I passed the exam Friday (10/4) and it was nothing if not one of the most stressful things that could happen to a person. Here is a quick review of my test preparation as well as what happened the day of the exam.

Test Prep

There is a bit of a backstory. I took the cloud practitioner exam in June and since so much of that material is relevant to the solutions architect exam, it’s safe to say, my studies started in June. I signed up for an Intro to Cloud Computing online course with The-ITEM and had taken the exam into my third week. I stayed in the course because my husband wanted to learn about cloud computing and I could be there for moral support.

The materials I used to study with and pass the CSAA are as follows:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect Study Guide: Associate (SAA-C01) Exam book $
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect Practice Tests: Associate SAA-C01 Exam book $
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect-Associate Certification Guide book $
  • A Cloud Guru: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate 2019 course $
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Practice Exams on Udemy $
  • Linux Academy: AWS Certified Solutions Architect -Associate Level course $
  • FAQs for the following services: (free)

I watched the A Cloud Guru course from beginning to end, twice. Once along with The-ITEM and once with my study buddy, more on that later. Since the Linux Academy content was in the process of being refreshed, I only reviewed certain modules in that course. As I got closer to the test date, the course was done and I watched a few sections through from beginning to end. Linux Academy has a very thorough way of going through the services. It will do you well to watch this course from beginning to end. The depth and breadth of the 44 hour course is staggering.

The books were just as helpful as the course. I like to read physical books. Being able to mark up, highlight and doodle in the margins was a plus for me. I’d print out the chapter quizzes or a few pages of questions and practice answering them, over and over. The exams in the A Cloud Guru course were good as were the practice exams provided by the cert guide.

Reading the FAQs the day before and the day of the exam really helped me get a few extra points. I would highly recommend not skipping this step. The courses aren’t up to date, nor are they comprehensive. Getting the information straight from AWS is always a sound choice.

My AWS Study Buddy

After having taken a over a month off from study prep, I knew I needed to get back on the ball. The power of Twitter found me someone to study with and keep me on track to take the exam. I tweeted that I was looking for an AWS study buddy and some how, my tweet found its way to a young lady in Portugal.

We met online twice a week for 2-3 hours each time. She’s 5 hours ahead, so she was talking to me in the middle of the night. We read and watched the courses in advance and would discuss the content, walk through the console and do the quizzes and exam questions together. I scheduled my exam just to put it on my calendar and have a date to work towards. She scheduled her exam for the same day.

As the exam date neared, I fell behind. My dog died and I was devastated. I didn’t feel ready and was about to reschedule the exam. My husband told me not to. He said, “only two things can happen, you will pass or you will fail and know just what to expect on the exam”. So, I pressed on.

The Exam

My study buddy took her test before me and she passed. She messaged me to tell me that I won’t have any trouble passing it either. She would know. We’d spend hours together going over content and questions and had so many discussions about all things AWS CSAA. She used almost every minute they gave her and suggested I do the same. I knew I would take her advice.

“Only two things can happen, you will pass or you will fail and know just what to expect on the exam”

Darryl Andrews

Whatever could go wrong at the test center did go wrong. The computer wouldn’t log me in and someone had to assist. After that little hiccup, I was off and running. with 130 minutes to complete 65 questions. I went through the exam and flagged 18 questions, then at the end, revisited them. Next, I went through each question again, from beginning to end. I told myself that I’d end the test with a minute left. As that time approached, I felt very good about the exam and went to end the test.


The system was still counting down, but I wasn’t able to end the test. I didn’t know what to do. I got up and ran out of the room and screamed, “MY TEST WON’T END!!!” I had 30 seconds left and I had no idea what would happen. When I got back to the test, it had timed out, the proctor tried to get my test to end, screen to move or anything. Nothing happened. She walked out and I followed her. Heart racing and feeling a tear in my eye, she reassured me that the test would save and nothing would be lost. She had to call someone and he walked her through the process and she was able to log me in and end the exam for me. I sat back down, completed the survey and got the notification I was waiting for. I PASSED!

I took to Twitter to scream it from the rooftop that I passed.

…and that my study buddy passed too!

A load was lifted. All that work paid off. Next up, the AWS Certified Sysops Administrator Associate Exam.