I have just obtained my AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification after spending the past days fully focused on it. Here I’ll tell you my experience and a few details that may interest you if you are considering taking the exam, like how much I had to pay in total (including preparation) and how much time I actually dedicated to study and practice. I hope that you find it useful!!
Is the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Worth It?
I absolutely think so. Even if you are experienced with a few AWS services, chances are that you only know a tiny amount of what is possible to do on the Amazon cloud. After all, there are more than 200 services on AWS, offering things from Machine Learning to 3D modelling.
The Cloud Practitioner requires you to have a high-level overview of the possibilities of the cloud and of the most important AWS Services, as well as architecture principles and account management. In my opinion, it’s a great way to consolidate and structure your fundamental knowledge of AWS before attempting the Associate Level Certifications.
Also, by passing the Cloud Practitioner you get a first-hand experience of the AWS certification process before attempting to obtain a costlier (both in terms of time and money) certification level.
My Prior Experience With AWS
I have never been an AWS pro user, but I’ve used it for a couple of personal projects in the past, and since the application I work on for my job is set up on AWS, I’m no stranger to it and kinda know my way on a few of services, mainly EC2, S3 and Lambda.
However, if you have no prior experience on AWS, you shouldn’t be afraid. True, you’ll probably need some time to get used to it. You’ll need to learn how to interact with the CLI. And you’ll specially need to become familiar with the intimidating GUI of the AWS Console.
The Resources I Used To Prepare For The Exam
The Course: Ultimate AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner 2021, by Stephane Maarek
The course gives you a detailed review of all the contents covered by the exam, but its main goal is for you to actually learn the content, not just to get the correct answer for the exam questions. It includes detailed hand-on demonstrations for the core services, which are invaluable, specially if you’ve never used them before.
You can check yourself the excellent ratings the course has on Udemy, and the great reviews everywhere else. I have used this course alone to study for the exam and I have felt 100% prepared.
Practice Exam Pack by Stephane Maarek and Abhishek Singh on Udemy
This is a pack of 6 practice exams that you can get at a fraction of the cost of the official practice exams ($20 each). In my experience, the questions are pretty similar to the actual exam. It is also loaded with great explanations for every question and answer, so it’s great to review your knowledge.
Total Cost Of The AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification
As long as certifications go, this one is on the cheap side, with the total cost just north of a hundred quid.
|Udemy Practice Exams||£12.99|
|AWS Costs (incl. taxes)||£0.19 (USD 0.27)|
|Exam Cost (incl. taxes)||£85.07 (USD 120)|
Please note that if you’re new to AWS or set up a new account for the course, you can probably practice fully within the AWS free tier.
I already had an account that I used a couple of years ago. I decided to stick with it because opening up a new one to save a few pennies wasn’t worth the effort for me. But that’s totally up to you. The AWS free tier is a very interesting option specially if you want to test heavily some services like EC2.
The full price of the Udemy Course and Practice Exams is much higher than what I paid (£49.99 each at the time of writing). However, Udemy is constantly running promotions, so it’s not difficult to get them at a heavily discounted price. Also, if you are a student, you can ensure that you get the best price by accessing Udemy through Unidays.
Also, remember that passing the exam gives you a 50% discount coupon on any further AWS certification that you may wish to obtain, and a free practice exam. This certainly offsets the cost if you are planning to get an higher level certification in the future.
I wanted to get the certification as quickly as possible. This may not be the best way to get it for you, as I discuss in the next section.
I personally enjoy focusing 100% when I’m studying for something, and I had the free time to do it.
So my plan looked a little bit like this:
Day 1 (8-10 hours)
- Firstly, familiarise with the Certification: check its contents, read the exam guide, and look at the sample questions (see https://aws.amazon.com/certification/certified-cloud-practitioner/) [~1 hour]
- Secondly, watch the first half Course, practise along, and take notes if necessary [7-9 hours]
Day 2 (9-11 hours)
- Complete watching the course, practising along, and taking notes if necessary [7-9 hours]
- Take the practice exam at the end of the Course to check how prepared you are [30 mins – 1 hour]. If you get a score above 80-85%, you’re probably good to go.
Day 3 (5-10 hours)
- Book your Pearson VUE exam at home (yes, you can do it the same day!) for later, download the software and test your computer [30 mins]
- Go over the Course slides and your notes, and take a practice exam. Identify what you’re struggling with, go back to that, and repeat the process. Do it at least 2-3 times depending on how ready you are. [4-8 hours]
- Take the exam! [30 – 90 minutes]
Should I Plan To Get The AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification In 3 Days?
If, as I do, you like to fully concentrate on something and you’re familiar enough with AWS and IT in general that this exam doesn’t look too complicated, definitely.
But this is not to say that this is super easy and that you’re stupid if you take longer. Absolutely not. Maybe you don’t have the available time needed to do it intensively. Or you don’t want to stress over it. Or you want to explore AWS in detail practising with every service.
You do you. Don’t let some random fella on the internet tell you that there’s only a valid way to do this sort of thing. My only advise is that you plan how long more or less you want to take and plan to study according to your needs.
Is The AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam Difficult?
I don’t think so. The subject it’s definitely long, but, in my opinion, it’s not really complex.
Yes, there are a lot of things to study and it may get confusing at times, but at this level you don’t have to acquire any deep knowledge or require significant hands-on experience. Above all, if you’re considering to get this certification, you’ve probably studied for things various orders of magnitude more complicated than it. So don’t worry too much.
Tips & Tricks
- Don’t focus entirely on studying the AWS services. A lot of the questions will ask for things like billing, best practices, security or support plans. The course covers everything in great detail.
- Don’t feel stupid if you don’t remember all the service names. AWS naming conventions are famously not the best ones, so it’s normal to have to go back to see how the service-that-did-that-thing was called.
- You’ll need to go over the dozen services that do basically-the-same-thing-but-in-a-slightly-different-way a couple of times. That’s normal!
- Test your computer with the exam software ahead of time!! You don’t want to find yourself having to troubleshoot your microphone or your security permissions in the 10 minutes
- As I said above, you can book the at home test with Pearson VUE the same day, and even just a couple of hours in advance. Use that to your advantage and don’t book the test until you’re ready.
Becoming an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner has been a great learning experience for me. As a developer using apps on AWS I now feel much comfortable understanding the infrastructure and seeing ways to possibly optimise it in the future.
I will probably go for the AWS Associate Developer Certification in the short/medium term, so I’ll update you on how that goes! In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! I’ll do my best to reply