Passing the AWS Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C02 On A Budget

AWS Solutions Architect Associate

Minutes turned to hours, hours turned to days and days to turned to months.. 3 to be precise, and I loved every minute of it! Late last week I was able to pass the popular, AWS Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C02 exam.

Now before we dive into this article, I just want to say, I’m in no way affiliated with any of the people or products listed. This is purely an honest review of what I found to be the best learning material to pass this exam.

Let’s dive in…

AWS SAA-C02 Exam

The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam (SAA-C02) consists of 65 questions and you have 130 minutes to complete the exam. This roughly gives you an average of just over 2 minutes per question.

Cost of the exam is $150 USD and you require a passing mark of 720 out of 1000. Exam questions are weighted meaning, some questions score higher than others. Don’t think of the pass mark as 72%.

In addition to the scoring system, the exam also contains about 15 unscored questions. These questions are used by AWS to determine if they are to be used in future exams.

Unscored questions are not identified during the exam, however, if they are ridiculously hard then they are probably the ones 🙂

It’s important to note that with the exam you can go back to previous questions and also mark them for review. Marked questions can be reviewed at the end of the exam.

Here is a link to the AWS Solutions Arhictect Assocaite SAA-C02 Exam Guide:

Booking the exam is done via the following link

Once logged in you can choose to book your exam with Pearson Vue or PSI

AWS Solutions Architect Associate

AWS SAA-C02 Study

The recommendation from AWS is that you have at least 1 year’s experience working with AWS. I guess you can take that with a grain of salt. With that being said, yes, it helps to have that 1 year under your belt, but it’s not impossible to pass it in under a year. Depends on how much time you are willing to dedicate and what background experience you have.

If you work with databases, you may find the sections on RDS, Aurora, DynamoDB, etc quite easy. If you work in virtualization, you may find EC2 easy. And lastly, if you have a background in networking, you may find the VPC component quite easy. Your previous IT experience can be extremely beneficial in starting off your AWS journey.

Before attempting to sit this exam, I attended 4 different AWS Associate Architect courses. One was within a classroom, basically following the AWS training curriculum, one 3 day BootCamp, and 2 online courses.

For me, it’s important that the instructor is enthusiastic, shares a passion for the subject, and has real-world experience.

Instructor-led live classrooms, whether it be within the classroom or online are great. However, they do lack the capability of pausing the content or rewinding if you miss something (unless they are recorded). In saying that, my favorite learning is online pre-recorded, where I can learn at my own pace, pause the content, and rewind/replay if I have a need to.

In the 3-day boot camp, the instructor was awesome, really knew his stuff, and was extremely passionate about AWS. However, at the end of the course, he did tell us that “a 3-day boot camp is not going to be enough to pass the SAA-C02 exam”.

The exam covers such a wide variety of services, that it’s virtually impossible to cover that much content in 3 days.

AWS Solutions Architect Assoicate Course

The online course that the instructor highly recommended, if we are serious about passing the exam, was Adrian Cantrill’s AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate course.

AWS Solutions Architect Associate

For $40 USD, you have an entire AWS Solutions Architect Associate course with hours of content ranging from theory, labs (real-world scenarios), and practice questions.

What I love about this course is the way Adrian delivers the content. Whether you are a complete beginner or you have experience with AWS, you will highly benefit from this course.

Each module is well explained, with multiple animated slides for the theory and ending with a well-crafted lab which you can easily follow along to.

Adrian’s enthusiasm for AWS makes the course very enjoyable and in my opinion, is 1 of the best courses out there.

These labs, have you build and improve on the Animals4Life organization. Starting out basic and quite monolithic, but ending the course with a highly scalable, highly redundant, website that is deployed automatically using CloudFormation.

The training platform keeps track of your progress. It shows you by way of percentage how far you are into the course. It also allows you to change the video speed from 0.5x to 2x speed.

AWS Solutions Architect Associate

The following AWS content domains are all covered extremely well within the course:

  • Domain 1: Design Resilient Architectures
  • Domain 2: Design High-Performing Architectures
  • Domain 3: Design Secure Applications and Architectures
  • Domain 4: Design Cose-Optimized Architectures

AWS SAA-C02 Practise Questions

Once you complete Adrian’s course it’s time to ‘really test’ your knowledge.

He advises to head on over to and buy the practice questions for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C02 exam. At the time of writing, it costs around $14 USD to purchase.

These questions are quite tough, harder than the actual exam. If you’re scoring around 60%+ on these questions you should have no problem passing the real exam.

What I love about Tutorialsdojo is that each question has a deep explanation of the answer. In addition to the correct answer, they also explain why the other answers are wrong.

There were quite a few practice questions I got wrong during my time here. With each wrong question, I used the summary to understand why it was wrong and was able to further my knowledge of the technology or service.

Over time, I developed an understanding of how the questions are being asked, what keywords to look out for and to read each question carefully. There are the odd 1 or 2 trick questions. i.e. Which service is NOT… vs Which service is…

You have 5 options for the practice questions:

  • Timed Mode: You have around 65 questions and 2hrs 10mins to complete
  • Review Mode: You have around 65 questions with no time limit
  • Section Based: You have around 30 questions with each section based on the 4 domains listed above
  • Topic Based: Pick and topic and attempt the sections. Such as VPC, EC2, IAM, S3, EBS, SQS, etc
  • Final Test: 65 multiple choice and multi select questions with a 2hr and 10mins time limit
  • Bonus Section Flashcards: Diagrams, Tables and screen shots, to help memorize important topics
AWS Solutions Architect Associate

AWS SAA-C02 Summary

In summary, for $204 USD, you are able to pass the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam. I honestly believe you will enjoy Adrian’s course, just as I did, bundled with the Tutorialsdojo practice questions.

So much so, that Adrian offers a 30-day money-back guarantee!

Best of luck with your study and with the exam!

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