How I passed the AWS Certified Developer exam

How I passed the AWS Certified Developer exam

This week I took and passed the AWS Certified Developer โ€“ Associate exam ๐Ÿฅณ Since then, some people have asked me which resources I used, so I thought I'd spend some time writing about my experience and approach, including the resources I used.

Getting Started

If you're completely new to the cloud, I suggest you start with this article. It's a general introduction to cloud computing that tells you what it actually is and something about its history, benefits and drawbacks.

After that, it's good to spend some time on the AWS Fundamentals course to go over some core concepts and mental models that AWS is built on, which I wish I had done before I had dived into the material below.

The Course

The exam was part of an AWS study group at work, and this is the course that it was structured around. The course is divided into around 30 sections based on different AWS services and each section consists of a theoretical part and a hands on session. There is also a practice exam at the end, along with some tips to pass the exam.

Initially, I followed the pace of the study group by going over around 3h of video material a week, but I and some others eventually fell behind. We still had bi-weekly meetings, where we would discuss the topics we had learnt, but I ended up going over a lot of the material at once in several days instead of gradually week by week.

If you have the time, I would strongly encourage you to spread it out more, and set smaller goals like one section or one service a week. That way you will have more time to explore a particular service and the concepts associated with it in detail before moving onto the next one.

If you have less time or are more of a text-based learner, I would suggest going over the lecture slides instead of the videos. The instructor follows the slides quite closely and most of the added context comes from the hands on sessions rather than the theoretical lessons.

Practice Exams

After completing the course above, I went over two sets of full practice exams, and an official Pearson VUE practice exam.

  • Practice Exams by Stephane Maarek & Abhishek Singh

  • Practice Exams by Neal Davis & Digital Cloud

  • Pearson VUE practice exam - you can request a free voucher here

Both sets of practice exams are quite good and include detailed explanations as to why an answer is correct and why the others are wrong. There also some repeating questions, but most are unique. Comparing them, I'd say that the first set by Stephane and Abhishek was slightly more difficult. But I could be biased as I did those first and was already familiar with the format when I did the second set. Both sets provided a great preparation for the actual exam.

It took me around 30-45 minutes to do one practice exam, and I spent a considerable amount of time going over my mistakes afterwards. On Udemy, you can filter your responses to show only the incorrect ones. The explanations also reference the official AWS documentation, so you can continue reading if you need more details.

I found the practice exams quite difficult and failed most of them on my first attempt. This got me really worried about failing the actual exam, so don't feel discouraged if that happens to you too. I just retook the practice exams I failed until I scored above 80% in all of them. While going over my mistakes, I didn't only pay attention to the correct answer, but also as to why the others were wrong. This helped me eliminate some answers more easily going forward, which also benefitted me in the actual exam.

The Pearson VUE practice exam only included around 20 questions instead of 65, and no explanations at the end. But it familiarised me with the setup that I had in the actual exam, which included the ability to flag questions to come back to at the end.

Cheat Sheets

I used these AWS cheat sheets to review important concepts and details. I only came across them later, after I had already done some practice exams, but I would suggest going over them before you do the practice exams.

I primarily used the first set of cheat sheets, but also looked at some of the latter ones. Digital Cloud has several sets of cheat sheets tailored to different exams, so their set is really tailored towards the AWS Certified Developer exam. They also include exam tips that I've found very helpful, as they highlight some details you need to know.

AWS Website

And finally, the official AWS website. I used the documentation, FAQs sites and whitepapers as a reference and went over the AWS Certified Developer exam guide and sample questions here.

A couple of hours before the exam I also went over this article by Danny Steenman on some tactical tips to increase your chances of passing the exam. Mainly because I was nervous, but I found it quite helpful.

Final Words

And that's it. These are all the resources I've used to prepare for the exam. Overall, it took me around a month of study, a couple hours every evening, to prepare for the exam. But as mentioned, I would highly suggest spreading it out over a longer period.

Hope that's helpful. Good luck and much success to those of you who are preparing for the exam right now. You can do it ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

Cover image by Dallas Reedy on Unsplash

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