AWS Certified Developer Associate (CDA) Exam Experience & Tips

The information bellow covers my experience for the AWS Certified Developer Associate (CDA) exam from Amazon. Following this I will post a list of my study materials, so keep checking back for updates or check out my Index of AWS Posts.

Before you continue reading, I would first just say that this is my second AWS exam, having completed the AWS Certified Solution Architect Associate exam earlier this year. As such the materials I used to study towards the exam are more sparse, due to the level of knowledge I already have.

For a really full picture of all of the materials I’ve used over the last 12 months, I highly recommend you check out the Certified Solution Architect Associate exam experience and the Certified Solution Architect Associate study guides, along with a number of tips, tricks and gotchas I have posted over the past few months. I also did a podcast recently with Scott Lowe on the subject of learning AWS. If you are new to AWS, I highly recommend you check it out!

AWS Certified Developer Associate CDA Full Stack Journey

Certified Developer Associate Exam Experience

My personal experience of the AWS Certified Developer Associate exam was that it was quite a bit easier than the Solution Architect Associate exam. Now, I don’t know whether this is more because I have been doing quite a bit of AWS work, as well as writing about it quite a bit in the months since I passed the CSA, or if this was down to the exam being genuinely easier. Most likely a combination of the two, as many people seem to rate the three exams as Developer, Solutions Architect, then SysOps Associate in increasing difficulty.

Either way the exam itself was actually very reasonable if you have any experience working with AWS. The way that AWS seem to structure their exams, is with some general questions across their portfolio, then specific technologies taking precedence in each. The developer exam was no different; there is definitely a distinct bias towards DynamoDB, S3, SQS and authentication. All the things which AWS Developers are likely to use when building distributed and highly scalable applications of course!

It is worth noting that AWS do not expect you to be a developer to pass the exam. You don’t need to know how to code in any language or similar. It would be useful for you to understand the basic format of JSON, but again this isn’t critical to pass the exam. If you want to work hands on with any of the AWS tooling in real life however, this is pretty critical!

The exam itself is 80 minutes and 55 questions. Again AWS (as is their way) do some odd things like not giving you a passing grade requirement, but it’s generally safe to assume that if you get 70% or more, in the Certified Developer Associate exam then you will pass. The Kryterion exam environment is frankly a little poor / dated, but I already wrote about that in the CSA guide here, so I won’t repeat myself again! Suffice to say, read the other article for a detailed overview.

There’s not a huge amount of advice I can give regarding the exam itself, other than if you are stuck, go with your gut. Believe it or not, the most obvious answer is often the actual answer! Don’t second guess yourself and say “No way it couldn’t be that simple!”.AWS Certified Developer Associate CDA Gut Feeling

Things like the specific API syntax used by AWS is generally quite logical, however there are a few weird things! For example, the read commands GetItem and BatchGetItem match syntax with eachother and are logical, but the write equivalents, PutItem and BatchWriteItem, do not! Knowing these types of little weird things can potentially help you come exam time so make sure you memorise some of the more common API calls.

It is also very worthwhile practicing your DynamoDB maths, as AWS expect you to be able to do this in your head. Memorising and practicing Ryan’s simple method really helped me to get my head around it.

Finally, if there is one thing I recommend you read, it’s the DynamoDB FAQ. This is a goldmine of information that will stand you in good stead for both the exam, and developing solutions on AWS!

Best of luck, and if you found this article useful, please leave a comment below! 🙂

Want to Learn More?

For part 2 of this article, the AWS Certified Developer Associate exam study guide and materials, see here:

AWS Certified Developer Associate (CDA) Exam Study Guide and Materials

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