Back End Development
Hey everyone! I haven’t blogged in a very long time 😅, however I’m really excited to share that I passed the AWS Associate Developer (DVA-C02) exam in March 2023. In this post, I will document how I prepared for this exam with all the resources linked, hoping it helps anyone else that wants to go for this certification.
In terms of my personal experience, I’d say I had 6-7 months of hands-on experience of AWS before sitting this exam, and before 2022 I had no idea about AWS and Cloud Computing, so I certainly wasn’t super experienced before sitting the exam.
Note: This certification was updated in February 2023, so some resources you find out there may only be targetting the old certification (the code was DVA-C01). However, a lot of what is tested in the new exam is still the same, so these resources are still valid - just keep this in mind when looking for resources online! If you want to learn about the difference between the DVA-C01 and DVA-C02 exam, check out this video by Cloudcademy - not only does it explain the difference between the two exams, but also covers exam techniques for sitting the exam. I found this video really useful to understand how to best answer the exam questions.
Udemy Course Link: https://www.udemy.com/course/aws-certified-developer-associate-dva-c01
This course was my primary knowledge base to cover the specification for the exam. Stéphane’s course is great as it is tailored towards passing the exam, so he will often highlight specific things that could be asked in the exam, and cover typical exam questions related to the topic you are studying. Each section would always have a “hands on” where he’d show you how the services works in AWS - this was a great way to solidify the theory that he’d cover. Udemy courses are usually always on sale, so I bought it for £10 - £15.
Note: This exam was updated to cover the new exam specification, DVA-C02, which has been running since the end of February (2023).
WhizLabs Link: https://www.whizlabs.com/aws-developer-associate/
TutorialsDojo Link: https://portal.tutorialsdojo.com/courses/aws-certified-developer-associate-practice-exams/
The most important thing for exam preparation is practice exams - these will get you familarised with the exam question style, and identify where your knowledge gaps are after studying. I bought the WhizLabs exam questions during Black Friday (while other people were probably buying more interesting things 👀), so got it fairly cheap, but I think both the WhizLabs and TutorialsDojo exam questions are fairly inexpensive.
What’s great about these exam questions is that there is an explanation attached to each question, so you will know why a specific answer is correct. These explanations are a great way to revise a concept, and I learned a lot just by doing these alone too aside from studying the Udemy course.
In terms of the exams I actually sat, I completed 5 WhizLabs papers, and 2 TutorialsDojo ones after - if I had more time I would’ve liked to have done every single one. I failed the first two WhizLab papers I sat, by between 3-6 marks, but this was due to not having covered some sections of the Udemy course. I did some further study and learned new concepts, and this extra knowledge helped me get enough marks to pass. I ended up getting between 72-75% by the time I was close to sitting the real exam.
Note: I think you could get away with buying one or the other of the two - I just wanted to buy from multiple sources to get a good breadth of questions.
I used Notion to create a checklist out of Stéphane’s Udemy course. There’s a lot of sections in it, so I prioritised focusing on the sections of AWS I had no knowledge of. For me this was stuff around EC2, EC2 Instance Storage - services that weren’t totally serverless. This gave me enough time to absorb these “newer” concepts before the exam. The last things I studied, and actually only skimmed due to experience, was the Serverless services such as Lambda, SNS and SQS.
Planning the order I wanted to study really helped me so as soon as I completed one section, I knew what section I wanted to do next. I grouped sections of the course together where the topic was similar, for example, there were a couple of sections focused around IAM, so I did them one after the other.
Again, using Notion, I wrote notes on each section I studied. I personally cannot watch a lecture and absorb the knowledge, I need to be actively doing something. My method of writing notes is to write what the instructor is saying in my own words, or in a simpler format. Sometimes this was just writing exactly what the instructor was saying, but other times it was a much simpler format of what was being said. I’d highlight and bold any key areas covered, or areas I felt I’d easily forget. Note that this wasn’t a memorisation exercise, however writing something down helped me process and understand what was being said.
Since I wrote the notes in Notion, I’d often skim them before I slept or on a commute as I could access them from my phone - made it easy to revise something I felt like I was forgetting 😅
AWS re:Invent is an annual AWS conference where AWS specialists deliver talks on all areas of AWS. Before I knew I was going to study for this certification, I’d often watch these talks (AWS Stash has loads of these talks, and other useful resources). They gave me a good overview of some services such as Lambda and SQS. Whilst watching these aren’t necessary, I do believe they gave me an overall foundation to go off before starting revision specifically for the exam. If you see one that sounds interesting, stick it on in the background as you may pick stuff up from it that aids you in the exam!
As mentioned earlier, these really helped me identify what areas I was still struggling with before the exam, and the exam questions from the resources I’ve recommended are very similar in format and style to what is asked in the real exam.
This section is just a quick one around sitting the exam - you can either do it remotely or at a test center. I opted to go to a test center, as I read and heard about how strict the exam is remotely. You have someone watching you throughout the process and apparently, small things such as reading the question to yourself could be seen as cheating. It was much easier to go into the test center in my opinion, but of course this may not be an option for you.
In the exam, you do get given a pen and paper to note things down, I found this super handy to process each question and what it was asking of me. I even ended up drawing diagrams to understand different scenarios better - so yeah, I’d recommend jotting your thoughts down to help understand the question better!
You will not see the result at the end of the test - I assumed I would! Instead, you will get an email informing you that the result has been posted ot your AWS Training portal. I sat the exam on Monday afternoon and had my result the following morning.
I hope this post gives you a good idea of one way to approach preparing for this exam. How much you need to study will really depend on how much AWS experience you’ve had - in my case, not loads. I’d be happy to answer any questions on this, feel free to reach out on my LinkedIn 👋🏼