We Polled AWS Solutions Architect Takers to Find Out How Long You Should Study Before Test Day

by Ross Heintzkill | Published on August 31, 2023

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate is an industry-leading certification for cloud professionals who need to demonstrate their proficiency with compute, networking, storage and database services in the AWS ecosystem. SAA-C03 is the certifying exam for the Solutions Architect Associate, and if you plan to earn it, you should know how long it takes to learn everything on the test.

CBT Nuggets surveyed hundreds of IT professionals who have taken the Solutions Architect Associate using Twitter, LinkedIn and a Google survey, asking them how long it took them to prepare for the certifying exam. We took the answers from 323 IT professionals and created this guide on how to prepare for the SAA-C03 as fast as possible.

How long did most people need to study for the Solutions Architect Associate?

SAA-C03 is the current certifying exam for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate, and the majority of respondents (55%) needed 3 months or less to study for it. But more than 20% needed 3 to 5 months, and another 20% needed more than 5 months.

The Solutions Architect exam focuses on working knowledge of cloud compute, networking, storage and database solutions. But it isn't about those cloud technologies in general: the exam emphasizes managing and configuring those services in the AWS ecosystem. Preparing for the Solutions Architect Associate isn't just a matter of knowing cloud management, it requires hands-on familiarity with the AWS dashboard, understanding what makes AWS services unique, and how they fit into billing accounts.

A quarter of all the people we surveyed said it took them less than 6 weeks to prepare for the Solutions Architect Associate exam. It's hard to believe those people didn't already have extensive experience with AWS specifically and cloud technologies generally. Especially since essentially the same number (22%) said it took more than 5 months to prepare for the Solutions Architect Associate exam. A spread that wide suggests that a key differentiator isn't how much they prepared, but the quality of materials that they studied with and how applicable their studies were to actually managing and configuring AWS cloud solutions in the real world.

How should you prepare ahead of taking AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate? 

Want to earn the AWS Solutions Architect in less than 5 months? The most important thing to have is a plan to follow, and then stick to it. Passing the SAA-C03 isn't just a matter of proving you memorized facts about AWS cloud solutions. You'll need to demonstrate real-world, practical familiarity with actually configuring and managing them. Your best bet is to find one resource that teaches all the information while also giving practical experience on actually being a Certified Solutions Architect.

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect online training from CBT Nuggets is a collection of hundreds of short videos that explain cloud solutions concepts and then give you plenty of opportunities for practical practice.

Tips to make sure you’re test-ready before Solutions Architect exam day:

There is a key to passing any AWS certification exam, and especially the Solutions Architect Associate exam. First: be able to actually do what's on the exam. Second: know what you'll find on the exam. And last: learn it all from real-world experts.

Use virtual labs

A virtual lab is essentially a recreation of a real-world computer network or environment. Essentially a computer sandbox, everything works exactly as it would in the real world, which means you can learn the practical skills by experimenting – experimenting in ways that would break a real-world cloud network. Since CBT Nuggets virtual labs let you try out skills and learn from mistakes in a safe and understandable way, they're a great way to shorten how long it'll take you to prepare for the Certified Solutions Architect Associate.

Test yourself using practice exams

If you want to take the Solutions Architect test as fast as possible, you need a way of knowing for certain which parts of the exam you're ready for and don't need to spend any more time on, and which parts you should keep working on. CBT Nuggets practice exams help you understand what will be on the SAA-C03 test, and how the questions will be asked. Using what you learn from taking them, you can confidently skip past sections you already know and spend your time learning the things you know you're not ready for.

Learn from the experts

In the end, passing the Solutions Architect Associate exam takes knowing the facts, and you need to be able to trust the person who teaches you. CBT Nuggets trainers are experts in their field and each of them have earned dozens of certifications. They know what's on the tests, and they know what works in the real-world. Learning from a CBT Nuggets trainer will shorten your prep time for the Solutions Architect Associate while also making sure you actually know how to do the work you're learning about.

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate is challenging: 22% of learners needed more than 5 months to prepare for it. But remember: 25% of people did it in less than 6 weeks. You can put yourself closer to the under-6 week group by preparing with practice exams to learn what to focus on, virtual labs to actually get your hands dirty with cloud management, and expert training to learn everything you need to know. A CBT Nuggets membership gives you all three – and not just for the Solutions Architect Associate: with a membership, you can watch any video from any course and practice any IT skill you want.

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