AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Feb 2018 Exam Learning Path

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AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Feb 2018 Exam Learning Path

AWS Solutions Architect – Associate Feb 2018 exam is the latest AWS exam and would replace the old CSA-Associate exam. It basically validates the ability to effectively demonstrate knowledge of how to architect and deploy secure and robust applications on AWS technologies

  • Define a solution using architectural design principles based on customer requirements.
  • Provide implementation guidance based on best practices to the organization throughout the life cycle of the project.

Refer AWS_Solution_Architect_-_Associate_Feb_2018_Exam_Blue_Print

AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate February 2018

AWS Solutions Architect – Associate (Feb 2018) Exam Summary

  • AWS has updated the exam concepts from the focus being on individual services to more building of scalable, highly available, cost-effective, performant, resilient and operational effective architecture
  • Although, most of the services covered by the the old exam are the same. There are few new additions like API Gateway, Lambda, ECS, Aurora
  • Exam surely covers the architecture aspects in deep, so you must be able to visualize the architecture, even draw them out in the exam just to understand how it would work and how different services relate.
  • Be sure to cover the following topics
    • Networking
      • Be sure to create VPC from scratch. This is mandatory.
        • Create VPC and understand whats an CIDR.
        • Create public and private subnets, configure proper routes, security groups, NACLs.
        • Create Bastion for communication with instances
        • Create NAT Gateway or Instances for instances in private subnets to interact with internet
        • Create two tier architecture with application in public and database in private subnets
        • Create three tier architecture with web servers in public, application and database servers in private.
        • Make sure to understand how the communication happens between Internet, Public subnets, Private subnets, NAT, Bastion etc.
      • Understand VPC endpoints and what services it can help interact
      • Understand difference between NAT Gateway and NAT Instance
      • Understand how NAT high availability can be achieved
      • Understand CloudFront as CDN and the static and dynamic caching it provides, what can be its origin (it can point to on-premises sources)
      • Understand Route 53 for routing, health checks and various routing policies it provides and their use cases mainly for high availability
      • Be sure to cover ELB in deep. AWS has introduced ALB and NLB and there are lot of questions on ALB
      • Understand ALB features with its ability for content based and URL based routing with support for dynamic port mapping with ECS
    • Storage
      • Understand various storage options S3, EBS, Instance store, EFS, Glacier and what are the use cases and anti patterns for each
      • Would recommend referring Storage Options whitepaper, although a bit dated 90% still holds right
      • Understand various EBS volume types and their use cases in terms of IOPS and throughput. SSD for IOPS and HDD for throughput
      • Understand Burst performance and I/O credits to handle occasional peaks
      • Understand S3 features like different storage classes with lifecycle policies, static website hosting, versioning, Pre-Signed URLs for both upload and download, CORS
      • Understand Glacier as an archival storage with various retrieval patterns
      • Glacier Expedited retrieval now allows object retrieval within mins
      • Understand Storage gateway and its different types
    • Compute
      • Understand EC2 as a whole
      • Understand Auto Scaling and ELB, how they work together to provide High Available and Scalable solution
      • Understand EC2 various purchase types – Reserved, On-demand and Spot and their use cases
      • Understand Reserved purchase types with the introduction of Scheduled and Convertible types
      • Understand Lambda and serverless architecture, its features and use cases. How do you benefit from Lambda?
      • Understand ECS with its ability to deploy containers and micro services architecture
      • Know Elastic Beanstalk at a high level, what it provides and its ability to get an application running quickly
    • Databases
      • Understand relational and NoSQLs data storage options which include RDS, DynamoDB, Aurora and their use cases
      • Aurora has been added to the exam and most of time the questions refer to Aurora given its abilities for multiple read replicas and replication of data across AZs
      • Understand S3 is not a storage option for database
      • Understand RDS features – Read Replicas for scalability, Multi-AZ for High Availability, Automated Backups, underlying volume types
      • Understand DynamoDB with its low latency performance, DAX
      • Understand DynamoDB provisioned throughput for Read/Writes
      • Know ElastiCache use cases, mainly for caching performance
    • Analytics
      • Not much in deep, but understand what the services are and what they can do
      • Understand Redshift as a business intelligence tool
      • Know Kinesis for real time data capture and analytics
      • Atleast know what AWS Glue does, so you can eliminate the answer
    • Security
      • Understand IAM as a whole
      • Focus on IAM role and its use case especially with EC2 instance
      • Understand IAM identity providers and federation and use cases
      • Understand MFA and How would implement two factor authentication for your application
      • Understand encryption services
      • Refer Disaster Recovery whitepaper, be sure you know the different recovery types with impact on RTO/RPO.
    • Management Tools
      • Understand CloudWatch monitoring to provide operational transparency
      • Know which EC2 metrics it can track. Remember, it cannot track memory and disk space/swap utilization
      • Understand CloudWatch is extendable with custom metrics
      • Understand CloudTrail for Audit
      • Have a basic understanding of CloudFormation, OpsWorks
    • Integration Tools
      • Understand SQS as message queuing service and SNS as pub/sub notification service
      • Understand SQS features like visibility, long poll vs short poll
      • Focus on SQS as a decoupling service
      • AWS has released SQS FIFO, make sure you know the differences between standard and FIFO

NOTE: I have just marked the topics inline with the AWS Exam Blue Print. So be sure to check the same, as it is updated regularly and go through Whitepapers, FAQs and Re-Invent videos.

AWS Solutions Architect – Associate (Feb 2018) Exam Resources

AWS Cloud Computing Whitepapers

AWS Solutions Architect – Associate Exam Contents

Domain 1: Design Resilient Architectures

  1. Choose reliable/resilient storage.
  2. Determine how to design decoupling mechanisms using AWS services.
  3. Determine how to design a multi-tier architecture solution.
  4. Determine how to design high availability and/or fault tolerant architectures.

Domain 2: Define Performant Architectures

  1. Choose performant storage and databases.
  2. Apply caching to improve performance.
  3. Design solutions for elasticity and scalability.

Domain 3: Specify Secure Applications and Architectures

  1. Determine how to secure application tiers.
  2. Determine how to secure data.
  3. Define the networking infrastructure for a single VPC application.

Domain 4: Design Cost-Optimized Architectures

  1. Determine how to design cost-optimized storage.
  2. Determine how to design cost-optimized compute.

Domain 5: Define Operationally-Excellent Architectures

  1. Choose design features in solutions that enable operational excellence.


80 thoughts on “AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Feb 2018 Exam Learning Path

    1. Go for the newer one, only reason being the services and features covered in the new exam are latest for e.g. Lambda, ALB, ECS, API Gateway and the questions are more at the level for Solution Architect rather a bit of developer as was for the last exam.

  1. Hi Jayendra,

    I have just passed my SAA (Feb 2018) exam. I have been reading a lot on this blog during my preparation for the SAA exam, and I can definitely recommend this site to my friends who are studying for AWS certification.

    Following are some topics that I have seen in my exam:
    Disk utilisation metrics on Unix and Windows
    VPC Cloud watch metrics
    Amazon DynamoDB Accelerator (DAX)

      1. Hi David, Congratulations on passing your exam.

        Jayendra, One of my friends suggested your site. Happy to see its well organized and maintained. Definitely helps students like me.

        This question goes out to you both; I intend to take up this exam and wanted to know how long it took to get your results? I guess the earlier Beta took almost 3 months. Hopefully that is not the case anymore and you did get the results soon after the exam.


  2. Great article Jayendra, I regularly follow your blog. I am preparing for aws certificates, and really your post has given em good insiights. Keep writing such good posts.

  3. I would like to thank you Mr Jayendra Patil and your blog for enable be to clear the AWS Solution Architect Feb 2018 exams last week. The topics covered here and the sample questions gave me an insight to the assessment objectives. While I read the various whitepapers and material available on the aws training site, the content here really helped me focus on the key learning areas.
    Thank you once again. Please do keep up the good work

  4. Hi Jayendra, I cleared the SAA exam (Feb 2018 release). I come from a Network background so concepts on storage, compute, database are new to me. Your blogs has helped me in not only understanding AWS but also how all these components operate in a DC environment. The exam had a lot of questions on Database, API, Lambda.There were questions on VPC and EC2 as well. Happy to have achieved a non networking certification. Thanks for helping me.

  5. Sir, I am done with preparation. I am not 100% confident on Scenario based questions. If its DIFFICULT level which format is better OLD one or NEW one?…I am planning to take OLD one as I am prepared that pattern

  6. Jayendra Sir,

    could you pleae tell me correct answer for this

    Which technique can be used to integrate AWS IAM (Identity and Access Management) with an on-premise LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) directory service?

    A. Use an IAM policy that references the LDAP account identifiers and the AWS credentials.
    B. Use SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) to enable single sign-on between AWS and LDAP.
    C. Use AWS Security Token Service from an identity broker to issue short-lived AWS credentials.
    D. Use IAM roles to automatically rotate the IAM credentials when LDAP credentials are updated.
    E. Use the LDAP credentials to restrict a group of users from launching specific EC2 instance types

    Your security team requires each Amazon ECS task to have an IAM policy that limits the task’s privileges to only those required for its use of AWS services.
    How can you achieve this?
    A. Use IAM roles for Amazon ECS tasks to associate a specific IAM role with each ECS definition.
    B. Use IAM roles on the Amazon ECS container instances to associate IAM roles with each ECS task on that instance.
    C. Connect to each running Amazon ECS container instance and add discrete credentials.
    D. Root each Amazon ECS task programmatically to generate new instance metadata for each task.

  7. Hi Jayendra,

    I have been studying for a few weeks after taking a acloudguru course on the solutions architect associate. I took the practice exam but failed with a 60%. Here are the results:

    Topic Level Scoring:
    1.0  Design Resilient Architectures: 88%
    2.0  Define Performant Architectures: 42%
    3.0  Specify Secure Applications and Architectures: 33%
    4.0  Design Cost-Optimized Architectures: 50%
    5.0  Define Operationally-Excellent Architectures: 100%

    Do you have suggestions for what I should focus my studying on? It’s SO MUCH information!

    Thank you.

    1. A Cloud Guru Course is not enough to clear the exams. The topics covered in the new exam and varied and detailed. Concentrate on the weaker areas. Follow the learning path, do the practice exams, go through the documentation and FAQs and you should be good to clear the exams.

  8. Sir, I am planning to take this exam(OLD) format.Gone through your blog. Need to prepare practice tests. Could you please help me with Questions or any coupan codes for me to enroll

  9. Just an FYI, I’m not sure if you meant to use the same link for ELB and ALB above. The “ELB” link in the first sentence takes you to the ALB blog entry. I was able to go through tags and find the blog about ELB so I’m not sure if you meant to use that link for that first hyperlink (

    “Be sure to cover ELB in deep. AWS has introduced ALB and NLB and there are lot of questions on ALB”

  10. I have recently cleared the SAA Feb 2018 exam with 88.9 % . I read through the blogs a lot during final weeks of my preparation for the SAA exam. These are very helpful for the preparation and attempting exam. Thanks a lot Jayendra for your blogs and updating them with the changes or additions happening in the AWS services. Really commendable !!

    1. Hi Hitesh – Could you please guide me, After my preparation when i took practise test.. I felt difficulty in Scenario based Questions…
      NEW FORMAT is having more scenario based Qs than OLD Format…

      Which one you feel easier? Thanks in adavnce…

      1. Both the exams are scenario based. However the scenarios are not that complex. If you have not booked the exam, go for the NEW format as it covers the latest services and enhancements.

      2. Hi Arjun,

        I have not much idea about old format as I directly gave the new format SAA Feb 2018 exam and yes most of the questions are scenario based in it.


  11. Thanks a lot, Jayendrapatil for provide such useful information to passed the SAA exam by today I will for sure unable passed the exam without access to your blog.

    You’re the best and you’re the man!!!

  12. Hi Jayendra, all

    I passed the exam on last July with 789. I have to say I was preparing the exam for three months reading a lot of documentation, white-papers, FAQS and doing several labs and even like that, the exam resulted difficult for me, even when doing practice tests I only failed one or two questions.

    The majority of questions on the new exam are scenario-based questions. Every question, for the most part, will make you think through AWS concepts. One advise from my side for new students is to have clear all the services from AWS and then, don’t over-think too much the questions on the exam and take the first answer it sound reasonable for you and why the other answers could be incorrect or you will lose a lot of time in every question and you will get nervous because I even forgot my name during the exam..hahaha

    The questions come from a pool of questions so there is no way of knowing which subjects will be on the exam. In any case, these were the services I got questions in my exam:

    ELB & ALB
    NAT Gateway
    RDS (Aurora)
    Security Groups + ACLS
    S3 + SSE-C + SSE-S3 + SS3-KMS
    Route53 – zone apex DNS (alias)
    ASG (Fault tolerant + Scheduled)
    Redshift (encryption)
    EBS + Instance Store
    Storage Gateway
    VPN concepts
    Gateway API

    All the best and thanks a lot for these great documentation,

  13. Hi

    I am having aws certified solution architect associate exam on 30 august
    Can you please help me out, is it possible to prepare within 20 days as I am not having much knowledge about aws. And how should I prepare????

  14. HI Jayendra,

    I am practising papers in whiz labs, is these are sufficient or i need anyother please let me know.

    1. Haven’t checked on whizlabs, but have good feedback for latest exams for Braincert from other users.

  15. Don’t completely depend on Whiz labs..the actual exam is completely on scenario based and you need to think and apply the concepts and have to answer.

  16. Hi Jayendra,
    I cleared SAA exam with 789/1000 with the help of your blog and question set .after reading your blogs my all confusion was cleared and i have recommended my all friend to read your blogs.I have taken acloudguru ,LinuxAcdemy but they are not sufficient .Great work and efforts done by you ,many many thanks

  17. Hi Jayendra, Thanks for your very valuable site. I was recommended this site by a friend who’d scored 100 % in AWS last year. You are indeed doing a service to us people.

    Now, this has reference to the Networking part that you mentioned above — is there any resource which covers VPC, CIDR in detail

  18. Hi Jayendra,

    Many thanks to your valuable site. It has very useful tips. I started with ACloudGuru’s course which has good lab exercises and useful. That was not enough as you mentioned.

    I crash coursed Eissa’s DolfinEd course on Udemy and took Jon Bonso’s practice exams.

    It was a good boost and I was able to give my exam confidently and got 886.

    Thanks for taking the time to offer advice to the community. You are a hero man. I landed on your site by chance, should thank fate too 🙂

    Best regards,

  19. Hi Anurag/Jayendra-
    1. For new pattern, Could you please help with main topics, And preparation flow…That helps..

    Are Questions coming from Whizlabs/braincert? How should i know i am good to take exam

    Thanks in adavance

    1. Pattern and topics are listed in the post and are pretty much covered in the exam. So be sure to cover them. I have good feedback for Braincert exams for the coverage for the latest exams.

  20. Hi Jayendra,
    Thanks for this wonderful blog. I need to get my recertify for AWS SA Architect. Which pattern should I follow for this.

    1. Instead of re-certifying Associate, i would recommend going for Professional. You might have received a 50% coupon if your certificate is expiring, so the cost would be the same. Else, Feb 2018 is the only option now, so you can prepare for it.

  21. Hi – My background is 10+years in QA. Though i am aware of AWS concepts and are now going through free videos of AWS Essentials in Linux Academy-You tube. could you suggest on ways to get Solution Architect Associate certified with no background on code deployment or networks.
    kindly suggest on Linux Academy as well as i am not sure if its for someone with no background as its quite expensive

  22. Hi Jayendra,

    Passed the exam with 90 percentage. Thanks for supporting..This is really good forum. I am suggesting my friends who are all preparing for exam.

    I need to stop the specific instance on specific time. Is it possible?

    I do not want use CloudWatch Alaram to stop the instance.

  23. Congrats Klakston—
    Could you please explain how the exam was, I am planning this month.

    What all main topics needs to be focused…
    What is flow of preparation needed…
    Any questions banks available..

    Appraciate ur time

  24. Hi Jayendra –

    You covered many scenario based question after every topic, Is that enough for taking exam?

    Or still i have to go through some practise test.

    1. They are good, but do not cover the latest services ones. You can try the Braincert practice tests, they have a good coverage.

  25. Hi Jayendra,

    I am planning to take up AWS Architect Associate certification. Which one is the best for practice exam on Braincert or Whizlabs? Just saw random review comments on ‘Whizlabs’ that’s also good. Please suggest for sure to pass the exam.

  26. I’m planning to take the Associate architect exam (new format) in couple of weeks.
    I have few questions. Any help/info appreciated . Thanks.

    How many total questions will be asked ?

    Each question same score weightage ?

    #Total 1000 points.. and 720 points required to pass – is that correct ?
    #What’s the time duration to complete the exam ?
    #What’s the ratio of scenario vs easy quick answer questions in the new format ?
    #Any scenario questions in exam match close to what we see in Jayendra blog ?
    #What topics are focused and frequently appears in exam ?

    1. This jayendrapatil blog is very useful and thorough. Also I am taking braincert quiz which is also very good. Any any info on the above questions regarding exam is appreciated. I am planning to take exam in next 2 weeks. Thanks.

  27. Hi Jayendra,

    I have need an answer for this below question.

    I am confused between option “a” and “c” , as both look much similar,
    I would go for option “c” as it looks more convincing but want to know the exact answer.

    Q. You have EC2 instances sitting behind the ELB, You need 4 instances always to be available,
    How would you place them in a most cost effective way?

    a) 4 in AZ-a , 4 in AZ-b and none in AZ-c
    b) 2 in AZ-a, 2 in AZ-b and 4 in AZ-c
    c) 2 in AZ-a, 2 in AZ-b and 2 in AZ-c
    d) 4 in AZ-a ,2 in AZ-b and 2 in AZ-c

    1. Cost effective way is the key as option a. you would have 8 instance running, while with option c. you would have 6 instances running, satisfying the criteria of 4 instances always available.

    2. Also, adding to the Jayendra’s point- Even if one instance is down you will have 4 instances always available.

  28. Hi Jayendra,
    I am bit late to find out about your blog, I appeared on SAA test recently and failed 698 🙁
    I did all wizlabs tests twice and cloudguru training but couldnt make it.

    Can you pelase advise what I should focus on or shall I try for Cloud practitioner, as I have lost my confident that I can pass the test again.

    Appreciate your time and response.

    1. You need to go through the topics and services mentioned in the learning path and make sure you understand the concepts. I have tried to cover all of them that I saw on the exam.
      Haven’t check Whizlabs for new exam, but Braincert Exams feedback has been quite good, so I would recommend those.
      Would not recommend giving Cloud Practitioner as you have already prepared for CSA.

  29. Hi Sir,

    Now I’m a mean stack developer. I would like to learn and place the AWS solution Architect. So What are the skills should I know before learning AWS solution Architect? Please guide me.

    1. I don’t think there are any pre-requisites. There is no need for any language or platform. You should be able to start on AWS and pick up everything.

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