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How to pass the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate (SOA-C02) exam.

Hi. Today I will tell you how to prepare for the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate (SOA-C02) exam.

The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification is designed for AWS administrators who want to validate their technical skills. According to Amazon’s guidelines, a person taking the exam should have at least one year of experience with the AWS cloud.

AWS Certifications
AWS Certifications

This exam is recommended for those who want to prepare for another professional level exam: AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional.

I recently earned this certification and can confirm that hands-on experience with the AWS cloud is necessary to pass the certification process. Without this, it will be difficult to pass the practical tasks that need to be completed during the exam.

The exam itself is quite difficult. This is because the experience of working with AWS cloud alone is not enough to pass the exam. In practice, during project work there is no chance to get hands on experience with most of the components that have been made available in the AWS cloud. In my case I work a lot with network environment (VPC, security groups, NACL) and other components used in the project (S3, EC2 or ECR). On the other hand, I’ve never worked with AWS Lambda or AWS Athena. And it’s learning all the components not used in the project that is the biggest challenge.

How much time does it take to prepare for the exam? It largely depends on how much experience you have with AWS and how many components you use in your project. However, I think that preparing for the exam can take even 2-3 months.

The topics required for the exam are related to the following domains:

Domain% of Exam
Domain 1: Monitoring, Logging, and Remediation20%
Domain 2: Reliability and Business Continuity16%
Domain 3: Deployment, Provisioning, and Automation18%
Domain 4: Security and Compliance16%
Domain 5: Networking and Content Delivery18%
Domain 6: Cost and Performance Optimization12%
TOTAL100%

Preparations

1. Stephane Maarek’s course on Udemy

A very good start to your preparation is to watch Stephane Maarek’s course: Ultimate AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate 2022

Ultimate AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate 2022
Ultimate AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate 2022

The course instructor is recognized as one of the best teachers of AWS cloud topics. As part of the training you can see 25 hours of recordings containing presentations of topics required for the exam. In addition to each issue we can find recordings showing how to run, manage or configure individual services in the AWS console. With each of these recordings also appears information, whether the service can be tested under the free AWS account: AWS Free Tier

Apart from the recordings, we have additional quizzes to test our knowledge after each section. At the very end we also have access to a test exam containing 65 questions.

Similarly to other courses on Udemy it is worth to wait for the promotion, which makes the course 83% cheaper than its original price. It is also worth trying to purchase the course from another computer or using the browser in incognito mode.

2. A Cloud Guru Platform Course

The second place to prepare for the exam is A Cloud Guru’s platform. The platform provides many courses. Among them is  AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate.

A Cloud Guru
A Cloud Guru

As in the case of the Udemy course, we have here many hours (over 30 hours not counting the labs) of recordings presenting the topics needed for the exam. What distinguishes these two courses is the fact that on A Cloud Guru we have 19 different practical tasks, which we can perform on specially prepared AWS accounts. This is great preparation material for the practical part of the exam. In addition, we can also run a limited AWS environment (sandbox) where we can practice other services.Additionally, as part of the course we have access to 6 test exams, which contain theoretical questions as well as practical part.

3. Sample questions

The best database of sample questions is provided by Jon Bonso on Udemy: AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate . This is a great study help for the exam.

4. Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate – virtual event

Another resource is the free preparation course available on the website: AWS CERTIFICATION: EXAM READINESS

AWS CERTIFICATION: EXAM READINESS
AWS CERTIFICATION: EXAM READINESS

5. Free sample questions

Amazon also gives you free access to sample questions:

6. AWS Free Tier

Amazon provides the opportunity to create a free AWS cloud account. The free account gives you access to over 100 products on AWS. This is a great tool for testing most of the services you need to know for the exam. Here, however, two things are worth taking into consideration:

  • you must provide a debit or credit card to create the account.
  • the account itself is free but it is possible to create components that you will have to pay for. This is worth paying attention to especially when creating an EC2 instance. Here, only one of these machines (t2.micro) is available, which is for free.

Exam

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate
AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate

 Basic rules of examination:

  • Theoretical and practical test. It consists of 50 questions, single or multiple choice, and 3 practical tasks
  • Examination time is 180 minutes. It is possible to extend the exam by 30 minutes if you do not speak English on a daily basis. In this case, you need to mark an appropriate option during registration.
  • To pass the exam, you need to get about 72% of the answers correct. The scoring itself is dynamic and scaled in relation to the difficulty of the questions. You can find more information about the scoring on the website: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/training-and-certification/demystifying-your-aws-certification-exam-score/
  • Practical tasks give about 20% of the points that can be earned during the exam. It is also worthwhile to complete even a part of the task, as in this case you will receive a portion of the points for each completed section.
  • In the case of questions with multiple answers, it is necessary to mark all the correct answers in order to receive a point.
  • Practical tasks are performed after solving theoretical tasks. Once you get to the practical part of the exam, it is not possible to go back to the theoretical questions.The exam can be taken at home (using the Pearson VUE or PSI platform) or at an examination center. I took the exam online using Pearson Vue.
  • The cost of the exam is $150

Tips

  • Each question can be marked with a special flag. This is helpful in case when you have a problem with any of the questions. In that case, it is best to flag it and come back to it if there is still time. It is also very possible that you will find the answer in another question on the exam.
  • In many cases, all the answers will be very similar. Here it is a good idea to use the elimination method and mark the answer that is left at the end.
  • If there is any time left after you have marked the answers to all the questions, it is worth reviewing them again. You may still be able to find an error.
  • For practice assignments, it’s a good idea to read the directions that appear next to the various options you set in the services. In addition, there are wizards in many places (e.g. for VPC) that make it easy to create individual components.

Summary

As I wrote earlier, this exam is quite challenging. In connection with the practical part of the exam, it is necessary to spend time getting familiar with most of the services available in the AWS platform. However, this time will pay off when you have to work with services that you haven’t come across before. It is also possible that you will learn about new features or available options in services that you already know well.

It is also possible that after passing this exam you will be tempted to take another exam, such as : AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional 🙂

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