My exam experience
I’m a slow person. I don’t read fast and to make it worse I’m not a native speaker. Yet I consider myself fluent in English, but not being native still makes it harder and makes me an even slower reader (and the additional 30 minutes for not being English-native were not enough for me).
I can’t recall any question in that exam longer than 2 lines that I didn’t had to read 3~4 times to not even fully grasp all the details… and questions less than 2 lines long, well, there might have been less than a handful.
So I was at question 2 and already 15 minutes had passed and I didn’t even had answered these 2 questions in full understanding of the details of the questions and all answers.
I was 100% sure I would fail.
As time and questions were passing by, there are numerous questions where after having read 3~4 time the questions and lost already too much time I either
picked an answer without reading them, just by glancing at them and choosing the one that had one attractive word (e.g. a question about some sort of DB architecture, I would just select the answer containing the word Aurora without reading it)
picked the first answer that would satisfy the problem in the question without reading the others to check if there was a better answer.
I gave up marking questions for review because I knew I would not have the time and even with the extra 30 minutes, I finished just 10 minutes before the end.
So I was really surprised to see that I passed, because not having the time to grasp the questions and make thoughtful decisions I was sure I would fail.
I passed with 770 points. Which I guess is just by 1 or 2 questions above the limit.
That leaves me with a bit of a bitter feeling that won’t be answered here, but: what’s the point of such an exam?
I’m doubtful about how such an exam, which doesn’t give the time to make thoughtful answers, helps at evaluating someone’s technical level and understanding of the technology. The 3 Specialty exams I passed before were not that bad to my opinion. I did them all in time and confidence without the 30 minutes extensions which I didn’t know existed at the time.
The exam content and study
As for the content, I can’t say much. The number of questions which made it to my cognitive brain are about only a handful. The only question that struck me and which is not covered in this course was about Lambda CI/CD deployments.
prior to taking this course, I retook the entire CSA-Associate course
took this course, read all the whitepapers, viewed all the videos
watched many re:Invent 2019 videos (the entire Security, Networking, Architecture tracks and part of the DB track)
re-read my notes from all the Associate courses, and the Security specialty course
did my own labs
It still felt to me that this course is covering about just half of the content of the exam – not in terms of scope but in terms of depths.
And despite my additional study and practice I was still missing some very technical information.
My feedback on this course
As an advice for this course content, I would suggest to get rid of everything that is a repeat of the CSA-Associate (it feels to me that there’s often more technical details in the A Cloud Guru CSA-Associate course and the Professional course), and build on top of it and go in-depth.
The re:Invent videos and whitepapers are not enough additional material in themselves: I had several questions which were detailed CLI options type of questions.
Require people to go back follow the Associate course if they need and use the saved time to go in-depth into details.
Now I have to go work on the next one.
Congrats Matthieu! And thanks for the feedback. I hear you on the CSA-A stuff. When AWS got rid of the requirement to pass the CSAA first before CSAP, that opened up lots of new complexities for people who just jumped into the CSAP. I can tell you we’ve gotten very "energetic" feedback because the course doesn’t teach everything someone needs who might have never sat at an AWS console before…regardless of what requirements and disclaimers.
Interesting that you had CLI items. I’ve taken the exam several times but haven’t gotten any of those in my question batch.
Rare to hear someone pass the CSA-Pro exam – by guessing the answers (sounded like that). Most/lots of stories that we hear folks failing the exam despite best effort. So something must have gone right besides luck. Very rare for AWS exam – maybe puppy mills are churning out.
But yes, the exam questions are too very verbose – just cant see any purpose behind that. Real life is not like that at all. You may have a complex problem with many moving parts – does not have to be verbose.
I want to add my thoughts on this,
I actually think the exam might not be flawed as suggested but rather the process adopted happened to work this time for Matthieu.
Let me explain, As discussed a lot of the detail in the questions can be superfluous to the question at hand, one of the issues I am having is over thinking the question and second guessing my ‘gut’ instinct. Perhaps in this case skim reading and going with the logical and initial feeling of the right answer is actually a passable method.
I say the above seeing that Matthieu did a lot of studying and seems to have passed a number of AWS exams previously, therefore i think there was enough knowledge and understanding to take this risky method. That being said it was just a pass and on a different day with a different question pool it might have gone the other way.
It’s not like they were just guessing answers it was an educated guess based on a good level of knowledge and understanding both with regards to the subject matter and how AWS writes questions and answer options.
Incidentally is there not a process to get extra time on the exams if you are a English second language speaker? I thought I saw this somewhere.
Lastly congratulations Matthieu on passing the exam, I wouldn’t down play the achievement and if you really did cheat the system , which I don’t think you did, I would expect the re-certification to catch you out.
You are not alone in that feeling about the time constraints of the exam. I have and have had a lot of certifications, associate and professional over the last 20 years. (Cisco, Microsoft, VMware, AWS)
The ones I hate the most are the AWS Professional ones because they are too time constrained: you do not have time to read and carefully think, you have to be a question answering robot, you do not train about the subject but about how to answer fast and that is really bad IMHO for measuring your knowledge.
I took this exam last week . I failed with a score of 730, I guess 1 or 2 correct answers would have cleared me. I do have 2 AWS Associate certifications ( Architect and SysOps) , thought it was in 2015
I agree that questions are too verbose . I spend too much time with first 50 questions, mainly because , I read the questions more than once . It looks like better strategy might be to read the question ONLY ONCE, but spend more time in eliminating the wrong answers and pick the correct answers .
One thing I gained is the knowledge of so many new features that AWS has introduced in the last 5 years and we never get to use them in the field.
Not sure, AWS Architect professional Certification is of much help or use in securing better job oppotruntiies. I would like to hear from others in the field. Not sure if I should retake the exam. It looks like I’ve spend another $300 to retake the exam
I agree. There seems to be way too much emphasis with catching people out rather than examining knowledge. Long questions and a single wrong word slipped in to long answers to trick you. Also very ambiguous answers where sometimes assumptions are read into the question and other times you were not supposed to have made similar assumptions.
These certs are crap but I feel I am being forced to do them after many years of relying on experience and the ability to get up to speed quickly on something new. Should I really have to learn about Elastic Beanstalk to pass an exam FFS.
Worked with plenty of ‘certified’ people who are as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike. Certs mean little in the real world