Pass the AWS DevOps certification on Your first attempt

AWS DevOps Path
AWS DevOps Certification Path
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How to prepare for the AWS DevOps Test

I passed the DevOps Professional Certification exam on my first attempt. When I prepared for the exam, I had no prior knowledge of the AWS Cloud at all. In this post, I will explain how I prepare for the DevOps Professional Exam and got certified, what process and resources I used to successfully pass the exam without having any prior experience with AWS. I hope this information is useful in helping you pass your AWS Exam in your first attempt.

If you have already been working on an AWS Environmentcreating AWS Resources and Services, you might find it even easier to pass the exam. I still think you might find the information below very resourceful to how best prepare for the official AWS DevOps Professional Exam and become a Certified DevOps Engineer Professional. 

DevOps Definition

The Wikipedia pages defined it as a set of practices that combines software development and IT operations. It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality. 

Benefits of obtaining a DevOps Certification

The DevOps Engineer Professional Certification is one of the most highly desirable certifications by a large number of employers. To understand why you have to think from the employer’s perspective. DevOps has proven to be much more efficient regarding delivering value to the end-users. DevOps concepts and best practices are still very recent, a movement away from the waterfall process available for many decades. As a result, many senior and new engineers do not have real work experience in this area. This subject is still not entirely taught in Universities, so recent college graduates do not have the technical background in this area. Hence, the popularity of DevOps Certifications. It gives both the recently graduated and senior engineers the opportunity to learn and apply these newly developed and beneficial concepts to deploy and deliver value to the end-users rapidly. 

While certifications are no substitute for real work experience, they do provide an excellent foundation to start. Through certifications, you can understand the best process and practices that are to be implemented in real projects. At the same, there is no substitute for real work experience in real projects. A highly paid AWS DevOps Engineer Professional should have both the certification to prove his education background in the subject matter and work experience.

The primary motivation to get a BS from an established and reputable university is to prove that you understand the process and methodologies you are ultimately hired to implement. 

In essence, a DevOps Certification allows you to prove that you have engaged in the learning and studying of the new DevOps Practices and that you have specialized in the most highly demanded subject. 

When you are both an experienced and a AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional, the job interview is a breeze, and it puts you in a much better position to negotiate an attractive or higher DevOps Engineer Compensation. 

Granted, we all have to start somewhere. So, if you have little or no experience, I recommend that you start with the DevOps Certification. That is where I started when I wanted to increase my salary while at the same time, improving my skills and finding more attractive job opportunities. And without a doubt, as soon as I got my AWS Professional Certificate, my job opportunities opened up. The same was true for other coworkers that acquired their AWS Professional Certificate. 

So, how can you get there?

In my experience, passing the exam is a three-fold task

  • Understanding DevOps Concepts and Methodologies
  • Obtaining what I call “Hands-on Keyboard” experience or AWS training (more explained later)
  • Practice with simulated AWS DevOps Tests
AWS DevOps Certification Path
AWS Study Materials

Understanding DevOps Concepts, Methodologies and Best Practices

Study Materials: Online Reference Materials

In terms of study material, you will not have the problem of finding material to study. You will find quite the opposite. There is so much information on the web about this topic that makes it hard to focus on what matters when it comes down to passing the DevOps Certification Test. That was my personal experience while getting ready for this test. 

For example, below, you will find the official links and documentation from AWS regarding the different topics that the exam covers:

Amazon Web Services to Focus On

https://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/technology/trusted-advisor/

https://aws.amazon.com/opsworks/

https://aws.amazon.com/cloudtrail/

https://aws.amazon.com/elasticbeanstalk/

https://aws.amazon.com/ecs/

https://aws.amazon.com/systems-manager/

https://aws.amazon.com/config/

https://aws.amazon.com/codecommit/

https://aws.amazon.com/codedeploy/

https://aws.amazon.com/codepipeline/

https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonCloudWatch/latest/monitoring/AlarmThatSendsEmail.html

https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonCloudWatch/latest/events/WhatIsCloudWatchEvents.html

Amazon Web Services Related White Papers

https://d1.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/aws-development-test-environments.pdf

https://d1.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/DevOps/running-containerized-microservices-on-aws.pdf

https://d1.awsstatic.com/training-and-certification/docs-devops-pro/running-containerized-microservices-on-aws.pdf

https://d1.awsstatic.com/training-and-certification/docs-devops-pro/infrastructure-as-code.pdf

https://d1.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/AWS_DevOps.pdf

https://d1.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/DevOps/Jenkins_on_AWS.pdf

https://d1.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/AWS_Blue_Green_Deployments.pdf

https://d1.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/AWS_Blue_Green_Deployments.pdf

https://d1.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/aws-development-test-environments.pdf

https://d1.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/aws-development-test-environments.pdf

As you go through these AWS resources links, you will find a lot of useful detailed information about the different DevOps topics. Still, at the same time, you might find that there is too much information to get a grasp for, especially since your goal is to pass the Test. 

The links above are an excellent source of references that you always rely on to verify your DevOps knowledge, but I found them a little too overwhelming when it came to focusing on preparing for the DevOps Test. Instead, what helped a lot was to focus on mastering the subject from one specific book, which takes me to the next topic. 

Study Materials: SysOps Book 

As I mentioned earlier, I found the list of AWS resources to be a little overwhelming initially, as I was preparing for the test. Instead, I focus on mastering the subject in this book:

AWS Book Resource: AWS Certified SysOps Administrator

Obviously, from the title, the book is about SysOps and not about DevOps, but there is a lot of overlap between the two topics. The book AWS Certified SysOps Administrator is the official study guide from AWS for the AWS SysOps Administrator Certification Exam. Before passing the DevOps Test, I passed the SysOps Administrator Certification test by studying this book and completing the practice test, which will cover this post shortly. I found them very similar, not to mention that there is no official Study Guide for AWS Exam. 

By focusing on this book, you can schedule, organize, and plan your AWS certification test action plan and focus on the test material. Each chapter has an “Exercise” section that you can complete to understand further the topics (but I have to be honest; I did not do any of the exercises). There is also a “Review Questions” section after each chapter. I focus on the “Review Questions” after reading each chapter. I tested my knowledge by ensuring I could accurately answer each of the review sections’ questions before moving to the next chapter. 

Once I completed reading the book, I began getting my “hands-on keyboard” with the AWS Platform. 

Obtaining Hands-on Keyboard experience

The second fold of passing the AWS Test is getting your “hands-on keyboard” in an AWS Platform. Doing that will help you retain and understand the reading material much more effortless. AWS offers a limited amount of free credits or usage of their services that you can use to provision your own AWS Resources or Services. 

Using your free AWS account, practice provision the following AWS Resources from the AWS management console:

  • VPC 
  • EC2 instance
  • High Availability with AutoScaling
  • Target Groups
  • Subnets – Private, Public in two or three different availability zones
  • Routing Tables – for private and public subnets
  • Load Balancer 

Creating the above resources will help you fully understand the concepts required to pass the Dev Ops engineer professional certification. Make sure you also test their AWS Services such as: 

  • AWS Code Deploy
  • Code Commit
  • Code Pipelines

Once you feel that you understand the concepts and have practiced creating your own Resources and Services, it is time to start preparing for the actual test. 

AWS DevOps Certification Path
DevOps Certification Tests

Practice with simulated Certification Tests

Information about the official DevOps Certification

The AWS DevOps Test is a three-hour test that contains 80 questions. What makes the exam challenging is the number of questions and how the questions are structured. The exam requires you to select the “best” answer, which means that there are multiple “correct” answers, but only one of those is the “best” answer. You will have to select all of the “correct” answers and then start eliminating them as you compare them with each other. Since the test is time for a maximum of three hours, and there are 80 questions, you have about 2.25 minutes to answer each question. Most questions are very lengthy, so most of your time is spent reading the questions and the possible answers. There is not a lot of time for analysis. 

Also, the AWS Certification cost $300.00. If you fail, you can retake it after a certain amount of time, but you will need to pay another $300.00. Failing the test more than twice can be very demoralizing, and you might be so discouraged that you might not want to retake it, so my recommendation is that you prepare upfront as much as possible. 

AWS Certification – Practice Tests

There are several Sample Tests online; some you have to pay for them, some are even for free, but my experience with many of those exams was that they had many inaccurate answers or incomplete exams. I spent a lot of time correcting them or verifying that their solutions were correct by searching for the answers in the AWS Resources pages mentioned above. After finding several incorrect answers, I lost confidence that these tests were adequate test resources. 

Eventually, I ran into Whizlabs. They offer DevOps Practice Tests with an extensive number of DevOps exam questions so I tried them, and I am happy I did. 

Below is the list of features that WhizLabs Practice test includes that made it so much easier for me to prepare for their real exam accurately and efficiently. 

Whizlabs DevOps Practice Test package

  • Includes five different Practice Exams
  • Each test includes 80 questions.
  • For each question, there is an explanation for the correct answer with links to the resources page related to those questions, which means you can easily verify the answer is either right or incorrect.
  • For each question, there is also an explanation as to why the incorrect answers are incorrect. This explanation makes it easier to remember why a wrong answer is faulty, which expedites your understanding and learning.
  • For each Practice Exam, you get the option to be timed, just like you will in the regular Exam, or take it in the practice mode – where you are not timed.
  • You can practice and take their exams as many times as necessary; there is no limit to how many times you can use the exams.  
  • The exam results show you which answers you got correct and incorrect. Knowing this information helps you identify the areas or questions that you might need to spend more time on before taking the actual test.

BTW – WhizLab also have a complete AWS DevOps Certification Course that you can use to further understand the Dev Ops Concepts and best practices before taking the exam.

After practicing and taking all of the five WhizLab Tests and ensuring that I was successfully passing the timed test, I scheduled my test, and I successfully passed it the first time!

I hope this post helps you understand how you can prepare yourself for the AWS Dev Ops Exam and successfully pass the exam

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