AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional 2020

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Passed the exam October 2020

Yesterday I passed the AWS Solutions Architect Professional exam with a score of 922. That exam was indeed the hardest so far. Time management is the most important skill. At the end of 75 questions, I had just 6 minutes left to spare… Questions a wordy, so are the answer options.

A typical question would look like: "Company X is in the business of [bunch of facts, most of which are irrelevant to the question, but consuming your time] migrating their on-prem application to the cloud. The application consist of (list of components). In case of outage required RTO is Y and RPO is Z… Which solution would satisfy the requirements with [minimal effort/lowest cost/some other optimization target]?" (4-5 options to choose from) And there are a lot of these. Separating relevant details from the "noise" facts is important. I end up briefly scanning the answers first to identify what area of technology question is focused on (if answers are about EBS/S3/EFS – then they are asking about storage, so details like # and location of the offices are unlikely relevant) and only then reading through the entire question.

Another frequent and unsurprising area – Organization and multi-account management.

Totally unexpected: Three questions on AWS AppSync. None of the materials I used to prepare even mentioned it as a service to know about.

Expected area, but still surprising question: Data transfer to the cloud. Two questions expected you to do the math on the data transfer time over known connection bandwidth. Something like this: You need to move X Tb of data to AWS. Which would be faster S3 over 1Gbps internet connection or Snowball? The test centre does provide calculators and I had to use one.

I got my AWS Architect Associate three years ago and a whole bunch of things changed since then. Transit VPC is not relevant anymore – transit Gateway is. VPC Private Link removed the need for VPC Peering… Oh my!

Here are the materials I used:

 – This ACG course by Scott Pletcher. The great overview of the requirements, but by no means would get you through the exam by itself.

 – Re:Invent videos – 300/400 level talks on the topics I’m going through and/or failing test questions on.

  • AWS Architect Professional course by Adrian Cantrill. The most advanced and complete I’ve seen so far.

 – AWS White papers, documentation, videos.

 – Jon Bonso’s Udemy practice. Great practice material.

 – Well Architected Framework course at ACG by Mark Nunnikhoven.

 – I also pick and choose individual lectures from other ASG courses as either refreshed or a deep dive on advanced topics. Security Speciality was likely the most useful one this way.

  • A lot of DIY tasks. Build VPN between two regions. Create Storage Gateway to my home network. API Gateway authentication via AzureAD. Transit Gateway across multiple regions and VPN etc. etc. What worked well for me – do it as an independent activity. "prepackaged labs" have a lot of shortcuts and preconfigured stuff. Starting from scratch forces me to dig into documentation, specs and touch way more elements.

Well… last but not least – hands-on experience on the job. Definitely helps, but by no means would guarantee the pass on the test. At work, I deal with just a small subset of services and scenarios, required for the exam.

Kent Ou

Passed the security specialty yesterday, Planning to get the SAP done in 2 weeks. After reading your post, I’d better change my plan. Thank you.

Anton Umnikov

congrats on security and good luck with SAP! Security is a very useful foundation to have. Networking with the focus on hybrid networking scenarios and organisations multi account are the good areas to focus..

Christopher Wong


Anton Umnikov

Thanks @Christopher!

1 Answers


Anton Umnikov

Thanks Brian! I hope some of my experience would be useful in your learning too.

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