The Fastest Way to Pass Any Cloud Exam

The DevOps and Cloud Computing job market is extremely hot nowadays, and developer jobs are in high demand.

While demand for DevOps is certainly here to stay, it’s a competitive, constantly changing field. To remain relevant, you need to move quickly and you need to be able to prove your expertise. It’s no longer enough to hold one certificate to be considered an expert.

There are university graduates applying for junior roles with tens of certificates in their pockets. Even though many employers don’t require a degree for their DevOps jobs, the sheer number of certificates that graduates have can give them a leg up. And even though certificates—no matter how many you have—make no difference unless you combine them with real practice and experience, they can still advance your job search and help you stay relevant.

“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

If you’re using certifications to demonstrate expertise, you need to have many of them, ideally expert-level ones.

To achieve this, it’s becoming critical to develop the skill of passing the certification exam fast. Below, I have described a 3-step approach that allows you to pass any theoretical cloud exam, and most importantly, pass it quickly.

Step 1 – Learn theory

You can’t get certified in something you haven’t learned yet, so your first step towards passing a certification exam is to know what you’re being tested on. You’ve got to learn the theory.

There are many resources available to help you learn the basics of any DevOps program or skill. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what resource you are using. Use the ones that work for your learning style, budget, and level of expertise. Almost all modern courses are good enough, from Udemy to Pluralsight to ACloudGuru.

For example, AcloudGuru offers a decent AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate course that will help you quickly learn the theory needed to get an AWS certificate:

Remember, your goal is to successfully grasp the basics as fast as possible. Many courses include labs—skip these.  If you are comfortable, you can even increase playback speed.

Step 2 – Practice tests

Once you feel like you’ve learned the theory, it’s time to dive into actually practicing. The key here—my secret sauce, let’s say—is in how you practice. Read this carefully and apply it exactly as described. One important thing to know before you start: don’t think about these practice exams as a knowledge check. Instead, consider them an additional learning exercise. Framing your practice in this way helps you build true skills.

First, buy and download any practice test bundle. All of them are equally good. Sticking with the example above, let’s consider the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam. In this case, let’s consider this practice test bundle from Udemy:

The practice tests usually come in different modes: “Timed mode,” which mimics the actual exam, and “Review Mode,” where you can view answers and explanations after each question.

Pick the “Review Mode” and follow the algorithm described below:

  1. Read the question several times carefully, paying attention to each word.
  2. Read the options several times carefully, paying attention to each option.
  3. Select the option you think is the correct answer. Don’t press the submit button yet!
  4. Explain to yourself out loud why you think the option you have chosen is correct.
  5. Go through the rest of the options. Explain to yourself why they aren’t correct.
  6. Press the submit button and verify your assumption.

Regardless of whether you were right or wrong, go to the AWS documentation and search for the learning page that confirms your answer.

At this stage, slow down. Rushing will not help you learn. The goal is quality over quantity.

Don’t complete this process on all 60 questions at once. You’ll tire yourself out and have less space to internalize the information. Start with just several questions per day and slowly increase your speed. Don’t skip any questions and don’t scan through the pages, even if you’re tempted.

Step 3 – Be ready for a second attempt.

At this point, you’ve learned the concepts and practiced using the technique described. Do a gut check. How ready do you feel to take the exam? Perhaps contrary to belief, you shouldn’t feel 100% sure about every topic. It would take months if not a year or more to take an exam where you are 100% confident about everything.  This is not feasible or realistic in today’s job market and the everyday demands of life. Instead, it’s better to take the exam when you feel about 70% sure about the material.

Take the exam! Simple, right? Of course, it’s simple if you pass the exam on this first attempt. In that case, your goal is completed. Congratulations! You can move on to getting the next certificate.

While it’s more than possible to pass the exam on your first attempt, that’s not the case for many people—and that’s okay! Expect to take the exam a second time. In fact, it could be a benefit to you to do so.

From my experience, people who fail the exam the first time still do so with a score of around 60%. See that as a learning opportunity. You can now use the questions from the real exam as feedback on how to improve.

Think about this possibility while you take the test for the first time. You are not allowed to make any notes during the test, so before you press the submit button, take several minutes to review all your questions and try to remember as much about them as possible. Make mental notes about which topics you felt less confident on and any gaps in your knowledge. Then press the submit button. The moment you see anything other than “pass”, write down all those mental notes immediately. That will become your study plan for the next 14 days.

And then, take the exam again. Be confident!

The great thing about this system is that it can be universally applied across any Cloud certification exam in a fast and efficient way. This is how I teach my clients, and they have been successful in getting certifications using this method.

To prove that I not only talk the talk but can also walk the walk, here is the recent certificate of my mentee who prepared using this system. He spent less than a month studying and passed the exam on the first attempt.

Remember, certificates under your belt—and a lot of them—are tangible evidence for potential employers. Recruiters look for them, so run “twice as fast” and beat the competition.

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Originally published Mar 25, 2022 1:33:54 AM (updated August 23 2022 )

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  1. Ali Yar

    More details please.

  2. Rajesha CT

    Good article

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