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  • Writer's pictureNompumelelo Sibiya

AWS Certification Unlocked: Pursuing Data Analytics Dreams

I am thrilled to share that I've recently passed the AWS Certified Data Analytics Specialty exam. This achievement represents a significant milestone in my journey as a data professional whose current focus is on cloud-based data analytics. In this article, I briefly share my journey of preparing for and passing this specialty exam and the hopes I have for my new baby (AKA certificate). I hope that my insights convince you to embark on your AWS journey and prove valuable to your preparation this exam.

Practice makes perfect!

It goes without saying that passing this exam is almost impossible without proper practice. Even if you have worked with the AWS toolset to some extent, the exam demands extensive and in-depth knowledge which is gained only through preparation.

Furthermore, having several years of overall experience in data analytics is beneficial. Ideally, this shouldn't be your initial AWS exam attempt. While there are individuals who managed to successfully pass this exam as their first AWS certification, it'd be a bit like opting to obtain your first driver's license in a double-decker bus: unnecessarily challenging. (I am speaking from experience: I had multiple intakes before successfully bagging it!)

AWS Certified Data Analytics Specialty exam: The best preparation course

The preparation course I took and would recommend to everyone is Udemy's AWS Certified Data Analytics Specialty 2023 - Hands On by Stephane Maarek and Frank Kane.

A few reasons why this course is incredibly helpful:

  • Instructors teaching covers exam content and practical AWS application which in return makes the studying enjoyable.

  • Whilst there is a lot (a LOT) of knowledge to cover with almost 17 hours of video lectures, both instructors provide hands-on exercises for almost every single AWS service in scope of this exam This helps retain the knowledge and see how it is used in real life.

  • The course is frequently updated with new content and notes, addressing changes.

  • Clear guidance on avoiding AWS charges during exercises.

  • Practice exam included in the course.


A few tips that worked for me whilst preparing for the exam

  • It took me about 5 weeks of dedicated time to prepare for the exam. (While I've been 'on the bench', I made the most of my time, dedicating 4 - 6 hours per day, excluding weekends.)

  • The study demanded intense concentration; it's not the type of course suitable for casual viewing while making breakfast! It is important to set aside uninterrupted time for studying.

  • Because of the extensive amount of information, I discovered that I could effectively absorb no more than 3-4 hours of video content and hands-on exercises daily, and I certainly revisited certain lectures multiple times.

  • I wouldn’t recommend this, but I did I told a few people that I am undertaking this course so they could hold me accountable.

  • Practice exams are an absolute necessity. Skipping them would greatly jeopardise your passing chances. Each of the three Udemy exam courses provides comprehensive explanations for why correct choices are right and incorrect choices are wrong. The authors even include links to their answers with official AWS documentation. I did three full practice exams.


Useful things once you are in the exam room

  • The exam comprises 65 questions. If you come across a challenging question, flag it for later review and proceed. There were a few questions I had to make a random guess due to insufficient knowledge to be able to tell the difference in answer options presented to me. In such cases, I relied on my guessing experience; there's no negative marking or penalty.

  • Develop a deep understanding of the integration among key services. Recognize which services communicate directly and which rely on intermediaries like Lambda.

  • Thoroughly read the questions. Take the time to read them twice - or even three times. The questions are based on scenarios, requiring a clear understanding of the scenario before selecting solution choices.

  • Many questions use distractors to divert your attention. Among the answer choices, one may seem highly suitable but not entirely relevant to the scenario. Even though it might be tempting to pick it, DON’T DO IT. Instead, read the question carefully and analyse the question's details.


New certification = new career chapter

As for me, I am excited to unlock a new phase of my career with this certification. My aspirations include contributing significantly to our clients' data analytics endeavors. I hope to leverage the skills and knowledge gained from this certification to design and support innovative data solutions that drive informed decision-making for clients. Furthermore, I look forward to collaborating with fellow data professionals, exchanging insights, and continually staying updated on the latest developments in the field.

Stepping stones on your AWS journey

If you're considering starting your own AWS journey, I encourage you to take a moment to dive into my reflections above. These shared tips are like stepping stones that provide a bit of guidance towards success in your pursuit of AWS toolset.

Your AWS journey begins here—let's embark on it together!

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