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March 7, 2018

Experience Report - AWS Certified Solution Architect Associate Exam

I cleared CSAA (Pre 2018 release / old pattern) exam​​ with 91%.

I don't give much importance to certifications and more so to percentages. In spite of that there is always this tizzy when one takes an exam. I both love and hate this at the same time :-/

Lessons from the Exam Day

If what happened to me could happen to you, be prepared to stay calm. I was a little disturbed and angry, but guess got back to focusing on the exam quickly. So what happened?

  • The folks at exam center took more than 15 minutes to allocate a seat for me to take the exam. Be there early and be calm even if the time breaches the scheduled exam-time. It doesn't affect your allotted exam time. It might still irritate you, but stay calm!
  • I was given a scribble pad and white-board marker. I asked for a cloth to clean the scribble-pad and they apologized to not have one. The market didn't have much ink either. Pain!
  • The entire process started with my submitting 2 id-proofs. I asked for it after sitting at my allotted exam seat. And the person concerned said he will give it to me in some time during my exam. Wierd! Personally, I'm not comfortable giving off my id-cards to a stranger and forget about it. But then the clock is ticking...I decided to play by his rule.
  • In about 5 minutes of my starting the exam, the internet connection was down at my exam center. I was kind of shocked to see plain white screen with message saying something like "your internet connection is disconnected". I called the exam center in-charge and he apologized. Asked me to wait for some time, until they fix the issue. After about 10-15 minutes he softly said not to worry and that I can resume the exam without any time loss. Frankly, I didn't know how to react but felt really disturbed. Sat in front of the computer for about a minute before I clicked that "Start" button again. Not a kind of thing that happens often, I guess. But in case it happens to you, just stay calm. Think you are in a DR simulation environment :P

CSAA Exam Observations

  • Questions were geared towards concepts application rather than data vomit. I didn't have single question that asked me specific number like "what is Max/Min duration of say Visibility Timeout?". It excites me to read questions that tests conceptual application.
  • I'm not able to recollect seeing any question on ALB. Where they mention ELB, they explicitly state that it is CLB. I was surprised to see that. It helps the exam taker instead of 2nd guessing. Question on NLB wasn't there for sure in my sitting at least.
  • 80 minutes for 55 questions is more than sufficient, if you are well prepared and have taken some mocks earlier.
  • The UI sucks and it takes some time to get familiar​.
  • The answer button is disabled until you have chosen the required number of answer options. And when you select more than the required number of answers, the UI is silent. Gotcha!
  • There were quite a few questions on ECS, API Gateways, EFS and Lambda functions. I was surprised and a little unprepared. I only had theoretical knowledge in these areas and thats a shame!