If you’re building applications on the AWS cloud or looking to get started in cloud computing, certification is a way to build deep knowledge in key services unique to the AWS platform.

AWS currently offers 12 certifications that cover major cloud roles including Solutions Architect, Developer, and SysOps Administrator. Exams are also offered at the associate and professional level for specialty topics (such as machine learning, advanced networking, big data, security) as well as Cloud Practitioner, designed around AWS basics for business roles outside of IT.

If you’re getting ready to take an AWS exam, there are many factors to consider about the process. In this post, we’ll show you what to expect so you can be successful.

You have the skills. Now what?

You’ve chosen the right AWS certification for your goals and you’ve taken Cloud Academy’s AWS Hands-on Labs, Courses, and practice quizzes to hone your skills. Now you’re ready to take an exam and earn a certification. Here’s what you need to know to be exam-ready.

Types of questions

If you have been studying diligently on Cloud Academy and taking practice quizzes and preparation exams, you should have a firm grasp of the subject material. Each AWS certification exam covers a large amount of material and you’ll need to have a solid understanding of every topic to be able to test with confidence.

AWS certification exams feature questions in multiple-choice or multiple-answer formats. Each question covers a real-world scenario and may include graphics or charts for further elaboration.

Multiple-choice questions present four or more possible solutions to the scenario, with one single best answer.

Multiple-answer questions present four or more options and ask you to select two or more of the best answers. This means that there will be several correct answers.

Questions are intentionally written to be ambiguous to test the depth of your knowledge. Read them carefully (but quickly) and never make assumptions beyond the information presented in the question.

Exam format

All AWS Certification Exams come in the same format, which shows you one question at a time, similar to the preparation exams you’ll find at Cloud Academy.

When you are presented with a question, you will have the option to “mark for later.” Once you have navigated through all of the questions, the system will display a list of every question that you answered. Each question will show the option you selected as letter(s). Any question “marked for later” will be displayed with an asterisk next to it. At this point, you have the opportunity to quickly revisit the questions you skipped or to check your work.

Understanding and deciphering cert questions and exams

Get a breakdown of tips to ace your next AWS cert exam. In this on-demand webinar, our AWS Certification Specialist, Stephen Cole teaches you how to think about the questions and attack them to get the best chance of success.

AWS Certification costs

AWS Certification Exams range in price from $100.00 USD to $300.00 USD.

As of August 2020, these are the available AWS Certification exams. Note: since 2019, many of the exams have been lengthened in the amount of time provided:

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Length: 90 minutes
    Cost: $100.00 USD
  • AWS Certified Developer – Associate
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 130 minutes
    Cost: $150.00 USD
  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 130 minutes
    Cost: $150.00 USD
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C02)
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 130 minutes (based on the new exam)
    Cost: $150.00 USD
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple answer
    Time: 180 minutes
    Cost: $300.00 USD
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 180 minutes
    Cost: $300.00 USD
  • AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 170 minutes
    Cost: $300.00 USD
  • AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 170 minutes
    Cost: $300.00 USD
  • AWS Certified Security – Specialty
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 170 minutes
    Cost: $300.00 USD
  • AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 170 minutes
    Cost: $300.00 USD
  • AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 180 minutes
    Cost: $300.00 USD
  • AWS Certified Database – Specialty
    Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
    Time: 180 minutes
    Cost: $300.00 USD
aws certification exams

To start your path to certification, explore our up-to-date content and hands-on labs for all AWS certifications here.

Test environment

In-person exams

Note: Some online testing centers are closed due to COVID-19. It’s best to check with the individual location if you want an in-person test.

AWS exams can be taken via either the Pearson VUE or PSI network of testing centres. At the exam, you will need to show two forms of personal identification for admission. Primary identification forms include valid and current government-issued driver’s license and passport; secondary identification forms include debit/ATM cards or a second primary ID form.

The security procedures for AWS exams are very strict and prohibit personal items (notes, phones or laptops, backpacks, notepads), food, or drink in the test area. Eyewear, watches, or GPS tracking devices that are worn into the testing area may also be subject to inspection. You may request a whiteboard and marker from the exam proctor, and some facilities will allow you to request paper and pencil. The full admission requirements and security procedures are outlined in the first steps of the exam scheduling process.

Online proctored exams – how does remote proctoring work?

This is an excellent way to take your cert exam and keep safe. You need to sign up for an exam at Pearson VUE —  they’re the organization that AWS has contracted to act as proctors. The main technical requirements are:

  • A Windows 8+ or MacOS 10.13+ computer with webcam, microphone, and headphones/speakers (sorry, no older Windows OS or Linux/Unix machines allowed).
  • A private and quiet location with no other people present.
  • A good internet connection with no extra security measures such as a VPN.

After the exam

After taking the exam, the system will immediately display your results on the screen. AWS uses a statistical method to determine if you pass, so there is no single passing score, and passing scores are subject to change. The best approach is to study as much as you can to achieve the highest possible score.

If you need to retake the exam, you will be eligible to do so after 14 days and can try as many times as you’d like — though you’ll need to pay the exam fee each time.

If you pass, congratulations! Within five days of passing your exam, you will receive an AWS Certified logo, e-certificate, and a digital badge in your AWS Certification Account. Digital badges may be used to share your status on LinkedIn, Facebook, and any social media sites. A transcript of your exam results will be available in your account within five business days of completing the exam.

Cloud Academy provides excellent preparation materials in AWS Learning Paths, Courses, Hands-on Labs, and quizzes (all at various levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced). The quizzes are optimized for standard and mobile use, so review when you have time. You can also check out our AWS certification page and see which certification track is right for you. Good luck!

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