ready you are and focus on problem areas.

Take the Exam in a Test Centre if Possible

The test centres in my city were closed because of the pandemic, so I took the exam at home with online proctoring. The experience was horrible compared to when I took the Cloud Practitioner exam at a local test centre.

Hours before the exam, I ran the system check on my iMac again, double-checked my internet connection was solid and cleared the desk of any papers and electronic devices. The proctor joined the exam session on time, but I could not quite hear her through an accent that I was not used to and choppy connection either on her end or my end.

The instructions in the email confirmation I got after registering for the exam did not mention I had to use a standalone webcam. But the proctor insisted that I showed her both sides of my desk, which was easier said than done on my 27-inch iMac. I managed to slide the computer left and right to show there is nothing on my desk. In the middle of all that, she suddenly went quiet mid-sentence. I thought I got disconnected and panicked — there was nothing I could do because the OnVue program disabled everything else on my computer. When I was about to reboot my computer, she returned and said her internet connection went down.

The worst thing happened a few minutes after the exam began. The proctor started to talk to another person on the phone in a foreign language. That went on for a few more minutes until another proctor came online and asked if I had someone else in my room! I had to push the humongous iMac around to show him my room and desk again. After that, I finally got to finish the exam in peace.

Tip #3: Schedule an in-person exam to stay sane.

Bonus: The Resources that I Used

Here are the resources I used to study for the exam:

Neal’s training material is remarkably organized and simple to follow, has tons of hands-on labs, and the exam cram module at the end of each section really helps seal your knowledge in.

A senior developer at Alberta Motor Association who 💙 everything web.