AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional 2020

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Sharing My Preparation, Experience and Tips after Passing the Exam on May 10th 2019

Hello everyone,

Just would like to contribute back to community that helps me tremendously in passing CSAP 2019 exam. 

I work as a web developer and started exploring AWS in November 2018, so I have a little over 6 months of AWS experience, mainly with EC2, EBS, S3, RDS, when I took the exam.

My Preparations (5 weeks with 15 minutes to 3 hours of study everyday including weekends):

1. A Cloud Guru – AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional course.

2. A Cloud Guru – AWS Certification Preparation Guide

3. AWS Documentations

  • Read at least first 100 pages of each AWS service PDF documentation covered in the exam with priority on unfamiliar services.

  • I skipped the tutorial and setup part when reading them.


4. Tutorial Dojo – AWS Cheat Sheet

  • Thank you Jon Bonso

  • Good for review and comparison between services.


5. Tutorial Dojo – AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional Practice Exams

  • Got it for $9.99 with coupon.

  • I took them 11 times across 4 exams (3 for each practice exams except the last one since I ran out of time) and I think the explanation are very good.

  • I alternated between taking exams (weekends) and reading (weekdays) and ended last week before exam with practice exams.


6. A Cloud Guru – AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Exam

  • I took the practice exam 3 times and found it very helpful.



  • I didn’t read a lot of FAQs due to time constraint but I do find them helpful and wish I have read more.

My Experience:

  • I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the questions during the exam which chewed on time really really fast.

  • I was stunned on my first question for over 5 minutes. Overall, the questions are harder or less obvious than any of the practice exams that I took.

  • Somehow I managed to answer all questions, double check about half of them with 15 seconds left on the clock. That is with ESL +30 minutes exam accommodation.

My Tips:

  • Take practice exam as early as possible. This helped me expose my weak points early, so I know what to focus on.

  • After the practice exam, I went through each question, even though I got it right and made sure I understand the explanation (this is when I can see the application of Mattias’ mental model concept)

  • When I retook the practice exam, for each question, I go through each option and explain to myself why it is correct or incorrect. This helped me in the exam to make accurate decision as the options for each question will be very similar to one another.

  • Take a lot of practice exams one week before the exam or earlier. This helped me prepare my mind for the exam.

  • I went through the practice exams as fast as I can and tried to maintain at least 90% score. Going through them fast helped me practice to make a quick and accurate decision.

  • I kept track on which materials and/or whitepapers that I have read to make sure I don’t spend time reading the same materials multiple times due to time constraint.

  • If English is not your first language, get the ESL exam accommodation which will add 30 minutes to your exam time. (

  • Try to go through the exam questions fast. Make sure each question attempt is your best but watch the time. I didn’t have time to review all questions and I lost lots of time in the first few questions.

  • Every half an hour or so, I wrote down the next pace that I need on the scratch paper given. This helped me watch my time and set my goal for the next time checkpoint. On average, 2 minutes per question pace is about right.

  • When in doubt, I always preferred option that contains only AWS services than the one which include third party tool. This is not always correct, but did help me many times.

  • Read the question very carefully. For example, the question might say a company is having issue with database read and write but only ask the solution for read.

  • Another thing that helped me during the exam is common sense. Sometimes, common sense is not common for me when doing any exam. For example, during the practice exam, one of the questions is about RDS DR solution to another region. I choose Multi-AZ because it is for DR while read replica is for performance. However, read replica can be promoted to be primary instance during DR and can be placed in a different region while Multi-AZ is constraint to a region, so the answer is actually read replica.

Other helpful links:

I hope it helps and wish everyone who will take the exam all the best.



Yutao Dou

Congrats Nikki, thanks for sharing, it’s very valuable for me.

3 Answers

Congrats Nikki and thank you for contributing back!  Great content.

Nikki Yodo

Thank you Scott. I really appreciate your kindness in sharing your expertise. It was very helpful.

Great, thank for your shared.

Nikki Yodo

My pleasure. Wishing you all the best, LinhPhan.

Initially, I plan to get the SA Pro exam but I very doubt because English is my second language and my reading skill is very slow. 

After I read your post and we could request 30mins extends for ESL, I think I’ll be more confident if I took the exam with 30mins extra.

Thanks for sharing

Nikki Yodo

I completely understand your situation. Reading in English is definitely not my strong point. Glad the info on ESL helps. Anyway, wishing you the best for your SA Pro exam, Adi. We would love to hear how it goes.

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