So you’ve decided you want to get an AWS Certification. Congrats! Making that decision is a great first step. A lot of people spend weeks or months turning it over in their heads, afraid to commit. Getting a certification can lead to monumental changes in your career, but the pressure doesn’t end when you decide to go for it. One of the biggest questions people have is:

What if I fail my AWS certification exam?

I’m going to share something here that I don’t like talking about: I failed my fair share of exams in college. I’d study for days! I’d think I had the material down pat! But, when I’d turn to the first page on exam day, the whole thing looked like Greek. A lot of times these were physics exams, so to be fair, there were a lot of Greek letters, but that doesn’t make failure any easier to swallow.

Don’t Be Afraid of Failure

Fear can leave you paralyzed. Don’t let anxiety over whether you will pass your exam stop you from studying effectively. I know, easier said than done, right?

The reality is that plenty of people fail AWS certification exams. After all, they’re not easy. If they were, everyone would have one. The value in a certification comes from the fact that they are difficult to get. They show employers that you have a set of skills that others don’t. They’re meant to separate the people who have mastered AWS from the people who haven’t.

There’s a flip side to this, too. Plenty of people fail the exam and plenty of people pass it as well. The difference is whether you really know AWS. If you simply memorized a list of exam questions and answers, you’re probably going to have a difficult time. If you’ve studied each concept in depth and actually used the services, you stand a much better chance of passing. There’s nothing to be afraid of if you’re well-prepared.

“By Failing to Prepare, You Are Preparing to Fail.”

This is as true now as it was when Benjamin Franklin said it over two hundred years ago. If you don’t prepare, you are setting yourself up for failure.

But knowing how to prepare can be a challenge of its own. Online study materials for AWS certifications seem to be a dime-a-dozen and not all exam prep courses are created equal.

Here are a few things you can do in the weeks leading up to the exam:

  • Look at sample questions – The exam format can give you an idea of what to look for, not just in terms of content, but in how the questions are asked. You can get sample questions directly from AWS.
  • Find a study partner – Having someone to hold you accountable will force you to buckle down and review the materials, even when you don’t feel like doing it. AWS can be complex, so you can be sure that each of you will know something the other doesn’t.
  • Build something – Do you have a personal blog? A web application you built as a side project? Migrate it over to AWS. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn simply by using the platform and debugging whatever real issues you come across.

It’s important to do a little bit each day. Even if you only have 15 minutes, you can use that time to watch a video tutorial or read a whitepaper. When it comes to studying for something as difficult as an AWS certification, you simply cannot be overprepared.

Manage Your Stress

I know, I know. This goes against what I just said about using every spare minute to study, but you still need to find a balance.

Work-life balance is important and everyone needs a break. When you’re studying for an AWS certification, be sure to take breaks. It’s important to create a schedule and stick to it. That goes for the end of your schedule as well. If you plan to study for two hours, don’t stay up all night cramming material. When your two hours is up, go and do something you enjoy.

You can’t learn effectively if you’re under too much stress, so don’t let it consume you.

How Do I Know If I’m Ready?

What if you missed something? What if the exam asks about something you didn’t study for? Am I ready to become a Certified Solutions Architect?

First of all, take a deep breath (see above). These are things everyone worries about. The closer you get to the exam, the more likely you are to start doubting yourself. The exam will cover a huge variety of topics and you might be unsure of whether you covered everything you need to know.

Luckily, this is exactly what we specialize in. Linux Academy offers personalized training based on your learning needs. Here’s how it works: 

  1. You take a Challenge
  2. Our learning engine provides you with real-time feedback
  3. When you get your grade, you unlock more Learning Activities based on your performance

If you don’t pass a Challenge, you’ll get custom training based on the areas you need to work on. Rather than taking the exam and finding out the hard way that you forgot to study something, you can test your skills in a real environment that lets you know exactly what you need to brush up on.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though. You can try it for yourself for free.

…But What If I Still Fail?

We all agree that failure is a terrible feeling. But it happens to everyone. As I said, the AWS certification exams are meant to be hard and not everyone will pass on their first try… or their second try.

Success doesn’t come from avoiding failure. It comes when you learn from failure and use it to do better the next time. Even if you follow every tip and study every sample question, you still might not pass the exam. And that’s okay.

If you fail your AWS certification exam, try again. AWS does require that you wait 14 days before a retake, but you can use that time (and more if you need it) to round out your knowledge and fill in the areas you’re weak in. The important thing is to pick yourself back up, keep studying, and become the best Solutions Architect you can be.

One more thing… In case you were wondering. It took two tries, but I did finally pass my physics class. 🙂

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