freeCodeCamp started the #AWSCertified challenge at the beginning of this year. You can get AWS certified with totally free courses.
Yes, you read that right. Free courses.
AWS offers 12 certifications. Today, 3 courses are available on freeCodeCamp's YouTube channel:
- AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
- AWS Certified Developer Associate
In this post, I'll show you how to pass your AWS Certified Developer Associate exam successfully.
Establish a learning routine
We're all busy in our daily lives. Always something to do and never enough time. Preparing for the AWS Certified Developer Associate takes time and commitment.
According to Andrew Brown, it can take up to 2 months of study to pass this exam. You need to get your hands dirty to understand all the concepts discussed in the course, contrary to the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner or AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate certs.
It took me 20 days to complete my exam preparation, but that's not the point. What matters is your commitment to learning every day.
I progressed by baby steps. From Monday to Saturday. Each day, I dedicated myself 4 or 5 hours to the task. For sure, you can spend less time. The most important thing is to find what is best for you and work regularly.
My preparation was divided into 4 steps:
- Watch 2 or 3 sections of the course while taking notes
- Deep dive into things I didn't understand
- Read AWS whitepapers
- Take practice exams
I used the free ExamPro AWS Certification course developed by Andrew Brown. It's a 16-hour course posted on YouTube which helps you to understand AWS and practice with Follow Along sections. Andrew Brown did tremendous work. His explanations are very clear and go straight to the point.
Sometimes you'll be frustrated to not understand something. I remember being stuck all afternoon with the first Follow Along. I even thought about skipping it because it was so demotivating.
The next day, after a good night of sleep, I spent all day debugging the code. I even submitted a pull request to help others. Solving this issue helped me deep dive into things I didn't understand and motivated me to write other AWS stories to consolidate my knowledge.
After completing the course, you might feel the need to supplement what you learned. You can read the AWS whitepapers recommended by Andrew Brown.
In my case, I read the following ones:
- Practicing Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery on AWS: Accelerating Software Delivery with DevOps
- Microservices on AWS
- Architecting for the Cloud: AWS Best Practices
It was my first-time reading AWS whitepapers. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised! It helped me a lot to understand the things I was missing and gave me the confidence to book my exam.
If you're curious about how to schedule your online exam, you can watch Marcia Villalba's YouTube video. She explains everything you need to know to avoid stressing yourself out too much.
Something worth mentioning: AWS gives you a 50% discount for booking your next exam when you pass one!
A few days before your exam, I strongly recommend you train with practice exams. You can find them easily on the Internet. Andrew Brown gave me access to ExamPro to take the Developer Associate Practice Exam.
The practice exam was challenging. It's close to the real exam. You have 2 hours to answer 65 questions and the clock is ticking. After submitting your practice exam, your score is displayed. Most importantly, you can review your wrong answers and read the explanations to understand why you made these mistakes.
If you failed your practice exam, be sure to review your questions/answers first before taking the same practice exam. It will improve your confidence for the real exam.
I was able to pass the AWS Certified Developer Associate exam. Before that, I passed the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate with the same preparation.
All this requires time, patience, and dedication. I'm not special, you can do it too. It won't be easy at first but it's worth doing.
The course is not enough
You're wrong if you think the 16-hour course is enough to let you pass. If you plan to schedule your exam after studying only this course, you'll miss for sure many questions.
Don't worry, Andrew Brown covered most of these topics in the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate course.
Here is a non-exhaustive list to help you with your exam:
- Amazon Machine Image (AMI)
- Elastic File System (EFS)
- Elastic Block Store (EBS)
- VPC Follow Along
Beginners can pass the exam
Say you're a complete beginner and you're wondering if you should take the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner first.
AWS designed a Developer Learning Path with the recommended certifications.
The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is not mandatory. You're good to go if you have some basics in programming.
Of course, exam preparation will require more work. Establish your learning routine to prepare enough. Don't be afraid to deep dive on your own. You have to understand the course and not memorize it. Be sure to understand containers and Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD).
Keep working, you can do it!
My online exam experience
I had a technical problem with my online proctored exam. The proctor started my exam after the check-in process. But my screen turned black and it was impossible to see the questions!
The proctor contacted me by audio conference. We spent 20 minutes together trying to fix the problem, but it was impossible to start my exam.
If something similar happens to you, you have to contact the customer service as soon as possible. It's impossible to connect again to your online exam. Send directly your email form to: https://home.pearsonvue.com/aws/contact
Your issue will be solved in 3-5 business days. It takes about a week to schedule your exam again. Be patient!
To avoid unpleasant surprises, I recommend you:
- Run the System Test before your exam
- Reboot your laptop on the exam day
- Be sure to log into your account 30 minutes early to start the check-in process
- Close all your applications except your exam app after the check-in
Last be not least, scheduling your exam for the first time can be difficult. With the current situation, it can be challenging to find a schedule suitable for you.
Did you know that you can reschedule your exam appointment up to two times if you're not happy with it? It's exactly what I did for my second try. My first exam appointment was at 09:15 PM which wasn't good for me. I managed to change the appointment at 3:00 PM and pass!
It's now your turn
During almost 42 days I committed myself to the #AWSCertified challenge.
It was exhausting and not easy every day, but I don't have any regrets. Although I still don't know all AWS services (is that even possible?), I learned a lot about AWS and cloud computing. I know for sure it will help me in the future!
I also met some pretty amazing people along the way. In the beginning, I was a bit reluctant to tweet about my progress or encourage people. Now, I'm convinced that's the best way to do this challenge.
Don't be shy! Feel free to join the Discord channel to ask your questions or contact people directly on Twitter. You'll be amazed at the result.
It was a long journey. I would like to thank Andrew Brown and Quincy Larson for making it possible.
I did my part and now it's your turn.
Are you ready to commit to the challenge?
Any questions? Feel free to contact me on Twitter or directly on the freeCodeCamp Discord channel. I will try my best to answer you.