Is AWS Solutions Architect hard?

Table of Contents

Many people have always asked this question, but answering this kind of question is always not solid or so specific since it depends on who you will ask! Or, are you looking for a textbook answer that will nearly work for all? If so, here comes the answer.
To determine the exam difficulty, you always have to involve an element of subjective opinion. One answer that you should be sure of is that the exams will always increase in difficulty as you move upwards through the AWS certification hierarchy. You will notice that the Cloud practitioner is considered to be the easiest and the professional exams to be the most difficult.
This article is majorly written after extensive research on the whole host of forum posts, AWS faqs and even feedback from those who have sat these exams. So, are you interested in knowing about the AWS certification exams and how to pass them? If so, then continue reading.

Click this affiliate link to register for Machine Learning Using Python Training.

Is AWS Solutions Architect hard

10 Reasons why AWS Solutions Architect is hard

Some of the reasons why AWS Solutions Architect is hard are not limited to:

• Previous investigation has revealed that it is hard

• Many people who have done this exam have considered it hard

• Many people who sit this exam usually fail

• Many people dedicate more hours of study to pass this exam

• Many people engage in consultations and research on how to pass

• It’s one of the most difficult certifications offered by AWS

• There are several guided study step articles that have been written about this certification

• There are several discussion on online platforms regarding this course

• This certification requires a given number of years of experience

• This certification requires one to must have completed the previous lower levels

10 Reasons why AWS Solutions Architect is not hard

These reasons include:

• People are not equal

• Some people find it easy

• Many people have completed it

• Some study reveals that it’s easy

• Some people study it part-time

• Other people dedicate a few hours of study

• Some people have no basic knowledge and still pass

• Others claim that it’s easy in online forums

• This is just an exam like any other

• This exam comes aboard with choices to choose from

Click this affiliate link to register for Machine Learning Using Python Training.

Not all AWS exams are created equal

If you are keen enough, you will notice that this was earlier said in the intro, right? But there is still a need to go through it again to clarify much about it. The higher you climb the ladder, the more you will find the AWS certification exams to be more challenging. This is not said to drive fear into you or even threaten you, but it should make you begin thinking about strategies that you can put in place to make you achieve your desired certification for the first time.

As we speak, AWS provides 7 regular and 3 specialty certifications. Obviously, you will have to take the regular courses first before you proceed to the specialty ones. Here, you should be much aware that the regular certifications are divided into 3 distinct learning paths keeping in mind what skills of AWS feel is more likely to be of importance to a given job role. For instance, our main area of focus here is Architect though there are several other roles such as Developer, Engineer and System Administrator.

So, which is the easiest AWS exam that you will most enjoy doing?

Which is the easiest AWS certification?

Again, did you notice that we had already mentioned the easiest AWS exam before? Well, the Cloud Practitioner exam will always give you the foundational understanding of the AWS services. Here, you are most likely to answer questions touching on the shared responsibility model, amazon’s pricing plans, support plans and even the simple situation questions on what AWS product will perfectly fit a given situation.

Although amazon does recommend at least 6 months of experience, many have considered this not be absolutely necessary. Do you have any understanding of any other cloud providers’ solutions? This can be Azure or even if you earlier had a development or even testing background. If so, you can just proceed by simply picking up some online learning materials from either amazon or even a third party and you will definitely pass this exam. So, is your main goal to quickly find AWS certification? If so, then this is the right exam for you!

Well, it would be better if you know how much the whole of this will cost you, right? Okay, the exam alone will cost close to $150 dollars and an additional $20 dollars for an online course and even a $20 mock exam. This is more likely to add up to $190.

The most popular AWS exams you need to take?

Without thinking twice or doubting, the architect associate and the Developer associate are some of the most popular AWS exams that people always take. One of the most likely reasons why many people decide to take them is that they do not need prerequisites. Thus, you can sign for these exams straight away! Are you thinking of doing so is a good or a bad idea? We will look deep into that deeply later.

The main reason why these exams are more likely to be done with many people is that the students always view them as presenting enough difficulty to warrant a massive amount and they even have a given level of prestige that is attached to them. Again, you will notice that many people taking these certifications mainly came from a developer or even architect background and again, the pools of people are usually larger than the dev ops. You will realize that many are after the titles’ developer’ and ‘architect’ in the name of the exam.

You should also be aware that the learning time for these exams is about 6 months if you are in part-time study. This will go down if you have some level of knowledge of AWS.

When looking at the cost of the exam alone, you will spend around $150 dollars and also $20 dollars for an online course and $20 dollars for mock exams. This will sum up to about $190.

Click this affiliate link to register for Machine Learning Using Python Training.

Is Architect certification among the hardest AWS certifications?

Again here, this question is also very hard to answer. This is not only because it’s based on a number of factors that are not limited to how hard one studies. And without doubt, any exam that one takes without adequate preparation is always not likely to end well.

Well, there are many individuals who had taken their time to evaluate these exams and here is what exactly they had to say:

· Solutions Architect Associate – Medium

· Developer Associate – Medium

· SyOp Administrator Associate – Little Hard

· Solution Architect Professional – Hard

· DevOp Engineer Professional – Very Tough

Well, the above evaluation was made by Krishna Srinivasan, CEO of Whizlabs and if you again compare this evaluation with that of Ryan Kroonenburg, the founder of aCloudGuru, you will find that they both pointed out that the SysOps certification was the most difficult of the 3 options offered by the AWS.

For you to be able to pass the DevOp Engineer Professional, you will need some level of effort and it’s always advisable that you not only pass the prerequisite SysOp Administrator Associate and even the architect professional before you proceed to take any of them.

 When talking about the money that you are likely to spend, there are slight differences from any of these exams. So, you will more likely spend about $150 dollars for the exam and an additional $20 for online materials and also $20 dollars for the mock exam. These will add up to about $190.

How about the study time? You need to maximize your study time too much and also it’s advisable that you pass several other certifications and also have at least one year of experience in the professional use of AWS.

7 Steps to Passing the Exam: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exams Strategies

Well, if you feel that the AWS certified solutions Architect exam is very difficult and you are worried, you are not all alone! In this guide, we are going to discuss some of the tips that can help you pass these exams with some level of comfort. Here we go!

1.    Earn the AWS Certified Practitioner Certification

Well, this guide is mainly to help you pass your Architect exams, but if you do not have any prior experience on AS engineering experience or knowledge, you should consider passing the AWS certified practitioner exam. This exam is considered the easiest and with less effort of reading daily; you will be ready to do this exam in just two weeks.

Do you have any prior knowledge of AWS services? If yes, you still need to do this exam because it covers some of the AWS services that you may have never used. To pass this exam in two weeks, you need to do the following:

· Take the A Cloud Guru (ACG) Certified Cloud Practitioner course. All that is needed here is a full subscription and not just the standalone Udemy version. This is because you will have to use the ACG heavily for the AWS Solutions Architect exam. Again, you need to check the ACG section on AWS labs that are also important for passing exams.

· Ensure you take these practice exams. You need to know that the practice exams represent only some of the most difficult questions in the exam. If you are putting more effort into the practice exams and you are near passing, then you should also pass the exams themselves. You will realize that the actual exam is easier than the practice exams.

Tips for passing:

· For you to pass, you need to take notes throughout the course and even organize them to allow you to use them as a part of your study guide for the Architect exam.

· Another very important part is to re-watch Ryan’s summaries on the day of your exams at a 2x speed. This will enable you to recap all that you know.


2.    Complete ACG’s AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Course

Are you a newbie? If so, all you should know is that this exam alone isn’t enough to make you pass, but it’s still an important course that will be a foundation for your exam preparation. This exam covers everything on the test.

Tips for the course:

· Make detailed notes and create an organized study guide.

· With the help of the A Cloud Guru app, download the lectures offline listening. After that, you need to play these lectures and summaries over again while doing your normal activities such as driving or even walking with your dog. Many peoples’ preparations for exams usually involve a lot of immersion of these kinds.

· Ensure you do not skip the hands-on labs. Using AWS is the best way one can learn the same AWS. This will let the lectures sink deeply in you and you will internalize the content.


3.    Deep Dives on Specific AWS Services

As earlier mentioned above, the ACG course lectures alone aren’t enough for many people to pass. There are other services that will enable you to deeply understand the content, thus making you easily pass your exam. One of the best ways to do that is to use hands-on labs.

Here are some of the areas that you need to major on:


Are you struggling with the overall understanding of the VPC? Well, many people are always stranded here and if so, all you need to do is to read Cole Morrison’s article, and its analogies will help you immensely. You can also do these if you are stranded:

· Finish the ACG Hands-On Labs for VPCs. You will find these outside of the course from step 2 in the Hands-Lab section. All you need to do is to filter on ‘AWS’ and also ‘VPC’ and finish each lab. You will notice that they will not take much of your time but they are relatively helpful.

· The exam usually comes fully packed with VPC questions. This should make you strive to build one from memory.

· You should be able to understand the differences between using the VPN and a Direct Connect.


Here, you need to take parts of the A Cloud Guru S3 Masterclass course. Wait, you do not have to take the whole course for this exam but you should take just a few areas that do come often. These areas are not limited to:

· Bucket policies vs. access control lists

· S3 encryption options

· Storage types

· Lifecycle policies


Study the ACG Introduction to RDS course and mainly focus on areas that do often come such as:

· Multi-AZ Replication

· Read Replicas

· Understand snapshots


You should ensure that you understand the AWS Analytics and data warehousing tools at a very high level:

· Kinesis: Streams vs. Firehose vs. Analytics

· Kinesis vs. Redshift vs. EMR (be assured that you will find situation based questions having these.

· Athena’s differences from Kinesis


Here, all you need to do is to take the ACG Introduction to Lambda course, and you should only focus on:

· Limits/timeouts

· Events and some of the services that are commonly used with Lambda triggers

You need to keep in mind that serverless will always show up several times on AWS exams over time, so you need to know much about it.


4.    Read the AWS Storage Services Overview Whitepaper

In the exam, you will get several situation based questions asking about what kind of storage to use. You should be in a position to know the differences between them and when exactly you need to use each one of them, such as EFS vs. EBS, DynamoDB vs. RDS)


5.    Learn the Test-taking Strategies for This Exam

When you stumble upon situation based questions, you need to first read the kicker. You will also notice that situation based questions usually start with a long paragraph, and then they are preceded by a kicker that will actually ask you the question. So, you should read the kicker and then proceed by reading the situation. For instance:

“You are creating a transcription service for a company in which a fleet of EC2 worker instances processes an uploaded audio file and then provides a text file as an output. You should store both of these frequently accessed files in the same durable storage until the text is retrieved by the uploader. Due to an expected increase in demand, you have to make sure that the storage is leveled and can be retrieved within minutes.

“Which storage option in AWS can you choose to work within this situation to help you save on cost and are also scalable?”

Where is the kicker in the above question? Well, as earlier said, the kicker in our case is the last line. All you need to do is to pay attention to what they are asking. In most cases, they will always give you multiple solutions that will always work, but you have to ensure that you are selecting the right ones that match the requirements. (In our case, you need to major in those that are cost-efficient and scalable.

Use processes of elimination for every question. Here, you will notice that questions will always have one or two options that are wrong. If you have the ability to filter out the answers that are literally wrong, then your chances of selecting the right will improve. This may appear to be very natural, but you always need to use this kind of method because it will help you in the AWS SA exam. They will always try to trick. All you should do in this case is to find the obvious tricks and mentally stash them out.

Read questions twice. Do you know that most of these questions are always designed to appear tricky? Please do not just read the questions and then just answer the questions immediately. One slight nuance in the wording can always alter the right answer, and if you choose to go so fast, you may get most of the questions wrong.

Use the” Mark for Review” feature.  The real exam always lets you mark answers and then review and then later go back later and then check them again. Each time you will come across a difficult question, all you should do is to choose the best choice and then mark it for a review later at the end, and this is determined by the time that is remaining for you to complete the exams. It’s advisable that you use this feature.

Use questions to answer other questions on the real exam. This is one of the major reasons you need to use the “Mark for Review.” In most cases, one question can help you in giving you the answer to another question. If you are keen enough, you will notice that a few times when doing an exam, you will go back and adjust your previous answers.

6.    Take Udemy Practice Exams

Here, you need to buy this set of Udemy practice exams and try working on them. All you should be aware of is that the practice exams are always incredibly difficult and even represent some of the most challenging questions that you are more likely to be asked during the exam. You will realize that the test is always more difficult than the exam itself.

Do you know about the rule of the thumb? Well, if you are passing these practice exams, you should have great hopes of passing the real exams.

7.    Optional: Take this Udemy course to fill in the gaps

Are you finding that there are still some gaps in your knowledge and you feel that you can’t pass the practice exams? All you need to do is to buy this course. You should not take your time to go through the entire course but only focus on the areas where you feel that you have some knowledge gaps. When you decide to do these practice exams, you will understand where you have the knowledge gaps.

Again, Udemy courses also have a very cool feature where you are able to simply search for a keyword, and it will show you in all places in the entire course that this word is mentioned, where you can choose to click and listen to the whole portion of that given word. For instance, if you keep missing questions based on the AWS KMS, you could just search that in the Udemy course, and it will show you every section where I was discussed.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Exam Prep: Practice Makes Perfect

Just like any test, studying will always ensure success. And also, AWS Certified Solutions are no exception for any other tests. Preparation will always take some of your time, and even you will have to sacrifice some of your free time, but the benefits are worth all that. Besides validating your technical skills, you will always use this certification to foster your expertise.


AWS Solutions Architect is considered to be medium, but there are several factors that determine this. All you need to do is to ensure that you are studying daily and you will make it through. Good luck!

Click this affiliate link to register for Machine Learning Using Python Training.

Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.