Solutions Architect Associate Journey

AWS Solutions Architect Associate C02

I gave my AWS-SAA Certification on February 12, 2021, & cleared it in the very first attempt!

AWS Badge: Link

LinkedIn post: Link

AWS Solutions Architect – Associate SAA-C02 exam is the latest AWS exam that has replaced the previous SAA-C01 certification exam. It basically validates the ability to effectively demonstrate knowledge of how to architect and deploy secure and robust applications on AWS technologies.

  • SAA-C02 exam consists of 65 questions in 130 minutes , and the time is more than sufficient if you are well prepared.
  • SAA-C02 Exam covers the architecture aspects in deep, so you must be able to visualize the architecture, even draw them out in the exam just to understand how it would work and how different services relate.
  • AWS has updated the exam concepts from the focus being on individual services to more building of scalable, highly available, cost-effective, performant, resilient.

Initially working with EC2, S3 seemed fun and easy. Then the usual thing happened.


I started architecting on AWS for some mini projects back in Aug/Sept of 2020.

Scoot: I tried

Certification Difficulty Level: Intermediate - Advanced

How much time I invested? ON/OFF 4 months hands-on (overall 6 months)

My Strategy

  1. I purchased the Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate by Stephane Maarek, whom many consider the GOD of teaching AWS
  2. I had my Semester exams due in December to January 2020, so I did the course at night, almost daily for 2 hours.
  3. I completed 50% of the curriculum in the first 45 days or so. Then came the Semester exams and there was a brief gap of about a month.
  4. After a rigorous revision of 80% of the course in the later half of Jan 2020, I decided to just book the slot as I was confident with my preparation.
  5. Gave the practice test included with the course and the score was around 80%!
  6. The next 30 days ( mid Jan - Feb 10), I completed the course and did long hands-on sessions.
  7. I skimmed the AWS FAQs, read the official documentation of all the services. Following best practices in architecting was my focus.
  8. Solved random questions from the internet 1 week before the exam. Tutorialsdojo Cheat Sheet was helpful too! Play Store apps on AWS-SAA which had surprisingly well curated questions too.
  9. VPC was a pain in the ass till the end. However.. this awesome BLOG had my head straight.
  10. Read some whitepapers, also attended AWS re:Invent, which gave downright real world knowledge & how companies are incorporating AWS in their architecture.
  11. I attempted all the easy questions first, and just marked the difficult ones & the multi-correct ones for later. This helped me skim all the questions thrice! and gave me more time with the sections I was not comfortable with (VPC for egs)

The exam literally came up with fake AWS services to make us fall for them!

The 5 Pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework were the main testing areas

  1. Operational Excellence
  2. Security
  3. Reliability
  4. Performance Efficiency
  5. Cost Optimization

The question asked were definitely challenging and made me think from the point of a Cloud Architect. How would I incorporate the services to build a robust solution, making it cost effective, highly available and secure?

In almost all questions, all the options were correct, but only 1 stood out to be the most effective one, and choosing that, required expertise and clarity of how and what the client needs.

Providing the best solution out of all the possible ones, is what makes one a great AWS Certified Solutions Architect.