How I Passed the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional Exam
The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional Exam was much more difficult than the Associate exams I’d previously taken. Here are some of my thoughts around this exam and the study methods that helped me to pass the exam. This might not work for everyone, but it got me through it.
What makes this exam more difficult than the Associate exams?
First of all and most noticeably is the length. The exam is 75 questions with a 3 hour time limit. That gives you 2.4 minutes per question which seems like a good amount of time, except approximately 95% of the questions on this exam are scenario based with questions that are multiple lines long as well as multipart answers. The clock ticks down fast. Not only is that timeline tight, 3 hours is a long time to sit in one place and answer a lot of technical questions. It’s tiring. Make sure you feel well prepared when you schedule your exam.
My Study Materials
Review the Exam Guide Provided by AWS
I do this to understand what to expect on the exam. There are 6 domains in the DevOps Pro exam, each with different weights. My exam felt heavier on ‘Monitoring and Logging’ and ‘SDLC Automation’ but each exam will be different.
Domain % of Exam Domain 1: SDLC Automation 22% Domain 2:Configuration Management and Infrastructure as Code 19% Domain 3: Monitoring and Logging 15% Domain 4: Policies and Standards Automation 10% Domain 5: Incident and Event Response 18% Domain 6: High Availability, Fault Tolerance, and Disaster Recovery 16% TOTAL 100%
The exam guide breaks down each domain into sub categories. It’s important to understand these domains, even more so in this exam than others, as there is more of a focus on theory than remembering facts and figures.
Try to answer the 10 sample exam questions given by AWS.
This helps me to understand what I’m in for and how ready I am before I begin my heavy study. It also sheds some light on areas that I may be weaker in compared to others and need to pay special attention to.
Watch Training Videos
In my case I used A Cloud Guru, Linux Academy, Whizlabs, and Cloud Academy for this content. Each site has courses tailored specifically for this exam. I started with A Cloud Guru because I personally prefer the content from them, but all of the sites do an excellent job. I keep a OneNote window open to keep screen shots of key points or to make quick notes of items to follow up on. While I’m watching the videos I will pause often when I see something that’s new to me and play with the service in the console. I’ll also go through the AWS documentation and getting started guide for that service to get some hands on experience with it.
Go Through Labs
Once I’ve gone through the videos and hit up the AWS White Papers/Documents for unfamiliar services I’ll go through the same sites above and look for labs that align with the services that are new to me. These labs will usually use a different problem to solve with the service than the getting started documents or even mix multiple services together. I found Linux Academy and Cloud Academy to have the best labs in my experience.
Take Practice Exams
Finally, I’ll take practice exams. As I start out I like to select the option for study mode if it’s available which will show you the correct answer after you’ve selected your choice. When I make an incorrect choice I’ll add it to my OneNote notes and dig deeper into the documentation to better understand why I was incorrect and why the other choice was the right one. I also do not repeat practice exams often as I tend to simply memorize the answers to those specific questions rather than getting a deeper understanding of the subject when I retake the same set of questions. I did not see a single question on my exam that was a 1 for 1 match of a practice exam question. Whizlabs was the best tool for me when it came to practice exams. They have multiple practice exams, unlike one or two on the other sites, and they have a study mode that gives well informed explanations of the answers.
Schedule the Exam
Once I’m hitting a score of 80% or higher when attempting practice exams where I haven’t memorized questions I feel ready and will schedule the exam. At this point I’ll review my notes and revisit the areas that were more difficult in the practice exams. Typically searching out more in depth content such as white papers, info from third party blogs, and read deeper into the AWS Docs for the service.
There was one key that I didn’t mention above because it’s not something that can necessarily be studied for. Having experience with software development teams will be very helpful on this exam, more so than others. This exam is big on real world scenarios and using words like “most efficient”, “most cost effective”, “least amount of management overhead afterwards”, etc.
This is what worked for me. I hope it helps someone else out there to prepare for and pass their exam. Feel free to add other tips in the comments.
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