Study Guide October 19, 2019

How I Passed the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner 2019 Exam

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On October 18, 2019, I passed AWS’ Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam and became certified as a Cloud Practitioner. 

I procrastinated and “lazy studied” for 2 months but I believe if you’re focused, you can knock this out in 1-4 weeks. 

I had n00b cloud experience with AWS. I was familiar with using Amazon S3 to upload files, make them public, and use the links in email campaigns. 

If you have no experience with AWS or cloud platforms, you’ll be fine! Make sure to STUDY the white papers!

Anyway, I’m going to tell you how I would study for this exam (improved from what I did), give you a study plan, and the resources I recommend you use.

Decide You’re Going To Take This Exam And Pass

  • I didn’t get serious about studying until I decided I was going to take this exam and pass it.
  • Throughout studying, especially as I got closer to my exam date, I had a bunch of fearful thoughts like, “I’m too old to remember this stuff!” and “I’m going to feel so stupid if I don’t pass this!”
  • I just kept reminding myself that I’m taking it and I am going to pass because I am putting in the work to pass (and I did)!

Schedule Your Exam Date For 4 Weeks From Today ($100)

  • Click here to schedule your exam.
  • The reason it took me so long to get this cert was because I wasn’t committed.
  • Once I booked an exam date and shared it on Twitter, motivation and focused kicked in! It became real.
  • Schedule your exam date for 4-5 weeks from today.
    • It costs $100. You can reschedule for free (up to 24 hours before your exam date and time).
    • I took my test online but if you’re a parent with kids at home, I recommend going into the testing center or having someone take the kids out for 2 hours. 
    • You cannot have anyone in the room with you while you’re testing. 
  • Purchase the practice test from AWS. It’s $20 and looks exactly like the exam (different questions). 

Put Together Your Study Plan

    • Schedule at least 1 hour a day, 6 days per week to study. Put it in your calendar as a recurring event. Write in your planner every day. Add it to Asana as a recurring daily task.
    • Parents: I was most productive when I left the house to study. If that’s not an option, wake up early and get it done while you’re fresh. I’m not productive when I study at night, too tired.
    • 30-60 minutes before studying, I would take two Gorilla Mind “Rush” supplements and have a cup of coffee. The supplements help me with focus, motivation, energy, and retention. If you’d like to try them for yourself, you can use my affiliate link to buy them here.
      • Important: Please start with 1-2 per day & check with your physician before taking any type of supplement!
    • I loved going to Starbucks, putting in my earphones, turning on Brain.fm (Focus > Study & Read > 30 minutes). I’d stand up and stretch, eat a bit, between 30 min sessions. I’d usually stay for 2 hours.
    • Sample study plan (click here for your own template):
      • Week #1-2: Read the recommended AWS white papers. Take detailed notes. I used a pink highlighter to highlight service names and a yellow highlighter to highlight other things I felt were important. Anything I highlighted was turned into notes I typed up. Read through your notes daily!
      • Week #2-3: Complete ACloudGuru’s Cloud Certified Cloud Practitioner Course.
      • Week #3-4: Take practice tests and continue reading your notes daily! I shot for an 85% pass rate before feeling confident for the exam.
      • Testing Day: Take 1 practice test (I did the free one on WhizLabs) and read your notes again (about 2 hours before exam). Take your supplements, have some coffee, eat a good breakfast, and get ready!
      • Reading and reviewing your notes daily means you don’t have to cram and stress days before the exam. 

Book A Consult Call With Keheira ($100)

  • I would not have passed without booking this call with Keheira. She walked me through everything, answered questions & concerns I had, and offered invaluable advice.
  • It was absolutely worth paying for a mentor who had already passed and who steered me in the right direction so I wasn’t wasting my time. I can’t sing her praises high enough or thank her enough for her help!
  • Also, she helped me map out some career and business paths and what other certs and steps to take after I passed. She helped me figure out and put together my game plan. No point in having a cert if you’re not going to put it to use.

Read & Take Detailed Notes On The AWS White Papers ($20)

  • The $20 is what it cost me to have the white papers printed.
  • Reading the white papers is the most important thing you need to do to pass, in my opinion (if you’re brand new to AWS)! You cannot skip this step.
  • Also, read the white papers before you take the ACloudGuru course! I would have understood and retained what I was watching so much better if I had read the white papers first, due to my beginner experience level.
  • These are the white papers to read, recommended by AWS:

  • Print them out! They’re long! To break it up, I did the following:

    • Calculated the total # of pages for ALL white papers
    • Divided that number 7 days (do 7 or 14, however long you want to give yourself)
    • That was the # of pages I knew I had to read and take notes on per day
    • Example: 300 pages divided by 14 days = about 22 pages to read & take notes on per day
  • Here’s my template for taking notes.
    • The doc includes a video I put together on how to setup for yourself and my thought process for setting them up the way I did. I like Google Docs because I could pull them up on my phone. Once I was finished taking notes, I printed them out and read the physical copy daily.

Complete ACloudGuru’s Certified Cloud Practitioner Course (Free Trial + $29/month)

  • I tried going through AWS’ free training material but, unfortunately, I felt it was boring. I stopped studying for 2 weeks because I was discouraged by the content but Keheira recommended ACloudGuru and I got right back on track. I would watch on 1.5x-2x speed and TAKE NOTES & ready your notes daily!
  • I was going to recommend watching the lesson videos on 2x speed without taking notes, and then watch the summary videos on normal speed and take notes on just the summary. However, after taking the exam, I recommend you slow down and take notes on all the videos, summaries, and quizzes.
  • For the quizzes, I copied the questions and all the answer choices. I then bolded the correct answer. I also included an explanation for the answer, if it was provided. The explanations were super helpful when it came time to take the exam because although the questions/answers weren’t the same, the reasoning came in handy!

Read This AWS Wiki

  • I found this wiki the night before my exam. I was suspicious of it but the material helped a lot with the actual exam.
  • I took notes based upon the AWS exam guide from this wiki. My study template goes over it.
  • This was useful for service reasoning (which/why would you use this service) and architecture.

Take Practice Tests

  • I took ACloudGuru’s Exam Simulator after I completed the course lessons. I added all the questions, answer choices, correct answers, and explanations to my notes.
  • Review the AWS sample questions & add the questions, answer choices, and correct answers to your notes.
  • A few days before the exam, I took the paid AWS practice test.
  • WhizLabs has a free and 3 paid practice tests. I took the free one right before my exam and then I had planned on buying the paid ones in case I didn’t pass.

Take Your Exam (Online @ Home)

  • I don’t know the process for going into a testing center. You’ll have to talk to Keheira about that.
  • Parents: hire someone to watch your kid and get them out of the house for 2 hours OR hire someone to watch your kid and go into the testing center. Silas had the biggest tantrum of his toddler career the entire time I tested. It was distracting and frustrating!
  • I took two Gorilla Mind “Rush” supplements a few hours before the exam began
  • Login 30-45 minutes prior to your start time. You’ll need to download software beforehand and complete several steps to verify your identity.
  • Then you take your exam! 

After the Exam

  • If you passed, let me know on Twitter! Tag me @WhutTheHale and #BlackTechTwitter #BlackTechPipeline so we can congratulate you!
  • Also, make sure to updated your LinkedIn, website, Twitter bio, etc.
  • If you didn’t pass, it’s okay! Take a week off and begin again. I’d start with a paid practice test so you can assess what areas you need to improve and study up on.
  • No matter the outcome, celebrate! You worked hard, you were consistent, and you completed your goal of taking the exam! That counts and matters!
Sometimes folks ask how they can buy me coffee as a thank you for putting this information & templates together. Outside of taking action, I appreciate the gesture and here’s how you can spread the love:

4 Comments

  • Reply Shana Burris October 19, 2019 at 3:14 AM

    This was so thorough and palatable. It’s jaw dropping how masterfully you can take a complicated subject and break it down to its base form.

    I learned so much from reading this and following your note taking process. That section alone opened my eyes to how I can more effectively read and study as a whole. Thank you for taking the time, care and consideration to bless us with this roadmap.

    You are truly a gift. I honestly appreciate your authenticity and your passion for helping educate others. I wish I had more to give, but for now I will do my best to take action. Thank you, Ari.

    • Reply Arielle "Ari" Hale October 20, 2019 at 7:53 PM

      Thank you so much, Shana! I hope this helps and good luck on your studies!

  • Reply Advice on Transitioning Into a Tech Career - Learn with Ari October 22, 2019 at 6:27 AM

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