I hold AWS Certified SysOps Administrator and AWS Certified Solutions Architect certifications.
Whether you're taking the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate exam SAA-C01 or SAA-C02 (new in 2020), the main thing you want to know is whether or not you're ready to pass. The exams are expensive at $150, so you absolutely don't want to fail. If you do fail, not only are you $150 dollars poorer, but you won't be able to retake the test for two weeks. And you'll have to pay another $150 to retake it. You absolutely want to go into the test prepared to pass, and practice tests are the best way to get an idea of how well you'll do on the real thing. There are quite a few tests available for purchase at the associate level. The more you test yourself with high quality tests, the better prepared you will be. This is especially true if you take notes based on what you got wrong and study them. You will want to know what your weaknesses are before you take the test, not while you're taking it. These three tests are some of the best.
- Neal Davis - learn.digitalcloud.training (also available on Udemy, but there are more questions if you purchase directly from the website)
- Jon Bonso (available on Udemy)
- Whizlabs (when you purchase the tests, you'll also have access to several labs)
How can you know when you're actually ready to take the real exam? When I was preparing for the exam, I found a lot of contradictory answers in forums. Some people thought the practice tests were easier than the real exam. But others thought they were more difficult. I can only tell you about my experience.
My Practice Test Results
I took four different sets of practice tests to prepare for the exam.
- Neal Davis - learn.digitalcloud.training
- Jon Bonso
- AWS Solutions Architect Associate app by Magic Bytes Soft (available in the Google Play Store)
To prepare for the exam, you should buy all of them. Combined, all should cost around $50. I can't speak for everyone who has taken the test, since the questions are random, but I thought the actual exam was easier. I don't have scores for Jon Bonso or the app, but I can show you how some of my practice scores compared to my score on the actual exam.
The score for Exam 1 on learn.digitalcloud.training didn't record, but here are the other scores (all scores have been rounded up or down).
- Exam 2 - 77%
- Exam 3 - 83%
- Exam 4 - 81%
- Exam 5 - 77%
- Exam 6 - 92%
That averages out to 82%. My score on the actual exam was 92.6%.
Here are my WhizLab scores:
- Exam 1 - 83%
- Exam 2 - 86%
- Exam 3 - 83%
- Exam 4 - 88%
- Exam 5 - 78%
- Exam 6 - 83%
That averages out to 83.5%. For me, I scored 9-10% more on the real exam than I did on the practice tests. Again, that may not be everyone's experience, but I hope this will give you some idea of when you will be ready to take the exam.
For anyone wondering about the acloudguru tests at the end of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associates course on Udemy, I didn't do too great on those. I don't recall my exact scores, but I think they were low 70's. Those tests seemed difficult to me and didn't seem to be all that similar to the exam. It's worth it to take them though, because the more you test yourself, the more likely it is that you'll walk into the exam with the knowledge you need to pass the first time.
Official Practice Options
AWS provides both a free practice test and a paid practice test that can give you an idea of how well you will do when you take the test. The practice exam (SAA-P01) costs $20 (I assume the new 2020 test will be SAA-P02). Unlike the actual exam which you will take at a testing center or monitored at home, you can take the SAA-P01 at home unmonitored. It's a shorter version of the real test and like the real test, it's timed.
Free training is available at aws.training/LearningLibrary. They have a two hour course called 'Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (Digital).' I thought the questions in this course were quite a bit harder than what I encountered on the test, but since it's free, it doesn't hurt to take it.
If You Aren't Doing Well on the Practice Tests...
I was ready to take the test when my scores averaged out to the low 80's. Once again, in my personal experience, that was enough to pass with a high score. If your first few scores are only in the 60's or 70's, don't keep taking practice tests because there aren't too many out there that are high quality.
First check out DolfinEd on Udemy. His course is long, approximately 86 hours, but it will give you almost all the theoretical knowledge you will need to pass the test. And he continually updates it. Neal Davis's AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Training Notes 2020 cheat sheet is another very useful resource because it touches on most of the topics that will be covered in the exam. Although, it won't give you the depth of knowledge the DolfinEd course will give. Once you have finished that course, go back to the practice tests and see how you do. You should see a vast improvement in your scores.
Free Practice Test
Ahmed Sayed on August 22, 2020:
Thanks sharing your experience, The scores part is absolutely useful.