How I prepared for the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam

I’m currently working on a cloud product which is utilizing the AWS cloud; so it was a great time to study for and take the AWS Cloud Practitioner Exam. Here are some of the details on how I prepared for the exam; but none of the details from the actual exam, just logistics.

AWS Exam Booking

  • Here is the exam which will cost 100 USD with the course code CLF-C01.
  • I’ve taken the practice questions and have managed to get 4/10 correct. Most of my failures were around security and the marketplace.
  • There are online companies which allow you to take a more extensive practice exam but you have to pay.

So as with any goal the first step is to be clear about the outcome and to strategize a bit and the options seem pretty simple, either:

  • Youtube videos or paid udemy courses to prepare
  • Amazon Webinars (although I didn’t initially realize this was possible)
  • Random training companies offering paid for courses
  • Or the New AWS training game

I had a little experiment with the AWS training game because it seemed like a new way to approach learning technical concepts through a VR environment. Essentially you walk around a VR world taking 12 core training modules and playing with the environment.

Walking around the VR world

You find the 12 core modules covered by walking around the VR world and get a kind of scenario for each. This includes some video lectures, a demo section in which you get access to an AWS account and then an independent challenge. Each challenge has an associated test. Some of the subjects included in lectures, follow allow exercises and diy challenges are:

  • S3 buckets
  • EC2 availability zones
  • Scaling up an EC2 Instance
  • VPC
  • DB setup in the cloud (MariaDB & DynamoDB)
  • Cloud economics – here’s a public link for that
  • IAM security
  • Peering connections
  • + a few more

As you go through the world you get a % progress marker, which is actually quite helpful in measuring your effort to progress ratio; especially when considering exam booking.

The VR world

I’m absolutely impressed by the way they have gamified the learning environment. Walking around this virtual world is actually surprisingly engaging. When you don’t want to study difficult content you can just cruise around the city and do quizzes relevant to the exam or just arbitrarily modify the place with the points you get for doing the study. Perhaps that’s not the most effective study habit but it certainly does keep you engaged in the subject.

Security Island

In a moment of exploration I realized how well a Virtual Environment works for learning. I was losing focus and went exploring and found an entirely new area called security islandwhich has a medieval theme going on. It’s a physical (virtual space) where all the interactions are associated with security concepts which helps with memorisation.

Also once I discovered this island I realized that you can accidentally find the other AWS trainings in this VR including:

  • Machine Learning
  • Solutions Architect
  • Serverless Developer
  • Cloud Practitioner

Virtual Private Cloud VPC

Security groups was the subject I struggled with most during the practice questions as the networking involved is a bit tricky when you start to think of IP addresses and access control to storage; or at least I thought so.

Peering connections

Configuring peering connections was a totally new experience for me. While it’s reasonably simple conceptually, actually implementing it was a challenge and a few of the acronyms flying around caused me some issues.

  • CIDR acronym CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing)
  • POSIX file control systems = Portable Operating System Interface
  • Subnet…
  • NFS = Network File System

This little diagram helped me understand subnets in a way that I just didn’t before.

Finally taking the Exam

I’m sorry but I cannot say much about this because it would be potentially a problem with the folks over at AWS. But I can say that I was able to take the exam over my lunch break at home but I had to reshuffle my desk so that it was possible to do that. Ultimately I passed the exam having studied a solid 12 hours using exclusively the VR game; although in retrospect I might also take an AWS webinar to explain some of the higher level, less practical questions.

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