From knowing very little about cloud computing in general, I passed my AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (CCP) exam after 8 days of study. Find out how I accomplished this below.
What is my background? I'm relatively new to the tech industry, having started coding full-time at the end of last year through a full-stack coding bootcamp. As part of my final bootcamp project we used Firebase for Cloud Storage, and this piqued my curiosity for cloud services in general, so I was keen to delve into this more after my course.
Why AWS? Amazon Web Services (AWS) is very widely used in the industry, and in Q4 of 2019 held the largest market share amongst cloud infrastructure providers (Source), so I thought I'd start there!
Who is this exam for? Regardless of your current job or title, this foundational exam is suitable for anyone who has an interest in building overall knowledge and skills around the AWS Cloud. If you are currently working with AWS and have a base knowledge, you may be able to complete this exam in a shorter time span.
You can find details about the exam format and skills areas from Amazon.
Without re-inventing the wheel, find details about which resources I used below and how I managed my revision for the exam.
Play to your learning strengths
Play to your strengths in terms of how you learn best - I like to watch, write out my own notes and read them back for revision.
To prepare for the exam, I opened up a notebook on Gitbook and had pages for these areas: Cloud Computing - Overview, AWS Integrated Services, AWS Core Services, Technology Overview, AWS Global Infrastructure, Architecture, Security, Pricing and Support, and Q&A.
As I studied the different areas, I made notes on each of the pages that I would come back to later to read through.
Gaining an understanding
I started with going through this 6-hour video course: AWS Digital Training - AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials (Second Edition). As this is an official Amazon course, it was a great place to start and really gave me a broad overview of the key areas for the exam. BONUS: you receive a certificate of completion after this course, so you get a real sense of achievement!
I then worked through ExamPro's 4-hour CCP Training Full Course 2020 - a fantastic resource, and thanks to FreeCodeCamp this is completely ad-free for the whole 4 hours. Alongside this, I was also making notes in my Gitbook and screenshotting the overview slides which were really helpful for last-minute revision.
Though the above two videos were crucial to my success, they didn't cover all of the services which might appear on the exam. The questions can be finicky, so be sure to read the Overview of Amazon Web Services Whitepaper - absolutely essential to read (even at 95 pages long).
I wanted to gain some practical skills alongside my theoretical knowledge, so I started by creating an AWS account and had a play around with the AWS Management Console.
The aforementioned ExamPro course helped a lot with this too - as there are "follow along" sections, and before I knew it, I had created a budget with an alert, launched EC2 instances, created an auto-scaling group, an elastic load balancer, and added items to an S3 bucket.
Practice, practice, practice!
My Dad, and I'm sure many others before him, said "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail", and that stuck with me throughout this preparation. Once you have worked through gaining a base knowledge, you still need to go into the details and get lots of exam practice in!
To revise for the exam I went ahead and purchased 6 practice exams and responses. There are detailed explanations for both correct and incorrect responses following each exam, and it also shows you which areas you need to brush up on. I completed all of the exams, ensuring I reached 73% + in each.
I also worked through this short set of Amazon official sample questions.
Throughout any of the practice exams whenever I got an answer wrong, or wasn't sure about the answer, I added this to the Q&A section of my Gitbook notes. That way I could come back to the questions I struggled with whilst revising and quickly refresh myself.
On the days leading up to the exam I read the Overview of Amazon Web Services Whitepaper again, and filled any gaps by searching for helpful Youtube videos, such as this one on the AWS Shared Responsibility Model.
Here's a summary of all the resources I used, which were free (with the exception of the practice exam set on Udemy):
Whitepapers & AWS Website
Videos & Training
AWS Digital Training - AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials (Second Edition)
Exam Pro's 4-hour CCP Course
Selected videos from this AWS Products and Services official playlist
AWS Shared Responsibility Model - unofficial
Please get in touch with any further questions relating to my preparation for this course. I hope this answered 'How to pass the CCP exam in 2020'. Good luck for your exam!