How to crack AWS Cloud Practitioner certification?

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How to crack AWS Cloud Practitioner Exam

AWS certification is the most in-demand IT certification these days.  AWS or Amazon Web Services is a major player in pay as you use basis, cloud computing market against Google cloud and Azure. Opportunities for AWS certified candidates are increasing, due to which there is huge interest from IT professionals. Top-Paying IT Certifications report identifies the AWS Cloud Practitioner salary as one of the top ten best-paid IT certifications in the United States, where the average base AWS cloud architect salary (as of Jan 2021) is $1,48,623.

The blog serves as a comprehensive guide providing complete details about the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification exam and how to prepare and obtain the AWS certification.

What is AWS Cloud Practitioner Exam?

AWS certification has gained prominence due to widespread acceptance of cloud computing for organizational needs, especially for startups. Due to low-cost internet access and better connectivity, cloud computing has emerged as the new age industry in IT. Due to pay as you need model, it has been accepted by new-age startups as well as established corporate to address their IT infrastructure issues, especially with scalability and availability.

AWS or Amazon Web Services was launched in 2006 with SQS, EC2 an S3 services as an offshoot from Amazon’s internal IT management team, for IT infrastructure as a service. Since then, AWS evolved and is the leader in cloud computing market across the globe against other competitors like Azure from Microsoft, GCP from Google and IBM.

AWS certification is the certification for IT professionals who want to stay relevant and grasp the huge career opportunity in cloud computing market.

AWS Cloud Practitioner Exam Details

AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification is the entry level basic certification for obtaining advanced expert level AWS certifications.

Candidates need to clear the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification exam to qualify for following advanced AWS certifications and learning paths on

AWS cloud practitioner certification exam

The official exam guide from AWS is available for download, at the following link

Exam Eligibility

AWS has listed following eligibility criteria for the exam

  • AWS Knowledge Requirement
    • A minimum of six months of experience with the AWS Cloud
    • Eligible role may be technical, managerial, sales, purchasing, or financial.
  • IT Knowledge Requirement
    • Basic knowledge of IT services and their uses in the AWS Cloud platform

AWS Cloud Practitioner Exam Pattern

AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam has MCQ type objective type questions only.

Two types of objective questions are present in the examination, as

  • Multiple-choice type objective questions: These questions have only one correct answer and remaining three are incorrect (also called as distracters by AWS).
  • Multiple-response type objective questions: These questions have multiple correct answers usually two or more amongst remaining five or more listed options.
AWS certification exam question pattern

AWS Cloud Practitioner Passing Score

  • Candidate should select one or more answers which best answer the question
  • There is no negative marking or penalty for answers guessed by candidate.
  • Unanswered questions are scored as incorrect
  • The examination may also have content items which are unscored or no score is assigned. They are listed in exam to collect statistical information. They are not identifiable and do not affect your score.

Exam Result

  • Exam result, is a scaled score between 100 to 1000
  • Minimum passing score is 700.
  • The exam score report has a tabular listing of your performance for every section of the exam.
  • The table shows your strengths and weaknesses, for every section.
  • You do not need to pass each section but, should be able to pass the overall certification exam.
  • As every exam section has varying weighting hence, varying number of questions is listed in exam against each section.
  • Score lists your performance in the examination and whether or not you passed.
  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam is a pass or fail exam.
  • Scoring is done against a minimum standard established by AWS professionals as per best practices and guidelines.
AWS cloud practitioner certification exam result

Exam Objectives

The certification exam checks candidate on

  • What is AWS Cloud and its global infrastructure
  • AWS Cloud architectural principles
  • AWS Cloud value proposition
  • AWS platform’s key services and their common use cases (like, compute and analytics)
  • Security and compliance of the AWS platform
  • AWS shared security model
  • AWS platform’s billing, account management, and pricing models
  • Can access information sources and technical assistance (like whitepapers or support tickets)
  • Basics of deploying and operating in the AWS Cloud.

AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam Outline

The AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam covers four domains on AWS, which are

  • Cloud Concepts
  • Security
  • Technology
  • Billing and Pricing

Weightings of each subject area, in AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam is listed and described below

AWS cloud practitioner exam domain area weightings

The section-wise weightings are as

S.No. Domains Weighting
1 Cloud Concepts 28%
2 Security 24%
3 Technology 36%
4 Billing & Pricing 12%

Each section as per their weighting will have different number of questions, in the exam.

AWS Cloud Practitioner Preparation Guide

Preparation for AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam involves accessing various free online resources.

Reference Books

Various reference books are available for the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam and few good ones are

  • The Beginners Guide to Amazon Web Services by Dennis Hutten
  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Study Guide: CLF–C01 Exam – by Ben Piper, David Clinton  
  • AWS Basics: Beginner’s Guide-by Gordon Wong
  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certification Guide: Complete 2018 Clf-C01 Exam Study Guide by Todd Montgomery
  • Amazon Web Services for Dummies-by Bernard Golden
  • Building Applications in Cloud – Concepts, Patterns, and Projects by Christopher Moyer
  • Learning AWS: Design, build and deploy responsive applications using AWS Cloud components, 2nd Edition- by Aurobindo Sarkar and Amit Shah.

Online Course and Tutorials

The AWS Cloud Practitioner Online Course helps you prepare better learning opportunities.

AWS Cloud Practitioner Online Course

Join Community

Many Q&A websites also have good information on various topics of the exam and few are

  • Reddit
  • Stackoverflow
  • Quora

Evaluate yourself with Practice Tests

Practice tests better prepare you for the assessment exam. Most practice test providers provide detailed analysis of your knowledge for AWS Cloud Practitioner certification exam.

Amazon also provides few practice questions

Testpreptraining also offers practice test on AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam in two modes, as

AWS Free Trainings

AWS offers various free trainings for AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam at link –https://aws.amazon.com/training/. These trainings are provided free of charge and only registration is needed.

The various trainings relevant for preparation are

AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials (Second Edition) course –

This free course gives an understanding of AWS Cloud, for any job role. It covers concepts of cloud, basics of AWS services, security, architecture, pricing, and support.

AWS Technical Essentials course –

This free AWS course covers technical aspects of AWS platform as needed in AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam. It covers technical details on AWS services with fundamentals of AWS services to map as per your business requirements.

It covers

  • AWS foundation services like Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Simple Storage Service (S3), and Elastic Block Store (EBS)
  • AWS Database services: DynamoDB and Relational Database Service (RDS)
  • AWS Management services: Auto Scaling, CloudWatch, Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), and Trusted Advisor

AWS Business Essentials course –

This course focuses on business and economics aspects of AWS platform. It covers

  • Financial benefits of AWS
  • AWS compliance
  • security of AWS  platform

AWS Whitepapers

Free AWS Whitepapers for AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam are at link – https://aws.amazon.com/whitepapers/

Relevant whitepapers for the exam are

  • Overview of Amazon Web Services whitepaper, July 2019
  • Architecting for the Cloud: AWS Best Practices whitepaper, October 2018
  • How AWS Pricing Works whitepaper, June 2018
  • Cost Management in the AWS Cloud whitepaper, March 2018

AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification – Domain 1 – Cloud Concepts

AWS Cloud Practitioner Cheat Sheet

This subject area focuses on knowledge of cloud computing basics. It has 28% weighting in the exam.

To get full marks in this subject area, you should be able to

  • define the basic components and architecture of AWS Cloud
  • describe  the value proposition of cloud against on-premise
  • Specify AWS Cloud economics related aspects
  • Have full awareness of different cloud architecture design principles like elasticity, scalability, high availability and fault tolerance.

AWS cloud infrastructure offers, services on compute, storage, security, database and management. AWS services includes

Compute Services

  • EC2 or Elastic Compute Cloud
  • AWS Lambda

Storage Services

  • Amazon Glacier
  • Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS)
  • Amazon S3
  • Cloud Front

Security Services

  • IAM (Identity and Access Management) 
  • Certificate Manager

Database Services

  • Amazon RDS
  • Amazon DynamoDB
  • Amazon ElastiCache
  • Amazon RedShift

Management Services

  • CloudWatch 
  • CloudFormation
  • OpsWorks
AWS services list

Cloud Architecture Design Principles, are

  • Operational Excellence
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Performance Efficiency
  • Cost Optimization

As per AWS, Domain 1 or Cloud Concepts section has following topics
1.1 Define the AWS Cloud and its value proposition
1.2 Identify aspects of AWS Cloud economics
1.3 List the different cloud architecture design principles

AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification – Domain 2 – Security

This domain covers security aspects of AWS platform. It has 24% weighting in the exam.

Passing this domain, requires you to be acquainted with

  • AWS Shared Responsibility model
  • AWS Cloud security tools like logging, protection against web attacks
  • AWS Compliance to various legal requirement and security standards  like data privacy, compliance reporting
  • Access management resources in AWS like MFA, IAM, password policies
  • AWS resources for security support with trusted advisor

Shared Security model is the basis of sharing responsibilities amongst customer and AWS.

AWS Cloud Security and Compliance covers following aspects of AWS Security

  • Infrastructure Security
  • Infrastructure Resilience
  • Data Encryption
  • Monitoring and Logging
  • Identity and Access Control
  • Compliance Assurance Programs
  • Security Support
  • Standards and Best Practices

AWS Access Management capabilities include

  • Access management in AWS infrastructure, is provided through AWS IAM or Identity and Access Management.
  • AWS IAM facilitates secured access to AWS services and resources for users.
  • Create and manage AWS users and groups,
  • Permissions in AWS can be used to enable or deny AWS resource access.
  • These features in AWS are provided free of charge.
  • AWS charges only usage of other chargeable AWS services, only
AWS IAM

As per AWS, Domain 2 or Security section has following topics
2.1 Define the AWS Shared Responsibility model
2.2 Define AWS Cloud security and compliance concepts
2.3 Identify AWS access management capabilities
2.4 Identify resources for security support

AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification – Domain 3 – Technology

Technology is the most crucial domain as it has 36% weighting in the exam. It focuses on how well you have grasped the core AWS platform’s working and services.

To crack this section, you should

  • Know deploying AWS Cloud
  • Be aware of operating AWS Cloud
  • Have clear understanding of AWS global infrastructure
  • Know the core AWS services and their use cases like EC2, RDS, SNS, ELB, S3 and Lambda
  • Can access AWS technology support for any technical issue by raising support tickets

Various services in AWS for provisioning IT infrastructure and the deployment of applications are

  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk – A platform configuration defines the infrastructure and software stack to be used for a given environment.
  • AWS CloudFormation – It is a service to model and set up your Amazon Web Services resources
  • AWS OpsWorks – Configuration management service from AWS in 2 variations: AWS OpsWorks for Puppet Enterprise and AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate.
  • AWS CodeDeploy – AWS service for automation of code and software deployments to any AWS instance.
  • AWS CodePipeline – A CI/CD or continuous integration/continuous delivery service from AWS
  • Amazon EC2 Container Service – AWS container management service for Docker containers

AWS Global Infrastructure involves knowledge of

  • Availability Zones (AZs)
  • Regions
  • Edge Locations
  • Regional Edge Caches
AWS global infrastructure

List of AWS services are

  • EC2
  • VPC
  • S3
  • RDS
  • Lambda
  • Route 53
  • SNS
  • SQS
  • ELB

The resources available for technical support depend on your support plan. They are:

  • Developer Support
  • Business Support
  • Enterprise Support

As per AWS, Domain 3 or Technology section has following topics
3.1 Define methods of deploying and operating in the AWS Cloud
3.2 Define the AWS global infrastructure
3.3 Identify the core AWS services
3.4 Identify resources for technology support

AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification – Domain 4 – Billing and Pricing

Though it is the least weighting domain area of the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam with 12% weighting but, it is crucial for knowing the business aspect of AWS platform.

This section covers

  • Various pricing models available in AWS platform for various services
  • Calculating AWS service costs
  • Account structures in AWS for billing and pricing like BU based, project based accounting structure
  • AWS billing support resources like cost calculator

The pricing models for AWS are principally

  • “Compute Resources”
  • “Data Storage and Transfer”
  • request pricing
  • monthly targeted audience (MTA) pricing
  • events collected pricing
  • messages sent pricing, etc
AWS pricing principle

Various accounting structures can be used by AWS customers, as per their need

  • Business Unit (BU) AWS Account Structure
  • Environment Lifecycle AWS Account Structure
  • Project-Based AWS Account Structure
  • Hybrid AWS Account Structures

As per AWS, Domain 4 or Billing and Pricing section has following topics
4.1 Compare and contrast the various pricing models for AWS
4.2 Recognize the various account structures in relation to AWS billing and pricing
4.3 Identify resources available for billing support

Exam Summary

AWS Cloud Practitioner certification exam is apt for candidate who wants to validate or gain know-how of AWS Cloud platform. The exam covers skills on AWS core services, security, pricing and support.

A brief summary of the certification exam is

  • Exam Code – CLF-C01
  • Exam Level – Foundational or Basic
  • Exam Duration – 90 minutes
  • Exam Cost – USD $ 100
  • Exam Pre-requisite – Following to be satisfied
    • Minimum of 6 months of experience with the AWS Cloud in any role ( including technical, managerial, sales, purchasing, or financial)
    • Basic understanding of IT services and their uses in the AWS Cloud platform.
  • Exam Format or Pattern of Questions –
    • Multiple-choice: Has one correct response and other are incorrect
    • Multiple-response: Has two or more correct responses out of available options
  • Exam Delivery Method – Testing center or online proctored exam
  • Exam Scoring – Scaled score from 100 to 1000
  • Passing score – 700
  • Exam Language – English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese

Cracking AWS Certification Exam

Cracking AWS certification exam involves not just studying the AWS cloud computing concepts but also making a plan to crack the exam. Clearing the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification exam creates a platform to register for advanced AWS certifications and also validate your knowledge of cloud computing and AWS.

Steps to crack an AWS Cloud Practitioner certification are listed below.

Step 1 – Create a Plan

Before preparing for the exam, create a short and long term plan (like daily /monthly plan) as per time you can dedicate for preparation.

Also check funds needed to prepare for the exam. If you are tight on budget, increase the allocated time as quality resources available for free, is difficult to come by.

Step 2 – Shortlist books and websites for AWS certification

There many websites providing training and questions to practice for cracking the exam.

  • Review them as per your budget.
  • Opt for trial period, if offered
  • Ease of using the website and extensive reporting also help you in preparation

You may also purchase AWS certification books, if you can self-study.

Step 3 – Focus on concepts

Grasping the concepts is of prime importance, for cracking the AWS exam.

  • Instead of mugging up, visualize the concepts.
  • Try to self-teach the concept for better understanding

Step 4 – Practice

  • Allocate some time daily, to practice
  • Practicing helps in reinforcing the newly learnt concept
  • Purchase access to websites offering practice questions
  • Revise concepts and techniques to quickly know the advanced concepts

Step 5 – Stick to Schedule

Manage your time so that allocated time for preparation is not compromised.  Sticking to schedule, helps you quickly progress in absorbing the lessons.

Step 6 – Finally appear for exam

After completing all lessons, practice extensively to score high in practice test on AWS Cloud Practitioner certification. Post-practice schedule and appear for exam.

Hurray! You have cracked the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification exam.

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