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The new AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam: What you should know

ACG Technical Editors Team
ACG Technical Editors Team

With the new version of the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam (SAA-C03) recently released, many people have asked us what the difference between the two exams will be and how they can prepare. 

We decided to put together a quick resource to assist with the change, and cover everything you need to know.

What’s the difference between SAA-C02 vs SAA-C03?

Based on our experience with the new exam, as well as official AWS announcements and documentation, the SAA-C02 and the SAA-C03 are very similar.

The organizational structure of the exams have basically stayed the same, but the weights have been altered slightly to reflect the introduction of new services and processes. More than 90% of the task statements in the SAA-C03 are already included in the SAA-C02!

That’s great news, because it means if you’re studying a course for SAA-C02, the content is going to be still largely in line with the updated version of the exam. That means you’re still getting a great foundation for passing the SAA-C03 exam.

Some additional good news is that the difficulty level and makeup of the exam are also still relatively the same:

  • The exam will consist of multiple choice and multiple answer (response) questions.
  • There are no short answer questions or any hands-on lab exam scenarios. 
  • The exam is about 130 minutes long and scored the same way: on a scale of 100 – 1000, with a passing score being 720 or above. 

In terms of cost, the exam still costs $150 USD and can be taken either at a facility or remotely.

If you haven’t started studying for your exam, we recommend you do so as soon as possible so you go in fully prepared. Here are some courses and practice exams we offer that can help:

  1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C02) Course
  2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C02) Practice Exam 1
  3. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C02) Practice Exam 2

These courses are currently being updated to reflect the changes and additions to the exam. In the meantime, this article will provide you with supplemental information and documentation that will help you prepare for the SAA-C03, best paired with taking the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate course listed above.

So, what has changed with the SAA-C03?

Below, you will see how the domains have changed between the two exams. You will notice that Designing Secure Architectures (formerly Designing Secure Applications and Architectures) has increased to 30% from 24%, while both Designing Resilient Architectures and Designing High-Performing Architectures have decreased by 4% each. Designing Cost-Optimized Architectures has increased by 2%, but still remains the smallest weighted domain.

There will be some new services introduced in the SAA-C03, and you can review the exam guide to see a list of all the services that may appear on the exam. There will also be some questions that will test understanding and application of AWS services that you should already be familiar with, and are covered within our current course. 

You may wish to review AWS documentation on the new services that have been added to the exam guide. Recognizing what the service is, its purpose, and having a practical understanding of its use will assist in your preparation for the exam. 

There are a lot to review, but these are some of the key new services we recommend you look at: 

Analytics

Amazon OpenSearch Service – What is Amazon OpenSearch Service?

Amazon Kinesis Client Library (KCL) – Using the Kinesis Client Library

AWS Lake Formation – What is AWS Lake Formation?

Machine Learning and AI

Amazon Rekognition – What is Amazon Rekognition?

Amazon SageMaker – What is Amazon SageMaker? 

Application Integration

Amazon MQ – What is Amazon MQ?

Amazon AppFlow – What is Amazon AppFlow?

AWS AppSync – What is AWS AppSync?

Compute

AWS Outposts – What is AWS Outposts?

Database

Amazon DynamoDB Accelerator – DAX: How it works

Amazon Elasticache for Redis – What is Amazon ElastiCache for Redis?

Amazon KeySpaces – What is Amazon KeySpaces (for Apache Cassandra)?

Serverless & Container Services

Amazon Elastic Container Registry – What is Amazon Elastic Container Registry?

Amazon Elastic Container Service Anywhere – External instances Amazon ECS Anywhere

AWS News Blog – Amazon EKS Anywhere

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Services Anywhere – Amazon EKS Anywhere

Hybrid Environments & Migration Services

AWS Application Migration Service – What is AWS Application Migration Service?

Security, Identity and Compliance

AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) – What is AWS Certificate Manager?

AWS Security Token Service (STS) – AWS Security Token Service Reference

AWS Security Hub – What is AWS Security Hub?

Storage Services

AWS Backup – What is AWS Backup?

Amazon FSx for Lustre – What is Amazon FSx for Lustre?

Amazon FSx for Windows – What is FSx for Windows File Server?

Other Services

AWS ParallelCluster – What is AWS ParallelCluster?

Amazon Kinesis Video Streams – What is Amazon Kinesis Video Streams?

Amazon QuickSight – What is Amazon QuickSight?

We highly recommend reviewing the AWS SAA-C03 exam guide to make sure you have a basic understanding of all the services that may appear on the exam.

What hasn’t changed? 

All of the services that are covered in the current course remain in the new exam guide. We recommend that you review our SAA-C02 course content and AWS documentation thoroughly. These include (but are not limited to): The Pillars of the Framework, EC2, Amazon S3, Elastic Container Service, Elastic Kubernetes Service, AWS Systems Manager, Amazon API Gateway, and AWS Savings Plans.

Some areas to focus on to help prepare:

  • Disaster Recovery and High Availability: what the differences are between them and how you can implement each.
  • Make sure to understand the difference between similar services within AWS categories like Application Integration, Storage, Content Delivery, Security and Compliance, Databases.
  • Understand how to secure, scale, and improve cost on multi-tier applications in AWS.

Some recommended AWS Whitepapers to help prepare: 

AWS-Provided Exam Resources:

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Overview

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C03) Exam Guide

AWS SAA-C03 Sample Questions

Conclusion

We hope this was helpful to you, and we wish you good luck on the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Exam. Until next time, keep being awesome!

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