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AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional – Study Guide and Exam Experience

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional – Study Guide and Exam Experience

As I posted on Twitter, I’m happy to say that I’ve officially passed the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional exam while at AWS re:Invent 2016. This was a goal I’ve had for quite a while and, a month or two ago, I finally took the plunge and scheduled the exam. While the exam experience wasn’t perfect (see below), I learned a TON (kind of the point, right?) and it was overall completely worth the hours spent studying. As a direct result, my confidence on the AWS platform increased substantially and got my week started off with a bang!


Exam Experience

AWS’ certification team had a great setup at the conference, with multiple booths set up for AWS certification information and dedicated testing rooms for both the Associate and Professional exams. The process to check-in and the testing room itself was simple and efficient and was configured with 60+ seats utilizing LG Cloud Monitors utilizing Amazon WorkSpaces on the back-end. Although we were slightly delayed due to some networking issues, we were led into the exam and I got started.


Reading question 5, my desktop freezes. I glance up from my cold stare at the monitor and realize everybody else in the room seems to be having the same issue. AWS tech support folks roll in within a minute or two and start troubleshooting.

…do physical switches need power?

<Whoops> Yup, the exam proctor in the from of the room accidentally kicked the power strip running the main switch in the room, killing the uplink to the entire room. Honest accident <Whoops/>

Apologies given….onward and upward…..

With question 77 answered, I click “Submit Exam.” (I almost clicked it after question 1 as the button is displayed throughout the entire test). That odd feeling traverses my entire body waiting for the result to display. Are you sure you want to submit?

Yes….click (that weird feeling again)

Please fill out our survey….Survey?…come on…I just want results after 2+ hours of answering questions….skip (again, feelings)


Achievement unlocked. I’ve now passed 4 out of 5 AWS certification exams and a huge relief is lifted off my shoulders. Time to celebrate, get a drink, and now focus on why I’m really here…AWS re:Invent 2016.

Overall, the exam was very fair, testing the candidate on a multitude of technologies including things like CloudFormation, OpsWorks, Elastic Beanstalk, VPC, Direct Connect/VPN, RDS, DynamoDB, ElastiCache, CloudFront, S3, IAM, CloudSearch, and much more. As the blueprint also states, the exam tests you on knowledge about designing hybrid solutions, architecting solutions for high availability, ensuring fast and reliable access to elastic demand, and how to ensure cost savings for your environment while ensuring requirements are still met. Although I’ve seen quite a few posts in regards to limited time, I had almost a full hour left when submitting, but then again, I had a similar experience when taking VMware Certified Advanced Professional exams as well (maybe I read quickly?)

Study Material

For anybody looking to take the exam, these are the study materials that I used. I likely spent too much time studying but then again, I learned a ton and I’m not sorry about that 🙂

  • course
  • course
  • PluralSight courses for CloudFormation and CloudWatch
  • Official Exam practice questions (Kryterion)
  • Sample questions from AWS on official exam page
  • Various AWS official User Guides and Developer documentation for services listed above (just go to the services page and find the Documentation link on the left) Example here for CloudFormation
  • Whitepapers listed on the official exam page (they’ve recently narrowed this down to only 3 short ones)
  • Also, check out Chris Williams’ blog here as he’s published his notes to share.

If you’re studying for the SA-Pro, I wish you luck on the exam and I hope this short guide helps. I’m on to the DevOps Professional test very soon.

About The Author

Bryan Krausen

Bryan Krausen is currently working as a Sr. Solutions Architect with experience in a vast number of platforms, specializing in AWS and HashiCorp tools.


  1. hi
    i am new to aws , what is the 1st level of exam (provide name) and where can i get all details.
    can you provide support information on my request.


  2. hi
    i am new to aws , what is the 1st level of exam (provide name) and where can i get all details.
    can you provide support information on my request.



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