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March 9, 2018

AWS CSAA Exam Tips

The Exam Preparation

  • First and foremost. The journey is more important than the result. When you cherish your journey, you can rise up to any situation. If not for this, you are purely relying on luck that only makes you fragile. Grow your strength. Do your round of preparation to digest the concepts. 
  • Begin right with note-taking. Prepare your own notes. Trust me, it helps! You can compare it later with others to fill gaps if any. This is in many a sense going beyond the exam preparation and helps facing the real world situations like job-interviews, solution-consulting, problem-solving at work. Ask how? Because it helps you internalize the concepts.
  • Practice more and more mock tests. Don't skip it, ever. It pays to tone your mind for the exam nitty-gritties. Knowledge is one thing, warming-up your mind to be alert for exam-tricks are yet another thing. Also, mock-tests help plug your gaps in the grey-areas.
  • Specifically, look out for those mock tests that helps you familiarize with the test's UI. Familiarity is part of the preparation to boost your confidence. 
  • Do take mock-tests but be sure if the answers provided by them are right. There are many mock-tests that come with wrong answers. So, after every test, do your homework for the correctness of your answers.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Eat good deal of fruits (not the stupid nutrient tablets).
  • Eat less or just enough to stay fit. Don't over eat, it only sickens you.
  • Topics Check-List to know what is in/out for CSAA pre-Feb-2018 exam: 
    • IAM - Identity Access Management
    • KMS - Key Management Service
    • WAF - Web Application Firewall
    • VPC - Virtual Private Cloud
    • Route 53
    • Internet-Gateway
    • Egress-only Internet Gateway
    • Subnet
    • Route Table
    • NACL - Network ACL
    • Security Group
    • VPC Flow Logs
    • Bastion Hosts
    • ENI - Elastic Network Interface
    • Elastic IP
    • IP Addressing - CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing)
    • NAT Gateway
    • NAT Instance
    • VPN Connection
    • Direct Connect
    • VPC Peering
    • VPC Endpoints
    • VPC Endpoint Services
    • EC2 - Elastic Cloud Compute
    • AMI - Amazon Machine Image
    • Placement Group
    • EC2 Auto-Scaling
    • AWS Lambda
    • CloudWatch
    • Cloud Formation
    • S3
    • EFS
    • EBS
    • Storage Gateway
    • Snowball
    • CloudFront
    • API Gateway
    • ELB (mostly Classic, and sometimes Application load balancer). Network Load Balancer is not yet included as yet AFAIK. Good to know about it though ;)
    • RDS - Relational DB Services
    • DynamoDB
    • Redshift
    • Elasticache
    • Kinesis
    • SQS - Simple Queue Service
    • SNS - Simple Notification Service
    • SES - Simple Email Service
    • SWF - Simple WorkFlow service
    • Elastic Transcoder
    • AWS Marketplace conceptually
    • AWS CLI conceptually
    • AWS SDK conceptually
    • ECS - Elastic Container Service
    • Elastic Beanstalk
  • For each of the above topics in the check-list read the FAQs, and User Guide for better understanding.
  • Pick any of the online course for the exam out there in the market. It helps filling the gaps in your understanding. Now which online-course should you pick? It's purely your personal preference.
  • There are some topics that form the bed-rock of cloud operations like VPC and its components, the EC2, ELB, NAT Gateway, RDS. etc. You should get dirty with these topics hands-on and you should never ever skip that if you want your learning to stick. Go do it on the AWS Cloud to have an appreciation of how much you can do in AWS cloud and how well Amazon has done that to help you take control if required. Don't ever miss this. If you don't have experience, take a course that runs you through the steps is a definitive help.

Before The Exam

  • Sleep well the night before your exam.
  • Got your ID cards for proofs at exam-center. In my case they asked for 2 of them.
  • Be there at the center half hour before the scheduled time. You never know, they may take more time than you can imagine to set things up for you in allotting a seat. In my case they took over 20 minutes for the formalities that I can't fathom why it would take them more than 2 minutes. So be early, for it helps you to relax and stay warm!

During the Exam

  • There is no negative score. So make it a point to attempt all questions.
  • Make it a point to mark questions for review, if you're not sure of your answers or have not answered it.
  • If you can't decided on the answers, mark the question for review and move on. The clock is ticking. Don't just sit staring at the question.
  • If multi-choice, is the question suggesting the number of right choices to make. If yes, keep tab of it.
  • It pays to rule out the wrong options from the answers. That is how you minimize your mistake possibilities. This is especially useful in questions that ask you to choose N valid statements.
  • It pays to read and interpret the questions right. Don't miss taking into consideration the NOT, CANNOTs, actual question etc. before choosing your answer options.
  • When in doubt, go back to the question, to get the missed-out context.
  • Do review all the questions you marked for review, if possible.

After the Exam

  • Celebrate the milestone achievement.
  • Make sure your learning doesn't end here but gives you good guidance for your next steps.

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