AWS Certified Developer Exam

I passed the AWS Certified Developer - Associate exam today which tests your ability to design, develop, and deploy solutions using AWS.

The exam consists of 55 questions in multiple-choice format.  You're given 80 minutes to complete the exam.  It costs $150 and is administered at testing locations across the world.   

The passing score isn't published anywhere and fluctuates based on how other test takers perform on the exam.   Based on reading forums, I suspect the passing score is usually around the 70% mark.   

Amazon offers a number of different AWS certifications geared towards different roles.   I'm most interested in development so I gravitated towards this exam. 

Exam Topics

If you currently work for an organization that uses AWS, you'll be familiar with some of the topics already.   Even for AWS "power users", it's common to have deep knowledge of a few services and only a basic understanding of others.  Since the exam covers a wide variety of services, it's important to learn how they all work and the relationship between them:

  • Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
  • Simple Storage Services (S3) / Glacier
  • Relational Database Service (RDS)
  • DynamoDB
  • Simple Queue Service (SQS)
  • Simple Notification Service (SNS)
  • Simple Workflow Service (SWF)
  • Elastic Beanstalk
  • CloudFormation

Exam Prep

You'll definitely want to create an AWS account and take advantage of the free tier.

My background with AWS started in 2012 and since then I've become proficient with IAM, EC2, VPC, and S3.   When I registered for the exam, I had little to no knowledge of other services like Elastic Beanstalk, CloudFormation, and SWF.

While it's useful to read Amazon documentation, I learn most effectively by taking a course and doing labs. The best course to prepare for the developer exam is offered by a training site called A Cloud Guru.  The instructor Ryan Kroonenberg provides excellent and detailed coverage of the exam topics.   The course includes over 10 hours of video content for lectures and labs.  The AWS service lineup is constantly evolving and the course material is kept updated.  Note that this course is also offered on Udemy so be sure to check both places for the best price. 

I've created this study guide to help others prepare for the exam.

Exam Tips

  • Read the FAQs of each AWS service covered in the exam.  These highlight key points that will probably come up in some of the questions.
  • The Developer exam focuses on DynamoDB more than the other services so make sure you have a solid understanding of that.
  • Review your notes the day of the exam
  • If you don’t immediately know the answer, mark it for later review so you don't get hung up on a tough question.