Tuesday, June 20, 2017

AWS Certified Developer Associate tips

Today I presented and passed the AWS Certified Developer - Associate exam. I found it tough even though it's an associate level but with due dedication it can happen.

I'd like to share my experience with you.

I got into AWS as part of my work at IO Connect Services with one of our customers. It's exciting as it's my first time doing Serverless and Cloud computing with AWS Lambda. Because of this, and other plans in my list, I decided to prepare for the AWS CDA exam. One thing I didn't realize is that there's a lot you have to learn for this, so in my mind it's not an associate level and you'll see why.

First of all, the topics you have to learn, and mostly memorize are:

  • AWS Cloud computing fundamentals.
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM).
  • Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2).
  • Elastic Block Store (EBS).
  • Simple Storage Service (S3).
  • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).
  • Elastic Load Balancer (ELB).
  • DynamoDB.
  • Simple Workflow Service (SWF).
  • Cloudformation.
  • Simple Queue Service (SQS).
  • Simple Notification Service (SNS).
  • Elasticbeanstalk.
All these services are spread in 4 categories within the exam:
  1. AWS Fundamentals.
  2. Designing and Developing.
  3. Deployment and Security.
  4. Debugging.
The format is in questions with multiple choices, where in multiple times you have to select all that apply.

In my experience, from these topics, you have to thoroughly go through IAM, VPC, EC2, DynamoDB, SQS and S3. The exam is bloated with questions about these services in deep, so you better get familiar with them and make sure that you can deploy an application by memory.

Also note that at this point I haven't mentioned SDKs. They are not covered in deep. As long as you can identify the supported SDKs you'll be mostly fine. This means that you will not be questioned about a particular API or routine from the SDKs. Bear in mind that you will be questioned about the REST API.

Like I said, it's tough but not impossible. I used the resources listed below to prepare myself.


I took these courses from Udemy. They are video tutorials and the instructor really does a good job at explaining each of the topics and scenarios. Also, the practice exams gave a lot of chance to improve as you can see explanations of the answers and you get to retake the exams and see how you improve.

Even though I also looked at different resources, I think these links will give you a good understanding of the feeling for this exam.

Safari Books.

Also, as I have a subscription to Safari Books, I used these video tutorials too. You can find them also in Packt.

Test King

Here you will find questions that are a lot like the ones in the exam. Really useful resource. I encourage you to go through all questions and also read the comments, as some of them are wrong but the folks in comments give you a really good hint.

Mobile app

These are mobile apps with a variety of exam-like questions. I bought it for under $10 USD. Available on Android and iPhone.


Last but not least, make sure you read the FAQ, particularly for S3, DynamoDB, EC2 and VPC. A lot of the questions are about things that do not come up often at development time, like limits, region support even corner cases specified there.

Is it an online exam?

No. Have in mind that this exam can only be applied by authorized proctors and probably you will have to allocate budget for your travel like I did. When you schedule your exam, you'll get to see the authorized centers close to you.

I know I didn't include a lot of information, but rather I wanted to give you a hint about what to study and where you can find resources. With this I also want to engage a conversation on the comments, so ask any question.

Happy reading!


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