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7 Tips to Pass AWS Certification Exams: The Weeks Before

Posted on November 1, 2018 by Christophe LimpalairChristophe Limpalair

So, you decided that AWS certification exams are worth it, and now you’re in the process of studying or are about to start studying for your first certification exam. These are the recommendations that we have based on our experience training tens of thousands of students.

1. Understand the types of questions asked and the exam format.

Before you start studying, it’s important to look at what the format of the actual exam is like. This can help give you a target to hit instead of aiming in the dark. This also gives you more peace of mind when you take the exam since you already know what to expect.
Below, I included some sample exam questions pulled from our certification prep courses:
Associate level questions from our AWS CSA-A course:  AWS CSA-A question

AWS CSA-A question

AWS CSA-A question

Professional level questions from our AWS Certified DevOps Engineer course:
AWS DevOps Engineer question AWS DevOps Engineer question AWS DevOps Engineer question

2. Break it down into manageable chunks.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and you’re not going to pass the exam if you don’t take it one step at a time.
The correct training will already help you break concepts down into manageable chunks, but don’t underestimate the time it takes to study them. Allocate enough time to make sure you thoroughly understand and complete the concepts, services, and hands-on activities.
Some people we train start studying after scheduling the exam date because it helps ensure they stay on track and actually study, but there is risk involved. The risk is that you end up not giving yourself enough time to study which results in cutting corners. So, I don’t particularly recommend this method. If you need accountability to stay on track, keep reading for tips on finding a study partner to hold you accountable.
Now, we can move on to the next point and perhaps one of the most important points.

3. Create a detailed schedule – what will you study and when?

A detailed schedule is important for a number of reasons. First, it helps you better estimate how long your training journey will take. Second, it helps you stay accountable by visibly tracking progress. Third, it helps you get into the habit of studying at regular intervals instead of simply going with “when I have enough time.”
Whether you use a course scheduler native to a training platform or your own calendar, set it up to the point where you can’t ignore it. Include details on what to study at what time and set notifications so you don’t forget. Granted, this is likely not a groundbreaking tip that you’ve never heard of, but it bears repeating because it is very important.

4. Find a study partner to hold you accountable.

This tip is also an important one. Just like a gym buddy holds you accountable for working out on a regular basis, a study buddy holds you accountable for studying for AWS Certification exams.
The best way to find study partners is to find others in your organization who are also studying for a certification exam. Preferably the same one as you. Bonus points if you can find a study partner with complementary skills to your own. You can also find another person who has already passed the exam and can give you additional insight.
If you don’t know anyone studying for certification exams, another option is to find local meetups with likeminded people. Meetups happen all over the country and in every major city, so you should have lots of opportunities to check one out.
Another option would be to join Slack channels which, similar to meetups, have like-minded folks. You can join Linux Academy’s slack channel and connect with thousands of students on the same journey as you.
Finally, you can join communities and study groups on online training platforms. This may not seem as personal at first, but you are far more likely to find like-minded people here since they are in the community for similar reasons to yours.
Regardless of how you find a partner, having someone to hold you accountable is a huge help when trying to pass certification exams.

5. Try to apply everything you learn – even concepts.

If you’re learning and studying to pass an AWS Certification, chances are you need practical knowledge and not just theoretical knowledge.
If you only memorize the concepts and you don’t try to apply them, they won’t stick. Unless you have a memory of steel (I wish I did), you will only remember concepts and not know how to use them which won’t help you once you’re on the job. That’s why we have built a platform which guides you through the real AWS Console so that you can become a real Amazon Web Services engineer and not just a paper-certified engineer.
You can read more about how Linux Academy has pushed the boundaries of online learning with Hands-On Labs and Interactive Diagrams. We don’t just want you to pass an exam and call it a day. We want you to learn how to apply skills and tools to your job and surpass your career goals.

6. When reviewing objectives focus on items you are weakest in.

Finding your weaknesses and knowing what to focus on as you near the day of the exam is something a lot of people struggle with.

“I’ve studied, but I’m not sure what to focus on now – it’s hard to tell what my weak points are or what I am missing.”

This is one of the main problems our platform solves. Whether you’re a seasoned cloud veteran trying to keep up with new features or trends or a beginner moving into a new career field, knowing where to start and knowing where to go next is a difficult challenge. Not for computers, though.
Our Artificial Intelligence engine is very good at knowing what you need to focus on based on how you perform in an AWS environment. It looks at the data and makes decisions based on that data. The data tells it exactly what your weak points are and it tells you exactly what you should do next.
It sounds hard to believe. I personally didn’t even know if it was possible before our team started working on the platform. Not only is it possible, but it makes perfect sense. It has to be the future of training and the future of education. It’s too efficient not to be.
However, if you’re trying to figure this out manually, the best advice I can give is:

7. Find someone to teach – if you can teach it, you have learned it.

This one is self-explanatory, and you’ve probably heard the saying before. If you can explain like I’m 5, then you understand it. If you can’t, then you probably don’t understand it well enough and need to review.

More Resources

We wrote a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam with exam logistics, courses, and white papers. Get it here.

You can also read more about the prerequisites required to take an AWS Associate exam here.

We take pride in being the #1 cloud training platform that helps you learn by doing. See all of our AWS courses, hands-on labs, practice exams, and more here.

Make sure to also connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for industry tips, news, and updates daily. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel for monthly updates and popular tutorials/demos.


Image of nex
3 years ago

after the several certifications (AWS, MS, Linux, Sec) I found that my best friend and the most important helper is red bull 😀 a lot of red bull..

Image of Christophe
3 years ago

I hear you – caffeine can definitely help!

Image of Jeff Noble
Jeff Noble
11 months ago

I’m studying the CSA-A. I love how Adrian breaks it down into manageable sections. Every time I come to a quiz, I not only take that quiz, but I then go back and take every quiz I’ve previously passed. Once I can pass every quiz from the first one to the current one, I move on.

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