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SAA-C02 Exam Tips AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate

My Journey to AWS Certification

Story Highlights
  • Don't underestimate the SAA-C02 exam, especially if you have just passed the CLF-C01 Cloud Practitioner easily.
  • I don't advise anyone to take the exam at home, go to a test center instead.
  • AWS Whitepapers and Services FAQs should be a main part of your study material.
  • I paid much more, but if you follow my advice in this article, you will pay a maximum of $205 for the whole thing.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate – SAA-C02 Exam Tips

So, I have just passed my AWS certified solutions architect associate level exam SAA-C02 and I thought I would come straight to my blog to provide SAA-C02 exam tips and share my exam experience as well as the whole journey that led to my latest achievement hoping it would be beneficial to those who are willing to take the AWS certified solutions architect associate level exam SAA-C02 soon.


My Background

I am an IT professional with more than a decade of experience in systems administration, network administration, virtualization, web services, and IT operations management, but with very limited exposure to cloud computing. I studied and worked on Microsoft Azure for a bit, and my AWS experience was limited to exploring S3 and EC2 free-tier couples of years ago.

[box type=”info” align=”alignleft” class=”” width=””]I would like to inform you that I am not getting paid for referring any of the material in this article. All my suggestions are genuine and this whole article is a result of my own personal experience.[/box]

AWS Certifications Journey

I started my AWS certifications journey in May 2020, during curfew, where I prepared for AWS Certified Cloud Practioner exam for less than a week and I easily passed the exam with 850 something score. This was good and bad at the same time. It felt absolutely good to pass the exam, but on the other hand, it gave me the impression that AWS certified solutions architect associate level exam SAA-C01 (retired version) is going to be as easy, so I underestimated the material and the exam. I didn’t do any labs. I studied for one month in Sybex’s  AWS Certified Solutions Architect Certification Kit: Associate SAA-C01 Exam 1st Edition by Ben Piper and David Clinton and did the 1000 practice test questions by Brett McLaughlin. Scored an average of 85 in the practice tests and booked the real exam at the end of June 2020, just before the SAA-C01 retirement date that was set on July 1, 2020. The result was a failing grade of 700! Although I almost did it (passing grade is 720), now I am glad that I didn’t, because after studying and doing labs for additional three months, I realized how much material I have failed to cover in my first attempt.

SAA-C02 is not going to be a walk in the park if you are not well prepared.

Don’t make the same mistake! SAA-C02 is not going to be a walk in the park if you are not well prepared. Almost all 65 questions in the SAA-C02 exam are scenario-based with most of them having at least two right answers where you will have to choose the best, or the most accurate, or the cost-effective, or whatever the question favors.

Booking the Exam

Do NOT take the exam at home or office! Please go to a test center instead.

There is another mistake that I would like to warn you about, and that is: Don’t DO NOT take the exam at home, please utilize the nearest test center instead. I took my AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam at home and the experience was ok, but taking the SAA-C02 exam at home was not!

I booked AWS certified solutions architect associate level exam SAA-C02 using Pearson’s Vue “At home or office” option and it was a total disaster! After reaching question 8 of the exam, the OnVue app got stuck on loading the next question. I waited for a couple of minutes, then contacted the proctor through the chat button. The proctor replied that she will restart my exam, where I will have to click the “Relaunch Exam” button and wait a moment, and then I will be able to continue from where I left.

At first, judging from the proctor’s behavior, I felt that it is something that happens all the time, no big deal, right. I tried relaunching the exam, waited for a couple of minutes, only to get a notification that the app is offline and the exam will resume after the internet connection is restored.

I checked my internet connectivity, it was ok. Long story short, I opened a ticket with PearsonVue support, and two days later, they provided me with a 100% discount voucher to reschedule the exam. I rescheduled the exam in a test center on September 22 and passed!

[box type=”download” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]Get my SAA-C02 Study notes in your email for free.

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SAA-C02 Exam Tips: Study Material

I have utilized the following study material for my SAA-C02 exam.

Adrian Cantrill Course

My personal favorite AWS certified solutions architect course in preparation for the SAA-C02 exam. What I love about Adrian’s course is the structure and the visual presentation of the architecture of every single topic in the course. The course is so well structured and built in a way that visually commits all important stuff to your memory. So, unless you have a problem with hearing the Australian accent for around 50 hours, or you are a dog person that hates cats, you will find Adrian’s course to be very useful. The course also comes with a very reasonable price tag of $40 and if you are willing to continue for the professional level you can buy both courses (associate and professional) bundle for $100. Adrian also promises life-time access, so no expiry date for purchased courses, which is something really cool and useful as a refresher for future recertification.

You can check it out here.

Tutorials Dojo Cheat Sheets and Comparisons

I used Tutorials Dojo’s cheat sheets and AWS services comparisons, and I highly recommend them. I didn’t enroll in any of their AWS courses, but I did purchase their AWS certified solutions architect associate practice exams after my disastrous home exam experince, but didn’t have the time to go through the whole thing. The exams I did look good though.

Digital Cloud Cheat Sheets by Neal Davis

I first knew about Neal Davis from his YouTube channel, I watched the five parts Practice Questions Walkthrough for the SAA-C02 – AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate and found it useful. So I checked his Digital Cloud training website and found many useful cheat sheets there as well.

I can say that the following paragraph from Digital Cloud training website is true and accurate:

“These in-depth Cheat Sheets for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate are detailed and concise and cover pretty much every fact you need to know to successfully pass the AWS certification exam! They have been compiled according to the latest AWS exam blueprint. The AWS Solution Architect Associate exam covers a broad range of topics and to optimize your time we have kept to information that is specific to this certification. We hope you find the information here useful. Content is organized into the same sections you see in the AWS Management Console.”

AWS Labs

I can’t stress enough how important it is to get some practical knowledge and see AWS services in action by practically applying some lab experience. I did almost all the demo lessons in Adrian Cantrill’s course, as well as some other exercises from QWIKLABS.

SAA-C02 Exam Tips: Practice Tests

Although I had plenty of practice test questions thanks to Neal Davis, I still wanted to be certain about the nature of the real exam questions from the official source, AWS. So I booked a 20 questions SAA-P02 practice test from Pearson Vue for $20, but now I know it wasn’t worth it. Neal Davis’s practice exams are as close to the real thing as the official practice test and you get around 500 questions with a thorough explanation for each question at $14.99.

You can purchase Digital Cloud Training AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Practice Exam Course here.

As I mentioned earlier, I also bought Tutorials Dojo $15 SAA-C02 practice tests. Didn’t have the time to go through all the questions. But the ones I did felt a bit harder than those of Neal’s and the real exam itself.

SAA-C02 Exam Tips Conclusion

So to wrap things up, here is my final take on AWS certified solutions architect associate level SAA-C02 exam tips:

1- Where to Start? If you are serious about a career in cloud computing, AWS in particular, go straight to AWS certified solutions architect associate SAA-C02. Don’t waste time on the practitioner level.

2- SAA-C02 Study material: use Adrian Cantrill Course ($40), Neal Davis Cheat Sheets (free), and AWS FAQs (free and are a must)

3- SAA-C02 Practice Exams: use Neal Davis Digital Cloud training practice test.

4- When to Schedule the exam? When you score 90%+ in practice tests. And as mentioned earlier, don’t take the exam at home unless you really need to. PearsonVue or PSI exam center is always a better choice than doing the exam on your device using your home internet.

5- Enroll in AWS Official Exam Readiness Webinar: AWS regularly organizes exam readiness free-webinars for all their exams. Make sure to get yourself into one of these webinars before the exam, it will give you some useful tips on how to deal with the exam. They are available live and in VOD. You can check webinars availability here.

6- On Exam day: If you are well prepared, you will find the exam to be easy. Just make sure you have a good night sleep the night before, take a deep breath before starting the first question and you will be fine. Good luck!

Here is an idea of what would the whole thing cost, if you choose to follow the above-mentioned tips:

Item  Price
Adrian Cantrill Course $40
Digital Cloud Training Practice Tests $15
FAQs and Cheat Sheet Free
Official Exam Readiness Webinar Free
Exam Fee with Pearson Vue or PSI $150 
AWS Labs Free Tier
My Study Notes (Download here) Free
Total $205

Final thought on SAA-C02 Exam Tips

I really hope that you find this article helpful and that I contribute a tiny bit towards your AWS certified solutions architect journey.

If you have any other useful study resources, please do share them in the comments below or let me know here.



Nizar Hakeem

Technologist, computer and communications engineering graduate, certified in the governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT), AWS Cloud, and ITIL with 12+ years of solid experience in information technology systems infrastructure and a unique mix of both technical and business skills. Blogging about technology, movies, travel, and food!

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  1. Keep in mind if you did start with the Cloud Practitioner material/exam, AWS fives you a benefit of 50% the next exam. The solutions architect material felt more comfortable to engage.

    1. That’s true Marcela, there is no harm is going through the practitioner material in preparation for SAA-C02 exam. However, you will have to pay $100 for the practitioner exam and pass it, in order to get a 50% percent discount on the associate level exam (that’s $75), so you actually end up paying more. I believe that the practitioner level exam is good for professional that wants to have an idea about AWS cloud to support their main career objectives such as information security, risk governance, IT managers…etc.

  2. For my advanced preparation I downloaded actual SAA-C02 Dumps that provided accurate details about exam topics. When I downloaded this compact PDF file from they guaranteed me unconditional accomplishment. Now I say that they satisfied their guarantee and I aced my certification with SAA-C02 PDF exam material getting distinguished position.

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