Updated: Dec 22, 2020
In this article, I want to share my experience of taking the exam online, what you can expect to happen on the day of the exam, and what happens after gaining your certification.
Preparing your exam
Due to the current global health situation, AWS is offering online proctoring for their certification exams. This means you can take your exam from the comfort of your own home. However, there are some steps you need to take to prepare your exam environment to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible:
･Set up your exam space in an empty room if possible
･Make sure there are no books, magazines, or other paperwork nearby
･Set up your exam desk so that there will be a blank wall in front of you if you can
･Ensure the area immediately to your sides and behind you are also clear
･If there are TVs or computer monitors nearby, unplug them
･Remove any watch you are wearing
･Make sure your computer is plugged into a charger
Why do all this? Well, when you check-in for your exam, you will be asked to provide photographs of your exam space. Just before the exam begins, the proctor will call you via your computer to go through a few things with you and will ask you to show the view in front of you (hopefully a blank wall).
If you take a little bit of time to think about and prepare your exam space, you can avoid any distracting delays before the exam begins.
The exam experience
If you’ve taken the time to try some sample exams during your studies, you will know that the exam is in a multiple-choice question format. You should know, approximately, how much time you have to spend on each question: sometimes you’ll go a little over that time, other times you’ll spend less time on a question. On average, try not to spend too long on a question.
If you are unsure of any question or answer, you have the option to flag a question for review later on. Make sure you do this: I’ve sometimes found that I’ve been unsure of an answer I’ve given, only to find that a later question somehow gives a bit of extra information that’s useful to the first question. At the end of the exam you might find yourself with some extra time: use this time to review the questions you’ve flagged, even if you do feel mentally tired. It’s a very good way to pull in a few extra marks to get you over the line to pass the exam. Remember, there is no negative marking, so even if you get an answer wrong you won’t be penalized.
Throughout the exam, you will be monitored via camera and microphone by the proctor. If you’re like me, you will be a person who normally “beard strokes” and looks into the distance while thinking about a problem. Try not to do this during the exam, as the proctor will ask you to stop. If you do any actions which the proctor considers to be signs of cheating, they may end the exam and you will not pass.
Pass the exam
First and foremost, achieving an AWS certification will affirm your knowledge and experience of the technologies offered by Amazon Web Services. It will mean you have proven competency to create, work with, and engineer solutions in the cloud. That, in itself, is a great thing to have, but that’s not all there is.
As soon as you achieve certification, you open up new opportunities and avenues in your professional life. AWS is a major player in the cloud space and companies and organizations using AWS will always be on the lookout for skilled engineers: having a certification immediately gives you an edge over non-certified job applicants, and because your skills are so in demand right now, you also have the means to negotiate a higher salary.
Preparing for and sitting for an AWS exam is not an easy task, but going into the challenge with a positive attitude and a good study plan will make it go as smoothly as possible for you. Putting in the work to achieve an AWS certification is a task that is worthwhile and rewarding: not only rewarding in the personal sense but also in the sense that it can open up whole new avenues of opportunity for you.
Whether you already work with AWS or are hoping to broaden your horizons, I encourage you to take those steps to achieve certification. And when you do pass that exam, be proud of what you’ve done because you absolutely deserve it.