I finally passed the Solutions Architect Associate exam. It was much harder than I thought it would be and I did worse on it than I thought I did. This was my second attempt at the exam (my first attempt was December 2015, so I've been a little gunshy in taking it again until I thought I was ready). I definitely could not have passed the exam without the great course that was given by Thomas Haslett. Having the pictorial refences in Project Orion was also very helpful in understanding networking and how all of the pieces in AWS fit together. Not having a networking background really hindered me, but along the way, I picked up a lot of networking knowledge as a result of LinuxAcademy's excellent instruction.
Just for context, when I failed the exam in 2015, my test score was 49%. This time it was 60%. I would have thought that wasn't enough to pass, but I understand that AWS used propietary algorithms to determine the test score and so another person's 60% may not be enough to pass.
The one thing that would have improved my test score would have been to do more hands-on playing around in AWS but without any guidance. Walking through the hands-on lab in the course was very helpful, but I found that I didn't really pay attention to the specific drop downs and why I was clicking the buttons that Thomas was directing me to do. This was all on me, and I wish I had done that for at least a month prior to the exam.
Other than the LinuxAcademy training course and practice exams, another thing that helped me was the AWS CSA Architect Official Study Guide put out by Amazon. In that book, each chapter has a lab section where it tells you what to do, but doesn't give you all of the steps to do it. I should have spent more time on those labs to really cement my understanding of the AWS platform. I did think that the exams in each chapter (and on-line at Sybex - links are given in the book) was also worthwhile.
I am now working on the Certified SysOps examination. I'll let you know when I pass that :-).