If you’re thinking about taking the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional certification exam, I’m here to help you crush it! Here are my top tips for how to prepare for the exam, and what the different domains in the exam cover.
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How can I pass an AWS certification exam?
Before we talk about the DevOps Pro exam, here are my top tips for taking – and passing – an AWS certification exam (or any certification exam, for that matter).
- Skim questions quickly and mark for review
There are always nerves at the beginning of an exam. So what I try to do is move quickly. I skim the content of a question and if I’m feeling a little unsure, I quickly mark it for review and move on to the next question.
As you move through an exam, a question or answer will often jog your memory about something you marked for review. I almost always find that the questions I’ve marked for review are easier to answer on the second reading.
- Don’t look at the answers first
It’s tempting to look at those multiple choice answers first, but don’t! When I’m reading a question, I think about which AWS services may be relevant before I look at the answers. It will then be difficult to sway me when I do look at the options. This is a good way to sift through and eliminate incorrect answers.
- Identify keywords and terms
My most effective time-saving technique is the use of keywords and terms. Does the scenario mention ‘real-time’? That’s very often related to Amazon Kinesis. When you see that keyword, jump to the answers and search for Kinesis. This way, you can quickly eliminate wrong answers.
Do you need to secure data on S3 (such as Personal Identifiable Information)? That screams Amazon Macie. Quickly scan the answers for Macie, and eliminate the bad apples that don’t mention Macie. Long-term storage? That means Glacier. Build a list of the services used for DevOps, study the service page and the FAQs for that service, find the keywords and terms, and create your own reference list.
In the spirit of time saving, just take my DevOps Pro training course! I make sure to identify keywords and terms throughout the course.
Overall, my main strategy when taking an exam is to move fast. Remember, you have just a little over 2 minutes per question. Save time on the questions you know. And don’t grind on a tough one. Mark it for review and move on!
What does the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional exam cover?
Is the AWS DevOps certification hard? Not if you know your stuff. Let’s break things down by domain and highlight some top tips for crushing the exam.
Domain 1: SDLC automation
This domain focuses heavily on key AWS Developer Tools – AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodeBuild, AWS CodeDeploy, and AWS CodePipeline. My favorite tip for mastering this domain is don’t walk, but run to the AWS Management Console, go to CodePipeline, and start building!
Here’s the key – study the dropdowns! Start with the source stage, and expand the dropdown. What repos can you use? It’s all there in the dropdown. Next is the build stage. What are the options? Hit that dropdown. Oh that’s right, CodeBuild or Jenkins! And wait a second, it says the build stage is optional. Then the deploy stage (which is optional as well).
There are many options for what we can deploy. Study the dropdown and commit it to memory. Do some deployments with the different options (CloudFormation, CodeDeploy, Elastic Beanstalk, etc.), and have a play.
Domain 2: Configuration management and infrastructure as code
This domain has a heavy focus on AWS CloudFormation, AWS OpsWorks, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk. It’s important to understand what these services do, their use cases, and when to use one over the other two.
For this domain, it’s also important to understand the deployment methods such as blue/green deployments. For CloudFormation, know the helper scripts and their use cases.
Domain 3: Monitoring and logging
EventBridge is the evolution of the CloudWatch Events service. But the focus is still on events. CloudWatch has not yet been deprecated, and CloudWatch Alarms are still around. So be prepared, as you may see both EventBridge and CloudWatch on the exam. Think of them as interchangeable.
Domain 4: Policies and standards automation
This domain covers services that perform specific, but relatively simple, tasks. Examples are AWS Config, Amazon Inspector, Amazon GuardDuty, and Amazon Macie. Know their use cases! These can be easy points on the exam. And tack on some keywords and terms such as: Personal Identifiable Information (PII) = Macie.
If you see the keyword ‘audit’ or ‘auditing’, start thinking about AWS Config. Remember that Trusted Advisor can provide recommendations, but it’s up to you to do something about those recommendations (you can build automations from Trusted Advisor automations).
AWS Systems Manager is similar to Kinesis, in that it has several different offerings. Know each offering and what it can do for you.
Domain 5: Incident and event response
It’s worth understanding that there are some crossover services between Domain 4 and Domain 5, like Systems Manager and Kinesis. A key theme of this domain is to think in terms of automating our response to incidents and events. So consider services that act as connectors and triggers in automations, such as Amazon SNS, AWS Lambda, CloudWatch Alarms, and Amazon EventBridge events.
And don’t forget hybrid environments! How do we get server logs from on-prem servers? Install the CloudWatch Logs Agent. How do we manage on-prem servers? Install the SSM Agent. These are the sorts of things to learn and understand.
Domain 6: High availability, fault tolerance, and disaster recovery
The name of this domain tells us so much – we want to spread out our resources. How do we do that? Think about multi-AZ services and techniques (autoscaling, load balancing), and don’t forget about multi-region services (such as Amazon DynamoDB Global Tables).
When it comes to disaster recovery, picture a timeline. With Recovery Time Objective (RTO), move forward on the timeline. How long can we afford to be down? With Recovery Point Objective (RPO), move back on the timeline. How much data back there can we afford to lose? Understand the solutions to these questions, and you’ll be good to go.
Want to learn more about becoming a DevOps engineer?
That’s a quick breakdown about how to tackle the DevOps Engineer Pro exam! But my top tip? Check out my new AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional training course, complete with hands-on labs and innovative graphics to enhance visual learning!
If you’re still looking for more info about the benefits of a career in DevOps, check out these great posts: