Book Review - AWS Solutions Architect Associate Exam Guide SAA-C03 (updated version as of late 2022) by Sybex/Wiley
As discussed earlier, knocking out some certifications to help validate your knowledge is a great way to differentiate your resume for your competitors.
Since Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a (the?) behemoth in the cloud infrastructure and services world, it's not a bad idea to learn some AWS skills and earn some certifications along the way.
When I started out building a cloud practice for a previously Cisco-focused VAR, I had to start from scratch. After knocking out the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (CLF-C01), which is a great entry-level cloud certification, I knew I would have to push further. Think about it, if a certification is relatively easy to attain, you will want to stand out if your goal is to work towards being a Subject Matter Expert (SME), thought leader, or just really good at your job of managing cloud infrastructure on AWS.
You do that by going up the ladder. Similar to my Cisco journey from CCNA to CCNP to CCIE, the higher you go, the less competition you will have. Of course, everything also gets harder along the way! =)
Since I already had the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and it was up for renewal, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by knocking out the next level exam, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate (SAA-C03). This would not only be a higher-level certification, but it would renew my CLF-C01! Cisco also does something similar, if for example, you wanted to renew an associate level certification by obtaining a professional level one.
Start off on the right foot (unlike me)
Checking out the official exam information and study guide from the source, in this case, AWS is always a good practice! They'll not only give you the outline/blueprint (which can seem overwhelming), but they can inform you about test versions and when they will change. Why is this important? Many of your study guides and materials will be focused on a particular version of the test. As technology, products, and services evolve, the tests will adapt to remove irrelevant information and update it with new, relevant information.
So unfortunately, I didn't realize the test had changed until AFTER I started studying (I had started an SAA-C02 course on A Cloud Guru)! Well, after looking around online, it turns out that most of the information would still be useful but there may be a few new questions regarding newer AWS features.
So, to supplement my notes on the video course, I decided to pick up the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Exam Guide (SAA-C03). For a very small investment, you get a great book that, I felt, prepared me to successfully pass the exam on my first attempt.
Not boring (relatively speaking, no offense Mr. Piper & Mr. Clinton)
Sure, this is not going to be a thriller/page-turner since it's a technical book, but I thought it was logically very well organized and written. All the subjects seemed in order without jumping around or referencing a section that hadn't been explained yet.
At the end of each chapter, there were some questions to assess your comprehension (I compiled those questions/answers in a separate document for quick review).
But wait, there's more!
The best part for me was access to a huge (900!) question bank to prepare yourself. Information provided in the book will allow you to create an account online and access test question that can be arranged in different styles to test your knowledge and get familiar with the format of the actual test questions! After feeling pretty good about the ACG test questions, I launched into these and promptly received a "sub-optimal" score... The good news was that I could take those questions that I missed and study those separately using the online test bank.
As someone who's taken a ton of multiple-choice exams (school and certification) and typically flies through them (you either know it, or you don't!), I LOVE reinforcing my knowledge with practice test questions like these!
I ran through these questions A LOT until I was consistently achieving more than 95% correct answers for each group of 100 questions I grouped together. It's a good idea to practice them in chunks that will be similar to the number of questions on the exam so you can see how good your time-management is.
If you're interested in passing this exam for any reason, I highly recommend buying this book, reading it from start to finish, and leveraging that online question bank. I recommended it to a colleague, and they just passed recently!