How I passed AWS Developer Associate certification01 Feb 2021
I have always been interested in Devops, tinkering with servers, writing some bash scripts and always grabbed the chance to get my hands dirty in server side stuff. Despite my interest, I hadn’t dug deeper into cloud computing to get a full picture of how everything comes together and that irked me. In the course of building a side project and giving serverless architecture a real go I discovered I wasn’t knowledgeable to a level of comfort so I decided to get a better understanding of AWS. After finishing the course, I am so glad I took it and will share my learnings in future blog posts as I document the making of my new sideproject, nroute (more on that later). For now let’s discuss how I planned and passed it.
Step One: Have a goal
This is almost a platitude but without a goal sometimes it’s difficult to muster the grit needed to move the needle. When I decided to write my certification, I started off by paying for the exam fee, which effectively means I chose a date and made a solid commitment. In my case, I decided to give myself one month to study. Looking back, I do not think one month was realistic a period even though I had been somewhat exposed to how things work server side from Docker to EC2, S3, etc.
Step Two: Have a plan and solid habits
With my date set for the exam, I Googled ways to pass the exam. I came across Stephane Maarek’s course on Udemy and liked the student reviews it has so I quickly snatched it to use as the main material. Working a full day meant I had to find time to study everyday either before everyone is up (pre-6 am), or late at night. My goal was to study for 2 hours a day or finish one chapter a day. With the course having 30 chapters I intended to do 2 or 3 chapters on weekends which would then create enough time for mock exams around day 20. This plan was too ambitious and I failed miserably. To really understand this course one has to go beyond memorizing, that approach can work to “pass” for some but I prefer to understand material so the method of blazing through content came at odds with my preferred way of learning.
Step Three: Be flexible, make adjustments
Around day 18 or so, I could tell there was no way I was going to be ready for the exam at day 30. At that point I was experimenting with smart notes and planning my days using Roam Research. The beauty of Roam Research is the ability to have interlinked ideas which exposes a lot of connections in your notes and writing. It was a no brainer for me to pivot all my study material to use it. Instead of capturing notes in Udemy, I decided to transfer them to Roam Research!
This worked a treat and within about a week, I could tell how some of the services and patterns are linked to others - the AWS architectural map started forming itself, I was ecstatic!
Due to covid and work piling up on the side too, I decided to cancel my exam indefinitely until I was ready. Mistake number two. I never got ready for the exams for the next 3 or 4 months and just basically got distracted by more urgent needs.
Step Four: Make more adjustments and don’t give up
With the festive holiday looming, I decided to give it yet another go as I could see myself with a few days to rest after Christmas. Again I started by purchasing an exam ticket for the 31st of January 2021. I decided I’d need about a month again to get over the line if i could commit myself. I pressed pause on any other side projects, brushed up on my notes and in addition to the Udemy course, I did more research to find out how best to prepare for the exam. After trying out some exam dumps, I decided they were no good and purchased revision material on tutorialsdojo.com. This was an absolute game changer.
Step Five: Dive in, head first
After going through my Udemy course for the second time, I decided to take mock exams on Tutorials Dojo and I gave myself one week for “free learning” which included reading whitepapers, related work and doing any labs that tickled my fancy to make some concepts stick. On Tutorials Dojo I started scoring very low: 51.85% (in my first attempt), 65% in my second but I stuck at it until I was consistently scoring in the 80s and 90s. What makes Tutorial Dojo so fantastic are the different ways of studying it offers, from timed tests, review mode to section based material, I was able to spot my weaknesses and zone in on them.
When end of January came through, I did not feel 100% prepared but I was ready. Doing anything in Africa is more complicated than it needs to be, we had a power outage for 26 hours and I didn’t get to properly revise the night before with my exam scheduled at 6am! I spent the whole night waiting for power to come back to no avail LOL. Nevertheless, I went in determined to put my best foot forward and I was so happy to see the screen flash with “passed” at the end! I got 843/1000 in the end, I really was aiming for 900+ score but overall I am pleased with the actual knowledge I got from this experience.
I wish you all the best in your journey, if you need any help regarding this exam just reach out anytime.