How I Passed All AWS Professional Exams Without Hands-On

So, your goal is to pass the AWS Professional-level exams but you’re short on time to do hands-on practice for preparation, you may be wondering if skipping the hands-on practice is still sufficient to pass the exam. The short answer is yes!

In fact, I passed both the AWS Solutions Architect Professional and AWS DevOps Engineer Professional exams without doing any hands-on practice during my preparation.

While doing hands-on practice will likely increase your chances of passing the exam, in this article I will share tips on how to study efficiently and save your precious time.

It is recommended that you have already passed the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam or have equivalent knowledge. This article is based on my personal experience and your situation may be different.

Understanding The Exam

Before you begin studying, it’s important to review and understand the exam overview. This will help you study more efficiently by focusing on the relevant topics and domains.

Exam Overview

Visit the official AWS certification website and carefully read through the information, paying attention to the exam length and number of questions. This will give you an idea of the rigor of professional-level exams, which are known to be lengthy and very challenging.

Click here for Solutions Architect Professional and DovOps Engineer Professional.

Exam Guide

Download the exam guide and review the list of in-scope and out-of-scope services. This will help you avoid overstudying and stay focused on the topics that are relevant to the exam.

Study Resources


There are many study resources available, but I find that video courses work best for me. I highly recommend Stephane Maarek’s courses on Udemy and suggest taking thorough notes on the details of each service. Remember that the AWS professional exams test your knowledge extensively, so it’s important to study in-depth.

AWS Solutions Architect Professional Course
AWS DevOps Engineer Professional Course

As the main focus of this article, I did not do any hands-on practice during my preparation. Instead, I watched other people perform the hands-on through video courses on Udemy. Note that Stephane’s SA Pro course does not include hand-on practiced. As the workaround I reviewed the Solutions Architect Associate course instead.


To be honest, at the time of writing this article, I couldn’t find many books to prepare for the AWS SA Pro or DO Pro exams. However, after reviewing several books, I found that AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional Training Notes by Neal Davis was the most helpful for me in understanding the core services. The book condenses only the most important information about each service, making it a real time-saver. Since professional-level exams cover a lot of services, this book is highly recommended.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find the perfect study guide for the DO Pro exam. However, I found that reviewing the book mentioned above as a refresher, even though it’s not specifically designed for DO Pro exam preparation, somehow helped me to pass the exam.

Practice Exam

I can’t stress enough how important it is to take practice exams during your preparation. This is the most crucial part of exam preparation because, no matter how well you know the material, taking practice exams will help you become familiar with the exam style. Here are the practice exam bundles that I used to prepare for both the SA Pro and DO Pro exams.

For AWS Solutions Architect Professional:
Practice Exam by Stephane Maarek and Abhishek Singh
Practice Exam by Jon Bonso
AWS Official Practice Questions Set (free)

For AWS DevOps Engineer Professional:
Practice Exam by Stephane Maarek and Abhishek Singh
Practice Exam by Jon Bonso
AWS Official Practice Questions Set (free)

Note: to find the AWS Official Practice Question set, click on the provided link and scroll down to the Exam Review section. You will need to log in to your AWS Skill Builder account to access the practice set.

Once again, I want to emphasize that this is a tough exam, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at first. After taking the practice exam, it’s important to review all the answers and take notes. Make sure to review not only the correct answers but also the incorrect ones, and try to understand why each option is correct or incorrect.

I highly recommend keep retaking the practice exam until you can score at least 75%. This will help you become more comfortable with the exam format and ensure that you’re fully prepared for the real exam.

Schedule an Exam

Normally, scheduling an exam is the last thing you would do after you feel fully prepared. However, I suggest that you schedule your exam even if you don’t feel ready yet. This will motivate you to study consistently and give you a clear deadline to work towards.

Also, it’s good to know that you can reschedule your appointment up to two times for free. So, don’t be afraid to schedule your exam and use it as a tool to keep yourself accountable and focused.

One Day Before and During the Exam

Rest Well

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s crucial to keep your focus sharp during the 3-hour AWS Professional exams. The tests require fast reading and intense critical thinking, so it’s important to avoid physical and mental exhaustion by getting a good night’s sleep beforehand. Take the time to relax and prepare yourself.

Answering Questions

Professional-level exams, particularly the SA Pro, cover a vast range of topics. There is a high likelihood that you won’t know the answer to every question. Remember to keep the in-scope and out-of-scope services in mind, and eliminate options that seem unrelated to the topic.

Time Management

Even though you have 180 minutes to complete the exam, it is a tough exam, one blink and time can easily slip away. You can spend a maximum of 2 minutes and 24 seconds per question. Aim to answer each question within 2 minutes. If you’re unsure of an answer, take an educated guess and move on to the next question.


Undoubtedly, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional and AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional exams are extremely challenging. However, with the right preparation, passing these exams within the given time frame is certainly achievable!

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Esar Suwandi
Software engineer based in Tokyo focused on Web Development. 4x AWS Certified: CLF, SAA, SAP, DOP. Let's build something awesome! ― Web開発に特化したソフトウェアエンジニアです。 4x AWS認定者です。素晴らしいものを作りましょう!