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AWS Certified Sysops Administrator Associate (SOA-C02) Exam Experience

I recently took the new AWS Certified SysOps Administrator SOA-C02 exam last week via the Pearson Vue online proctoring.

There are a lot of recently introduced features and services that showed up in this new version which you should be aware of.

The new version included the new Exam Labs section in the test, which is unique among the other existing AWS certifications. If you’re planning to take this exam soon, read on.

At the beginning of the exam, I received a message regarding the number of questions in the multiple-choice and multiple-response sections, including the number of exam labs in the exam lab section.

I got 51 multiple choice and multiple answer questions including 3 exam labs.

The exam has a time limit of 180 minutes. I was advised at the beginning of the exam to allocate 20 mins for each exam lab which means I can finish the three exam labs in 60 minutes and I should allocate 120 minutes for the question part of the exam.

First Part (Multiple Choice and Multiple Answers)

For the first part, I got 51 questions. There is a significant amount of questions regarding automation and monitoring AWS cloud resources using services like CloudWatch, EventBridge, SNS, Config, and Systems Manager. In addition, there are other notable topics covered like setting up IAM permissions and credentials, data encryption for different AWS services, storage service features, VPCs, hybrid networks, DNS records, and CloudFormation.

I also encountered new topics like the EC2 Image Builder, RDS Proxy, Config aggregators, scaling in Elastisearch, CloudFormation custom resource, and EventBridge. And there are no questions related to Classic Load balancers anymore.

During the test, you are allowed to take notes for each question in the exam interface so I made sure to take notes on questions that I want to review later. I also used the drawing board provided by the exam interface to quickly draw a topology for some questions and get a clearer understanding of what’s required in the question.

Towards the end of the first part of the exam, I revisited the questions I flagged for review and read the notes I left when I previously analyzed the question.

Second Part (Exam Labs)

At this point, I was asked to review my answers before proceeding to the next step. I made sure to run through my answers once again before I proceed to the exam labs since you are not allowed to go back to the first part of the exam once you start taking the exam labs. After reviewing my answers, I had 90 minutes remaining to take the exam labs. I think it’s good to allocate more than 60 minutes for the exam labs just to avoid surprises if you get stuck.

In each exam lab, your screen will be divided into two parts. On the left side is like a remote desktop session where AWS Management Console is already opened on a browser with an account that AWS has provided. The right side contains the scenario and set of instructions that you have to implement for the exam lab. All the items required in the exam lab can be executed via the AWS Management Console so you don’t have to worry about memorizing all the configurations. But you need to have a solid understanding of AWS services covered in the exam and how to navigate through these services.

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On my exam, I was able to encounter exam labs that required me to use (1) Amazon CloudWatch metrics, (2) Auto Scaling group, and (3) AWS Backup. The instructions were straightforward. First, you are given a scenario to understand the requirement in general, and then follow a set of instructions. You can easily copy-paste data from the instructions if you need to supply it on the AWS Management Console.

I finished all instructions on each exam lab before deciding to move to the next one. You will NOT be able to return to a prior exam lab. You are allowed to use the virtual machine notepad. You can also use the AWS CLI while working on the exam labs but I did all of the labs using the AWS Management Console and it was enough.

Do check out our sample exam lab here.

sysops exam lab

I was using a laptop with 14 inches screen size during the exam and I had problems scrolling the right side of the screen which contains the AWS Management console. I would advise using a monitor with a bigger screen size when taking the exam so you won’t be bothered by this scrolling issue.

Based on my recent exam experience, we have updated our AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate Practice Exams to add more new and relevant scenario questions. I’ve also added two more exam lab scenarios to help our users better prepare for this new section of the SysOps exam.

sysops soa-c02 exam labs

Overall, I felt like the exam labs experience was quite manageable. The scenarios were not particularly difficult since the tasks can be accomplished via the AWS Management Console. Don’t forget to go through our comprehensive SysOps exam study guide for a more detailed list of services to focus on, whitepapers that you can use, common exam scenarios that you may encounter, and other helpful resources.

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Written by: Wayne Comendador

Wayne is a Google Cloud Certified Associate Cloud Engineer and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate. He is a full-stack web developer driven by his strong interest to continuously learn and take his skills to the next level. He is always eager to build his technical and professional foundation. As an educator in his previous work, his task was to train IT professionals who were interested in shifting their careers into software development.

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