21 tips architect associate exam

21 Tips For Passing The Architect Associate Exam

I passed the AWS architect associate certification recently. I learnt a bunch studying for the certification and there’s a lot of ways you can improve your odds of passing the exam so I thought I’d share my best 21 tips for passing the architect associate exam.

The best tips for passing the architect associate exam is to form regular study routine and to invest in some high quality mock exams. These two things alone put you in the a much better position for passing the architect associate exam.

There’s no particular order to these tips so the last tip is equally as important as the first. Read them all and good luck passing your AWS Architect Associate exam!

Leave plenty of time to study

This may sounds like an obvious one and you’ll say to yourself, of course I’ll leave enough time to study the exam. How stupid do you think I am. I get it, but did you know that you can reschedule your exam really easily on the online portal?

I found myself having second thoughts that I wasn’t ready for the exam and I decided to push it back for a few weeks. I had a busy work week and wasn’t convinced I could dedicate enough time to pass the exam. Anyway the tactic worked, because when I did finally take the exam I was in a much more prepared state.


The official AWS website is filled with helpful content. So much so that I’ve decided not to write a couple of articles in the past simply because the AWS had already answered them so well.

The FAQ pages for each AWS product are carefully curated to answer….well the most frequently asked questions. They also have the added benefit of being updated regularly and are a quick way of keeping up to date with changes in the AWS product you may be using/studying.

Free AWS official learning resources

AWS wants you to learn how to use their products. Afterall if you know how to use them, then you’re more likely to use them! There’s a bunch of free learning materials on the training section of aws’s official website.

While they aren’t totally focussed on the architect associate they do cover topics you’re likely to see when taking the exam. Checkout the portfolio here.



What’s aCloudGuru? If you’ve already passed another AWS certification then there’s a good chance you already know them. Put simply they are the best when it comes to online learning courses for passing the AWS certifications.

I used them to pass this course and others. You can pay a monthly subscription and get access to all their courses on their official website or you can simply buy one individually from udemy. Honestly Ryan Kronenberg and his team kick butt on teaching you what you need to know for the exam.

Mock Exams

Other than leaving plenty of time to study, if I could give one tip for passing the architect associate exam it would be to buy some decent quality mock exams. I believe this so much so that I’ve basically added another tip recommending an excellent resource for getting mock exams.

Using mock exams gets you comfortable with answering questions in exam conditions and trains your brain to recall specific information at random. Without them I’m not sure I would have passed!


Following on from my recommendation to purchase some mock exams, I’m going to recommend the ones I took. I’ve used WhizLabs in the past for my Java certifications with good results and the story is no different for AWS.

For around $20 you can buy 5 high quality exams. Trust me, it’s totally worth paying for these. I wouldn’t recommend spending your money unless I knew you’d get excellent results from it.

Take the Cloud Practitioner Exam first!

So this is something I recommend from a previous article Are AWS Certifications Hard? Check out that article for a more in depth explanation. But put simply, by taking the cloud practitioner exam first, not only do you get an extra certification. But you also get familiar with the process you have to go through on exam day.

Things like taking your’ photo ID, test center location and booking the exam via the certification portal will all feel less intimidating when it comes to taking your architect associate exam.

You can’t beat hands on experience

You’ve bought the best online learning materials and you’ve got the mock exams. But you just can’t beat good old hands on practical experience. Sign up for a free AWS trial account and think of a little project you want to create.

Whether it’s hosting a wordpress site on EC2 or running your own database server. It doesn’t really matter. What does though, is that you’re getting used to using the actual thing you are learning!

It’s fair to say there’s a high likelihood that if your studying for a AWS certification that you’re already doing this. If this is the case then try to relate what you do on a day to day basis with the exam. This will help reinforce your learnings.

Don’t buy a brain dump

I know, this is tempting. But don’t! Just don’t! I wrote an entire article on just why this is a bad idea all together Tempted By AWS Certifications? Do this instead.

To quickly surmise, amazon are wise to dumps and rotate the questions between tests to make it very difficult for would be dumpsters to memorise the all the answers. As I mentioned earlier you’d be must better off getting a quality mock exam with detailed explanations on why the answer was correct.

Book your exam early

Ok this one might be so obvious. But there’s a number of reasons why it makes good sense to book your exam well in advance. So let’s dive in.

Firstly, test centers get busy! Imagine you’d done all the hard work studying, you’ve smashed the mock exams and you finally get around to booking the exam only to find out that the next available slot is 3 months from now! That would suck. Book early, you can always reschedule if required.

Secondly, this closely relates to the first point. If you’re wanting to book your exam for a weekend. Then these slots are even more in demand and if you have no other option you may have to choose a test center that’s further away.

Lastly, setting an exam date acts as a finish line. It focusses your mind and you get that tangible jolt where you think “Oh god, I actually have to do this” If you’re worried that you might not be ready by that date, then you can always reschedule with little trouble via the certification portal.

12 Month AWS free trial

As far as I know Amazon are the only cloud provider that offer a free 12 month limited trial of their services. Don’t get me wrong it’s limited but it means that when you’re learning AWS you don’t have to have to deal with usage bills.

It’s a smart strategy because they know it will reduce the barrier to entry when deciding which cloud platform an individual or organisation might chose. Not only that, but you can also use it when you’re studying for your certification. Checkout 12 month free trial.

Don’t bother with buying books

I’ve got a shelf full of books that I’ve collected over the years and you know what. I can count on one hand the number of times those books leave that shelf. Don’t get me wrong, I love books. But when it comes to technical books online resources just beat them hands down.

So save your money here and spend it elsewhere!

aws books

My actual bookshelf, where books go to die

Find a study partner

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t follow my own advice on this one. Not because I didn’t want to that is. But more because I didn’t know anyone at the time who was studying for this exam 🙁

A few weeks after I passed, I found out a friend was also taking the architect associate and we started trading notes, talking about subjects covered in the learning materials and lots of stuff relating to the certifications.

It was great to speak to another human being about this stuff. Of course if that’s not an option then there’s always Reddit!

Speak to someone who’s already passed the exam

Just like taking the cloud practitioner exam can better prepare you for the associate, you can also try speaking to someone who’s already passed the exam.

Having a conversation with someone who’s been through it, answered the questions, gone through the mock exam etc.. etc… can set your expectations and give you a measuring stick against your current learning.

I’ve got an article coming over soon with a friend who passed the architect associate exam. Check awscoach.net for regular updates (shameless self promotion)

Checkout AWS Coach regularly

This site is dedicated to helping people pass their AWS certifications. We have free mock exams, interviews with people who’ve passed, advice on what exams to take and strategies for learning.

Best of all, its totally free.

Youtube Videos

Nowadays there’s a YouTube video for just about everything. Video is a great way to learn. That’s why aCloudGuru’s entire course is video based. They also have a weekly AWS news video they post on youtube keeping you up to date with the latest features of AWS.

YouTubers worth checking out include:

AWS Coach is planning on setting up our own YouTube channel in the future. Let me know if this is something you’d find useful in the comments below.

Start a regular training schedule

If you are training for a marathon then the key to success is practice practice practice.

The same approach is true of passing the AWS certifications.

Take the time to set out a regular training regime. Set daily targets that are small enough to achieve. Set weekly targets and monthly targets. The best approach I found was to set short term goals to get through a section of learning materials by the end of a week.

For instance, if I was learning about S3, then I’d say.

“Ok, you’ve got to get this stuff done by Friday, if you do that then that’s great!”

Micro targets worked well for me, because I didn’t get overwhelmed by the bigger picture and sure enough over time I got through it all.

White Papers

There’s a bunch of white papers that AWS employees have written over the years that outline various concepts and features AWS provides. Things like:

  • Best Practices
  • AWS Overviews
  • Pricing structures
  • Well Architected Framework
  • Business Value of AWS
  • And so on…

Checkout the white paper home page and have a read through some of these. They can be long winded. But if you set micro goals to get through one a day. Or half of a paper a day then you’ll soon enough absorb a lot of useful information.

Write your own mock questions

This might sound a little crazy. Possibly even overkill for revision purposes. But if you really want to get a grasp of how questions are formulated then writing your own can force your mind to really think about the subject.

I cover this idea in more depth in my brain dump article.


Don’t know anyone who’s studying or has already passed the exam? I was in that situation and found that forums are a great way to connect with other people going through the same learning process you are.

It can be a real confidence booster seeing other people who’ve recently passed the exam posting their results.

Or posting questions to a forum when you get stuck. Even answering questions you might kown!

I’ve found the best 3 forums are:




Build Confidence and Stay positive

Lastly my final tip is to just stay positive. At times you’ll have doubts and try and talk yourself out of taking the exam.

HOLD in there!

Keep studying, set micro objectives and soon enough you’ll pass your AWS Architect Associate exam!!!


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