Be afraid of your desires – they have the peculiarity of being fulfilled.
Over the summer, I came across the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam preparation guide. I already had practical experience with the Amazon cloud, but I wanted to better understand new technologies. In July, everything came together – there was free time and a desire to expand knowledge, and as a bonus to receive a certificate.
Before starting the training, I thought that I already had knowledge, but it needed to be refreshed a little. After that, getting your starter AWS Cloud Practitioner certification is easy. According to Amazon, it takes 6 months of working with the cloud to get the initial certificate. According to some bloggers, one month is enough.
I began to study head-on – I opened the manual and began to read, moving from one chapter to another. It took about an hour to read one chapter. I read one, sometimes two chapters a day. After each chapter, it was necessary to pass a mini-test of 20 questions. It took another half hour. Total 1.5 hours * 12 chapters = 12 days. I successfully coped with this. I took mini-tests on paper, looked at the answers, analyzed errors, and read them again.
There was a bonus hidden in the manual that I didn’t notice at the beginning of my reading. You can register on the site and answer test questions online. It is convenient – you can mix questions, take tests several times, see analytics and even correct questions if you suddenly find an error.
After a week and a half of alternating reading and testing, I decided that the preparation was successful. It was time to take the exam, but for this it was necessary to register for it. The process turned out to be simple. I already had an AWS account, going to aws.training in my personal profile, I chose a testing center and appointed an exam time.
Here I would like to clarify a little. Before the pandemic, exams were taken in person, you had to choose an accredited center nearby, come to the exam with documents and pass it under the watchful eye of examiners. Now everything has become easier – the test can be taken online, at any time of the day or night from anywhere in the world, where the Internet is caught.
The AWS exam can be taken online through two test centers. It’s either PSI or Pearson VUE. At the time of registration, I did not notice the difference between the two centers, so I registered using the first link that led to PSI. Later it turned out that many people chose Pearson VUE for a reason.
The exam is paid, the Practitioner level is $ 100, the Associate level is $ 150, and the Professional level is $ 300. The money is transferred immediately upon registration for the exam.
So, I registered for the exam and started waiting. Let me remind you that I passed all trial tests at 90-100 percent and thought that I should not have problems with passing. A few days before the exam, after listening to bloggers, I decided to take a practice test on Whizlabs, which many praised.
It was surprising that in the mock test I answered only 60 percent of the questions, despite the fact that in a real exam you need to score at least 70. By the way, the score of a real exam is not calculated as a percentage – each question has its own weight and you can gain from 100 up to 1000 points per exam. But for the sake of simplicity, everyone counts in percentages, so it’s easier to compare.
There were two days left before the exam. After a little thought, I decided to buy and run the full Whizlabs benchmark suite for $ 10. In subsequent tests, I scored the same 60-70 percent, made a lot of mistakes and was clearly not ready for the exam.
Where should I share my knowledge? The knowledge was still there. It turned out that the guide that I studied was published in 2019, and it is already 2021. Over the past two years, many changes have occurred in the Amazon cloud, new services have appeared that I did not know about. In addition, some time ago AWS switched to a new version of tests, changing some of the questions.
Realizing that I wouldn’t be able to pass the exam at once, I postponed the exam for a week. It turned out to be easy to postpone the exam – you go into your personal account, choose a new date and that’s it. The main thing is to do this no later than 24 hours before the exam itself. If there is any valid reason, then you can postpone the exam later, but this must be done through PSI support.
Life hack 1: The exam must be rescheduled if you are not sure what you will pass. Otherwise, you will have to wait two weeks in “quarantine” and again pay $ 100 for a new exam.
After a week of taking Whizlabs tests, reading Amazon documentation and watching videos, I managed to catch up with two years of changes. The knowledge was superficial, but it should have been enough to pass the initial certificate.
The day before the exam, I began to prepare the workplace. According to the requirements, there should be no foreign objects on the desktop and around, the windows should be curtained, all doors should be closed, there should be no one in the room except the handler. That is, a real exam, on which it is impossible to spy on or cheat.
To pass the exam, you need to download a special browser that blocks all applications on your laptop and monitors you throughout the testing. The day before the exam, I checked my system for compatibility through the PSI website, downloaded the browser, installed it on my Ubuntu and started preparing for the exam.
On the day of the exam, you can launch the browser 30 minutes before the actual test. This is necessary to check documents and go through other formalities. So I did it. The browser offered to take a photo of the passport, then a selfie, then make a 360-degree video of the room. After that, the browser offered to wait for the observer. After waiting half an hour, I restarted the browser and repeated all the steps, after which the browser froze again. The exam, meanwhile, should have begun a long time ago.
By cursing and filling out various forms with unnecessary information on the PSI website, I reached out to the support team. After another 15 minutes, I was transferred to tech support, who logged into my laptop and found out that the Ubuntu version is not supported. They sailed. I did not manage to pass the exam that day, but I managed to postpone it to the next day.
In the evening I unpacked the spare laptop, installed the Windows version of the required version, rolled the updates, additionally checked the compatibility on the PSI website, and the next day I was ready for delivery fully armed. I wasted a lot of nerves, but the next day I was able to start the exam.
Life hack 2: If the PSI browser prompts you to do something and at the same time you cannot see the observer in the chat, then something is not going according to plan. You either do not have a supported system, or you do not have the latest version of the browser. Reinstalling the system 15 minutes before the exam is unlikely to work out of the excitement, so it’s worth preparing in advance.
I would like to say a few more words about the observer. It is from him at the beginning of the exam that all instructions come, he checks your documents, the room you are in, the presence of any devices on you, and only then starts the test. In this case, the observer does not speak to you, but simply writes instructions in the chat. During the exam, the observer sees your screen, looks at you through the camera and hears everything that happens in the room.
During the exam, your face falls into a so-called “grip”. The face cannot leave the camera. Every time you raise your hands, the observer triggers an alarm and he rushes to make a remark to you. Therefore, if your nose itches or you want to touch your face, then think a few times. If the face leaves the confines of the chamber, this may cause the exam to be terminated.
Once you start testing on AWS Practitioner, you are given 90 minutes and 65 questions. It’s simple – you answer all the questions, you get a certificate. Questions can be single or multiple answer. In this case, after the question, it is usually indicated how many answers should be. Questions can be flagged to come back to later. Additionally, you can take notes, but when time is short, there is no desire to write notes.
Testing can be done in several languages, but Russian is not among them. I passed the test in English, because it is easier this way, you do not need to translate terms from one language to another, and most of the videos and tutorials are written in it.
Lifehack 3: If English is not your first language, you can activate the option that gives 30 minutes of extra time. The option is activated before registering for the exam in your personal account. You only need to activate it once, the time will be automatically added to all subsequent exams. To pass the Practitioner level, 30 minutes will not do the weather, but for all subsequent levels they will not be superfluous.
One of the videos we watched advised that after answering all the questions, there is no need to rush to complete the test. It is advisable to review the most difficult questions again and look for errors in the answers. Working tip, I managed to find a couple of errors in the remaining time.
Life hack 4: Before the end of the exam, a warning window pops up. The window says that the time is up, but additional time can be added. In this window, be sure to press continue. If you press qiut, the session will end and you will not know whether you passed the exam or not.
So, I answered all the questions, clicked on continue and then completed the exam with a separate button. After that, the screen showed information that I had successfully passed the test. Saying goodbye to the silent observers, I ended the session.
Two days later, a notification came in the mail. At the same time, a certificate and a detailed report appeared in the AWS Training account, with the number of points that I scored. Also at Credly I was solemnly “presented” with the corresponding badge.
It took me $ 140 and two and a half weeks to get ready. During this time, I read an outdated manual and then independently fished out information on the Internet using tests from Whizlabs.
I figured out the procedure for passing the exam, set up the system for passing the next exam, and practiced speed reading in English. After the exam, I received a certificate and several pleasant bonuses from AWS, the most important of which are a 50 percent discount on the next exam and a free practice test.
Let’s speculate. You can jump over the Practitioner level and immediately prepare for Associate certification, depriving yourself of the opportunity to prepare for the online testing process itself, which does not always go smoothly. At the same time, the Associate level exam costs $ 150. If you don’t give up on the first try, you will have to pay twice, which is $ 300.
On the other hand, after passing the Practitioner level, you get a 50 percent discount on the next exam. There will be $ 100 for the first exam and $ 75 for the second. As a result, 175 dollars upon successful delivery on the first try.
Which option to choose from the two, you decide on your own, but if you have never worked with the Amazon cloud, then you need to start with the first certificate, gradually being drawn into the subject area. If you have knowledge, but it is outdated, then it is better to start from the basic level again, restore knowledge and additionally practice online testing.
That’s all for me. If you liked the article and would like to know how to pass to the AWS Solution Architect Associate level, then write in the comments.
All success in certification!