AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate Exam Tips

Tips on how to prepare for AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate certification and pass it.

This article covers how to prepare for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate exam and pass it. Let’s start with an overview of what to expect.

Exam summary

Coming from AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, the jump to AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate is huge. Granted, the two exams have concepts in common, but AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate covers so much more.

The exam has 65 questions, either multiple-choice or multiple responses. It’s also a mental test because you have 130 minutes to complete the exam. Be prepared for mental fatigue as you go through the exam.

AWS relies on Pearson Vue to proctor the exams. This means that you will use a third-party service to download an application that will lock down your computer while you take the exam while being monitored by a proctor.

Exam preparation

Start with this course at Udemy: Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C03 by Stephane Maarek. It’s a twenty-seven-hour long course with a practice test at the end, plus additional resources. It’s a great way to start, as it gives you a good foundation on what’s covered in the exam. 

Then start rolling through test exams. As many as you can. Here are some offered by Udemy:

The three exam packs listed above are great. We highly recommend doing them all.

If you did all of these, you might spend about 66 hours in preparation.

  • A 27 hours theoretical course.
  • Three exam packs with six tests each. Each test is 130 minutes long. (3 x 6 x 130) / 60 = 39 hours.

On top of that, you may have already become an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, which will give you a solid foundation for this one. We covered that certification in a previous article.

A minimum passing score is 720 out of 1000. You may not pass on your first practice exams, and that’s ok. Just look for improvement as you go along. Try to reach scores between 700 to 800, which will give you the confidence to take the real thing. To bump up your scores, try studying the free AWS cheat sheets at Tutorials Dojo.

There is a lot to learn and memorize, so consistency is key. You have to find some time every day to study. Set a schedule and train a habit. Whatever works for you. Fifteen minutes at the end of every day or an hour to start the day. Squeeze in some bonus time on weekends if there is nothing else to do.

Exam day tips

Start by reading AWS’ certification FAQ from top to bottom. It contains great information to help you prepare.

Here are a few tips:

  • Imagine each question as a set of LEGO blocks. As you read, add pieces to your build and its connections. This will help you reason what is being asked.
  • Get the room where you will take your exam as tidy as possible. Remove all the clutter by moving it to another room. Make it as easy as possible for the proctor to decide that your room is safe to take the exam.
  • If you are on a laptop plugged into a monitor, close the laptop so only the monitor screen is on. Otherwise, the proctor will ask you to use your laptop since only one screen is allowed.
  • Some built-in webcams don’t have enough resolution to scan your personal identification, such as your passport. Consider a USB webcam that you can move around the room to take pictures to show to the proctor.
  • Pick a time of the day when you feel the sharpest. Don’t leave the exam for the end of the day since you will need that mental strength to go through the questions effectively.
  • Take notes as you go through the exam. The exam application has a notepad you can use as you progress. It’s helpful to build a list in which each line is the question number and a short description such as “ok” or “ko.” Once you finish the first pass at the questions, you can go straight to the ones that gave you trouble.


Learning AWS, and validating that knowledge, will help you understand how the cloud works and how to apply those concepts when working with clients. It’s hard work but ultimately worth it. Enjoy the journey. We hope this article helps you get across the finish line.

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