Certified Security - Specialty

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7/30/2019 Passed the 2019 Security Speciality

Passed the security specialty yesterday! Whoot.

This was the fourth AWS Certification I’ve taken this year, with the first three being the associate level exams for Solutions Architect, Developer, and SysOps. I spent roughly 60 days preparing for the exam with an average of between 45-60 minutes per day. I gave myself more time to prepare for this exam that other exams because it was my first “professional” level exam.

On previous exams, I had taken notes while watching the acloud.guru course and created study guides. With the study guide approach, I found it really hard to effectively study a 25+ page study guide. For this test I used a different study strategy. I took all my notes on Anki flashcards, and reviewed them in the mornings. This approach worked really well for me.

Couple of other notes:

  • I read through the FAQs for the services covered. If I could go back, I would invest that time in User/Developer documentation. There was at least one question that was a “gotcha” directly from Developer documentation. Developer documentation is much more thorough than FAQs and will do a better job reinforcing what you learned in the acloud.guru course.

  • Know IAM and KMS inside out. Can’t emphasis this enough. You will need to really understand how KMS works with different services. Spend some time on key conditions.

  • Read the developer documentation for – Cloudtrail, Config, Cloudwatch events/metrics/alarms. There are many questions that require you to understand in what situations you should use each and how they can be combined to implement event driven security.

  • I had a surprisingly large number of questions that revolved around the architecture for three tiered web applications. I also had a “gotcha” question that required you to know that Cloudfront can only serve certificates from certificate manager that are in the us-east-1 region.

  • I read the recommended white papers, but if I did it again, I would invest that time in more User/Developer documentation.

Finally, one last tip that really helped me. I have a really hard time reading dry documentation. My eyes glaze over and my mind wanders. For this test, I started using the text to speech option on my Mac and Android phone (It’s also available on iOS). When I was reading developer documentation or white papers, I would have the computer speak it and I would read along. This really help my focus and also my retention. I’ve found that when I listen and read at the same time, I get the information through two different sensor pathways (sight, hearing) which greatly increases my retention.

Couple links:

Anki (can’t recommend it enough) – https://apps.ankiweb.net/

Text to Speech – https://support.office.com/en-us/article/hear-selected-text-read-aloud-ce9fb073-2a4d-44d2-95f7-6a532f0ab112

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