I recently passed the Solutions Architect - Associate certification for AWS and thought I’d share notes on preparing for the certification. In a previous post, I covered the overall certification process and general tips. Let’s get to it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I study for this cert in particular?

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate exam provides the best overview of the certifications. It covers how to use most commonly used AWS services to build highly available and reliable services. It’s ideal if you have some experience working with AWS and designing distributed applications, but you don’t need to be an expert in it.

What does it cover?

We’ll cover this in more detail below. In short, it covers the core AWS services that you’re like to encounter. It primarily covers:

Which version should I take?

At the time of writing, there’s two versions of the certification:

If you’re starting now, I’d recommend taking the 2018 version as it will cover newer services and includes segments from the Well-Architected Framework material. I took the pre-2018 version because the material I found online only covered that version at the time. Because I studied for the older exam, some of the tips in this guide may not be applicable to the newer exam.

How did you prepare?

I covered my general study recommendations in the Intro to AWS Certifications post, so please check that out. In addition, I consulted posts about other people’s experience taking the exams. In particular, I read through:

One final note is that you should build things in AWS. Reviewing the lectures and reading through docs is helpful, but actually working with the services will help it stick.

How long did it take you?

The test took me longer than the Developer - Associate exam because it was my first AWS cert. I may have overprepared because I wanted to pass on the first attempt. Some numbers:

  • LinuxAcademy course:
    • ~12 hours: 20 hours of lectures at 1.5 or 2x speed
    • ~10 hours: Labs
    • 5 hours: 4x final practice exams
  • 4 hours: 3x final practice exams from ACloudGuru course
  • 5 hours: Reading online resources and other posts
  • ~10 hours: Reading the AWS Whitepapers and FAQs

That’s about 46 hours total. It sounds like a long time when I look at the numbers. In practice, I’d often spend an hour or so a night and sometimes a few hours on the weekend. I studied over 2 or 3 months before I took the exam.

What should I know about the test?

  • It’s multiple choice or multiple answer.
  • For the newer exam (2018), you have 130 minutes to answer 50 to 70 questions.
  • It costs $150 to take the exam.

Study Notes

This is roughly ordered in the frequency you’ll encounter topics for the course. For each service, I’ve included a set of questions with reference links for the kinds of things the certification covers.







Elastic Beanstalk





These are covered in less depth. It’s still helpful to know about them and play around if you have time.

Wrapping Up

Best of luck getting your AWS Certification! Pace yourself and try to enjoy the process. Please let me know if you get certified and / or if you found this helpful in your studies.