What to Do If You Fail AWS Certification

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An AWS Certification can be a golden ticket in terms of career growth in the IT industry. This particular certification will help you to showcase your skills. Once you’ve completed and passed the test, you can use it to strengthen your case for a raise, new job, or promotion.

The certification options cover a wide variety of careers. From an AWS Cloud Architect to Cloud based Key Account Manager, it’ll open up a world of possibilities. However, before you can benefit from all the certification has to offer, you’ll have to pass the corresponding test first.

What to do if you fail AWS certification: study harder and take the test again in two weeks.

The test for any of the certifications will be given in the standard format. This means that you can expect to see multiple response options, direction questions, and multiple choice, among others. The test for the certification is timed, so be sure to time your practice and study sessions at home, too.

Depending on which level of certification you choose to go after, the tests will take anywhere from 80 to 170 minutes. Also depending on the level of certification chosen, the tests will cost between $150 and $300.

The plus side of failing an AWS certification test is that you can take it again, unlike many other tests. View this unfortunate experience as a learning opportunity and make sure you do better the next time. At even the Associate level, $150 per test will add up quickly.

What are the best ways to study for an AWS certification test?  

You can get an AWS certification in any of the following categories: cloud practitioner, architect, developer, operations, or a specialty path, which is divided into five subcategories. The tests and practice tests will be different, but the methods will remain the same.

The first step is to pick the category that you want to focus on. There’s nothing wrong with obtaining multiple AWS certifications, but you should pick one at a time so that you don’t get them mixed up.

Studying for a specialty path will only help if that’s what you’re going to use the certification for. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you can pick a broader category to study in and then take a more specific test. You can always go back later and take another test once you’ve aced the first one.

Once you’ve picked your category, start reading and practicing as soon as possible. Take practice tests with sample questions and untimed labs, take advantage of any (reputable) reading material you can find, and remember to time yourself during the practice tests. If it’s easier, take a few without timing yourself first so you can get into the flow. Once you’re more comfortable, you can turn on the timer.

You can also watch videos on the AWS YouTube channel if you’re a more visual studier. No matter what methods work best for you, try to write things down if you have the time. Scientific studies have shown that our brains are more likely to retain information that we physically have written down for ourselves. For whatever reason, it’s more effective if you write in blue ink, too.

What are some tips for staying on track when studying for an AWS certification?

Most of us are not lucky enough to be good test takers, but that’s okay. There are ways to get around the panic and procrastination that ensue when we know we have a test to face soon. Here are a few tried and true, reliable tips for staying on track:

  • Be realistic about how much time you’ll need to study
  • Break study sessions up into small chunks
  • Find someone to be your study buddy
  • Don’t skip anything in the study materials
  • Be prepared for test questions to be different than the practice test questions
  • Double check your work
  • Skip around on the actual test if you have to
  • Remember the process of elimination

Don’t make the mistake of booking the test too soon and then drowning in anxiety until the day comes. Things may come up and work schedules may change. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself by signing up to take the test in a really short period of time. Give yourself plenty of time to study before you have to go put what you’ve learned to good use.

Another common mistake is to try to study for long periods of time just to get it over with. We’re less likely to retain information when we don’t take breaks. Instead, set aside an hour or two each night to study. Stay consistent and don’t overdo it, more will stick this way.

When you have someone keeping you accountable, you’re more likely to stay motivated. If you work in this industry already, find a coworker that’s also studying for the test or one that has passed it already. Ask them questions, enlist their help, borrow their study materials; they’ll be happy to help and it will keep you on track. If you’re not in this industry yet or don’t have anyone who’s interested in the test, phone a friend instead. They can quiz you and time your practice runs.

It’s tempting when you’re studying to skip over something confusing and promise yourself that you’ll come back to it later. The problem is that we often never come back to it. Almost as often, that section that you skipped will be the first question on the test. Be patient and work through it, it’ll be worth it later.

Don’t expect to see some of the same questions from the practice test on the real test. This may have happened on occasion in high school and college, but it won’t happen here. That’s why it’s so important to read all that you can and take multiple practice tests. Keep your mind sharp and ready to think outside of the box.

When you’re done with the test, don’t submit it just yet. Once you submit, you can’t take it back. If you have enough time, go back through the questions to make sure you’re confident with the answers. Even if you know you got every question right, you may have clicked slightly off your mark and chosen a wrong answer instead.

I know I said not to skip anything when you were studying but when it comes to the actual test, skipping around is okay. Just don’t forget to come back to it later. Skipping ahead when you feel stumped can help you. Your brain has a chance to focus on something else and you may return to find that the answer was obvious and you were just experiencing a temporary block.

When we were young, we learned about the process of elimination. Many of us forget about this as we get older and stop taking tests all the time. This is mostly for the multiple-choice questions but it can be effective for other ones, too. When the options are all similar, take a minute to think. Read the question again. Read it two or three times more, look for key words, and eliminate anything that you know probably isn’t the right answer. 

Where can I find study materials and practice tests?

One of the great things about Amazon is that they really want to see people succeed. When you schedule your AWS Certification exam through their website, they will provide you with exam guides, sample questions to answer, and other resources to get you ready.

Even before you schedule your test, you can find tons of helpful materials right on their website. You can download the sample questions and exam guides, read through frequently asked questions in different certification categories, and take practice tests when you’re ready.

You can also explore the different AWS learning path options before you make your decision. They’re broken down into the follow sections to make everything easier to find: foundational level AWS certification, associate level AWS certification, professional level AWS certification, and specialty AWS certification. Their website is easy to navigate and overflowing with helpful information.  

Outside of Amazon, you can find tons of study materials at some other very reputable companies. For example, Linux Academy, Whizlabs, and A Cloud Guru all offer comprehensive study resources. These will range from books and practice tests to videos and practice quizzes. You will have to pay for most of them, but some of the websites offer free trials to get you started.



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