Certified Security - Specialty

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Did not pass the exam

I scored a 710 (out of 1000) with 750 needed to pass. So, now I have a two week cooling off period to study what I missed. I got "needs improvement" in incident response and logging and monitoring. I’ve gone through the ACloudGuru course (woefully lacking to help with this exam), done WhizLabs (was getting 90+on all quizzes) and did cloud academy course, Udemy courses and quizzes and read all AWS Whitepapers on topics for the last three months. Been doing security design for over 10 years and AWS for 3+. Any suggestions on what I should study and look at now?


sorry to hear man. crazy you were able to pass all those other exams and not this one. I think should spen some more time studying now 😅


*I think I should

Shaw Ng

I am currently studying this exam too, have you checked out other people exam tips on this forum? What materials that did not cover from the courses in your exam? Hope you nail it next time!

3 Answers

Hi Michael, sorry to hear that you did not pass this time, but you’ll definitely pass next time, you were so close!

Have you listened to all the new content we have added over the past couple of weeks?

Were there any topics that came up on the exam that we have not included in the course?

If you can remember any specific areas that confused you, my advice would be to try and research those areas and try to work out where you went wrong.

There is an official AWS practice exam available which might be useful, although personally I felt that it was a bit easier than the real exam, but it maybe of use if only to expose any weak areas and then spend some time researching any questions that you struggled with.

We do also have a really good 2 hour course all about how to approach the AWS Cert exams and it is particularly useful for the Specialty and Pro exams which are of course a lot more challenging than the Associate level courses… its called the AWS Certification Preparation Guide and all ACG members can access it here:


This will definitely help you in your approach to the AWS exams, I learned a lot from this even though I have been taking cert exams all through my career and I thought I already had a pretty good technique. You’ll definitely pick up a few good tips to help you in any other AWS exam you choose to take.

Good luck and please do let us know how you get on next time, what you found useful etc.



PS I am going to add quizzes and an Exam Simulator to the course in the next few weeks….adding new lectures to cover any gaps in the course has taken priority over the past few weeks of course…

Obviously, I can’t break the confidentiality of the test, but:

  • The overwhelming majoring of the questions on my test were scenario based where you didn’t just have to choose a specific security-related service but had to design solutions to meet specific needs (most answers involved using 3 or more AWS services)

  • I had at least five (5) questions concerning Athena and Marcie. The questions weren’t just what they were and did (as an example Athena being an SQL search engine that you pay for by the query and amount of data searched. You actually had to use it as part of a solution to specific scenarios (I.E., (example only) “You are querying ingested Splunk data and need to build a dashboard based upon positive results due to a specific type of error message). A Macie question might be a scenario where you need to sort different document classification levels.

  • Multiple questions concerning AD connections (using both AD Service and AD Connector), not in choosing one or the other but in choosing a VPN or DirectConnect based upon the number of locations and performance levels.

  • Questions that required you to choose 2 or 3 answers from selections of five or more items. Example would be scenario based and then you must choose the three best services (out of seven choices) on what the solution would require.

  • The questions themselves are, in my opinion, deliberately written to confuse people. I had at least 10 questions that the answer depending upon your interpretation between two answers that differed in only one word (or service) . I also had several questions where the answers were all JSON scripts that were individually ½ page long and you had to pick the one that had the correct syntax spelling for a specific conduction variable. Or, one question that two JSON scripts only different in the use of one punctuation mark.

All in all, I consider this test to be more difficult than either of the AWS Professional Certs that I’ve taken and passed.

Hi Michael:

You were close, but the experience will help you next time, keep going. 

This, together with the BigData specialty exam are the hardest that I have presented, fortunately I passed the exam some day ago and I have prepared a post to talk about my experience, if you are interested you can check it at: https://www.ioconnectservices.com/articles/aws-certified-security-specialty-tips/.

Regards and do not give up, you are now wiser than before.

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