Frank, I'm going back and finishing the Linux Essentials course before I do the pro courses and exams. My background is Windows pretty much exclusively. The more I dive into AWS and all of the automation options, I'm realizing that I need to get at least efficient in Linux, if not good, in order to be a legitimate cloud computing expert. If I knew Linux, the AWS course work and labs would have gone smoother and faster for me. I ended up spending extra time doing the simple things in Linux because I wasn't familiar with it.
Thanks everyone for the congrats!
Saman, I have found that taking and finishing the courses will get you very well prepared. QwikLabs has additional labs that are worth the time to do to gain more experience if you don't work with CloudFormation, ElasticBeanstalk, OpsWorks or any other tool in AWS on a regular basis. Also, reviewing the white-papers and FAQs has been a tremendous help. I purchase and take the AWS practice exams and screen shot each question with my answer. Since they don't tell you which questions you got right or wrong, I go back and verify my answer on each question by using the lessons on L.A., the user guides and FAQs. It forces you to understand what they are looking for and learn more. Also, the practice exams on L.A. are really good. Take and retake those as many times as you have time for. It's good practice for test taking and they let you know what questions you got wrong and why. If you are passing the L.A. practice exams and the AWS practice exams you are ready.
1) I usually dedicate an average of 20 hours per week the 3 or 4 weeks before the exam. I do at least 12 hours of study on the weekends, which includes 6 – 9 on Saturday and Sunday. Then I will stay late at the office and do 3 hours before I leave work a few times during the week. This has worked for me. Sometimes is more than 20 sometimes it's less depending on what life decides to throw at me.
2) Regarding the order, I took the SAA April 26th and passed after 30 days of study. Then the SysOps on May 30th and failed by 2 or 3 questions (65%). Took a month of to deal with some work/family things in June. Picked back up the studying early July. Took Developer exam Aug 5 and passed, then retook SysOps Aug 19th and passed.
3) As far as preparation, I follow the advice of the instructors, I read a lot of blogs about AWS certifications and I’ve worked on infrastructure projects for clients that are completely hosted in AWS. If you finish the LA courses (including the practice exams), treat the white papers and FAQs like religious text (lol but seriously), and take the AWS practice exams, you’ll be very prepared. Up above I give a little bit more detail in my preparation. But I will say this, be confident in your answers on the real exams. If you are, you’ll finish with enough time to review your answers but don’t second guess yourself unnecessarily. I made that mistake the first time I took the SysOps exam and failed it.