Study Guide: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (CLF-C01) Exam

Welcome to this complete guide on preparing for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam CLF-C01. Even if you’re a complete beginner, by the end of this article, you will know everything you need to know to ace the exam on your first attempt. By following the practical tips presented in this article, you will be an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner in no time!

Passing the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam CLF-C01 on your very first attempt is not hard, just make sure you know these topics very well:

  • Knowledge of the Cloud
  • Understanding Security & Compliance
  • Using & Deploying AWS Technology
  • Billing & Pricing

The world of modern technology is always evolving and a great example of that is how businesses are moving to the cloud. The biggest cloud service provider is Amazon with its AWS Platform, which makes AWS professional certificates a valuable addition to any resume. In this article, I am going to clearly tell you how anyone, even a complete beginner, can become an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner.

Who Should Seek to Become an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner?

Anyone who is employed or seeks employment in a position that utilized AWS Cloud services should strongly consider this certification. This certificate is also recommended for anyone who is seeking an Associate level AWS certificate or Specialty certification. Examples include anyone seeking to become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect, AWS Certified Developer or AWS Certified SysOps Administrator.

You don’t have to be a programmer, developer or sysadmin to have a real business-case use for this certification. In fact, this is a useful knowledge certificate for anyone who has managerial, billing or security considerations that involve AWS Cloud services.

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How is the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam Administered?

To take the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam, you must schedule it in advance. The test itself is an hour and a half long, so you should set aside 2 hours for the test to give yourself a little lee-way. The exam is taken at an authorized testing facility or on your own computer utilizing monitoring software.

The test is scored a numerical value between 100 to 1000, with 700 being the minimum threshold required for certification. Scores at 700 or above get a passing grade, while scores of 699 and below result in failure. If you fail your test, you must pay the full purchase price of the test to take it again, which is why passing on the first attempt is ideal.

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What Subjects are Covered on the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam?

The CLF-C01 exam uses multiple-choice and multiple answer formats so you don’t need to worry about writing code or writing out responses. Be aware that some of the multiple-choice answers can be tricky, so attention to detail while studying is essential. Your results will be broken down into 4 broad categories.

By the time you take the exam, you should have practical experience using AWS Cloud and a basic understanding of the AWS Cloud platform and IT in general. However, even if you don’t have those skills and knowledge-set now, I’ll explore some ways to get you up-to-speed on these subjects.

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam tests your knowledge of the AWS Cloud ecosystem and product stack. In order to pass the exam, you must prove your knowledge of AWS Cloud infrastructure and underlying architecture. You must demonstrate that you understand the billing, pricing options and overall value propositions of the services. In addition, you are required to be able to match the right AWS platform as the correct solution to a customer’s use case and to know how and where to look for troubleshooting client issues. Finally, you must clearly communicate the foundational security, compliance, and basic operations of using AWS Cloud, such as deployment.

If some of that sounds over your head right now, don’t worry. I’m going to walk through each of the 4 sections of the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam, which are:

Domain% of Examination
Knowledge of the Cloud26% of your score
Understanding Security & Compliance25% of your score
Using & Deploying AWS Technology33% of your score
Billing & Pricing16% of your score

Knowledge of the Cloud

The exam starts by determining your knowledge level of the cloud. This first section of the test accounts for about a quarter of your score and is concerned only with your theoretical understanding of the AWS Cloud ecosystem. You’re expected to be completely familiar with all the key AWS Cloud services.

In this opening section of the exam, you will need to specifically illustrate the value proposition of AWS Cloud. That means you need to understand why AWS Cloud exists, who it is designed for, and in what technical and financial scenarios should different AWS technologies be deployed. The test requires you to prove your understanding of the design principles behind the various cloud architectures available on AWS. You will also be tested on the economics of AWS Cloud in this section of the exam.

Understanding Security & Compliance

Putting data and critical IT infrastructure online has a lot of risks involved, and this section of the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam is here to prove that you understand those risks, and can follow basic security procedures to protect your data. This section of the test is a quarter of your examination grade.

Keeping data protected online isn’t just good practice, but also in many jurisdictions, it’s the law. This means that adhering to proper data security is also a matter of compliance. To that end, you will be tested on your understanding of the AWS shared responsibility model. You will also need to clearly demonstrate that you understand AWS Cloud compliance regulations and security procedures.

Most business-case and real-world use of AWS Cloud will involve multiple users. That is why you are also tested on your knowledge of AWS access management settings and capabilities. You will need to show that you thoroughly understand account management, user permissions, and access restrictions. Finally, to end the section, you show that you understand how to escalate security issues and seek support.

Using & Deploying AWS Technology

This is the true core of the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam. This is the portion of the test where you show your mastery of the AWS Cloud platform, and as such, it accounts for 1/3rd of your entire grade. While this section is still testing your knowledge, it is also the section that benefits the most from practical, hands-on experience using the AWS Cloud services.

The third section of the exam opens by testing your understanding of operating and deploying AWS Cloud services. This means illustrating your practical knowledge of all the methods available for configuring, deploying and using AWS Cloud services. You are required to define how the global infrastructure of AWS works and must identify all the key AWS product options and services. Finally, to complete the section you must demonstrate your ability to seek technical help and support, including escalation.

Billing & Pricing

The final portion of the exam is all about billing and pricing options on the AWS Cloud platform. You’re not expected to memorize exact billing amounts but instead are supposed to weigh different billing options against each other in a bunch of hypothetical customer use-case scenarios. This final section only comprises 16% of your grade on the exam.

To pass this section, you are required to compare and contrast all the billing options and pricing models that are available for the various services. This specifically includes an understanding of account structures and how they relate to AWS pricing and billing. You can’t fake your way through this section and instead must have direct product knowledge of all applicable AWS Cloud services. The section wraps up by testing your ability to research and escalate any billing-related issues.

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Advice on Passing the CLF-C01 Exam

This is a foundational, practical knowledge-based certification. Anyone seeking this certification is recommended by Amazon to have at least 6 months of direct experience using AWS Cloud. However, that is rather ambiguous, since some users might directly utilize the service once or twice in those 6 months, while others may use it every day. Since this is a guide on preparing for the exam, there is no sense leaving this to chance, so let’s explore how to make sure you pass the exam on your first attempt.

The best way to ensure you always pass an exam on your first attempt is to completely study the exam and then do practice tests. For instance, Udemy has a lot of resources for that which can help. This one Udemy course is able to take you from a complete beginner to an AWS Cloud master (just look at the reviews, this is a proven course that many have already used to pass the CLF-C01. The course is only about 6 hours, and also includes interactive assignments and a certificate of completion when you’re done.

If you want to deep-dive a bit more, this Udemy course on AWS Cloud certification has 16 hours of content. While the first course is great, this course is a bit longer and breaks down the subject matter in a little bit more detail. It is also designed for complete beginners and by the end of the course, you will be ready to take the CLF-C01 exam.

If you’re looking for a more intensive, multimedia training course that includes a couple of practice tests, then this “Ultimate Exam Training” course on Udemy may be just what you need. This course combines theoretical video tutorials with actual hands-on exercises, and also includes an hour of exam cramming lectures, as well as 2 practice exams.

Speaking of practice exams…

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Why Practice Tests Save You Time & Money

Remember, if you fail your exam, you must pay the fee to take it again. Not only that but since the test takes 90 minutes, you’re going to have to use another 90 minutes of your life to retake a test you should’ve passed on your first attempt. These are two reasons why failing a certification exam wastes your time and money, and why you should do everything you can to pass the test on your first attempt.

If you feel like you might be ready for the exam, then it makes sense to pick up some practice tests and see for yourself. You can pick up this pack of 6 practice tests with over 500 questions on Udemy that will tell you whether or not you’re ready for the real thing. If you can pass these tests, then you will pass the real thing… and if you fail these tests then you’ve saved yourself the time, money and effort of failing the real thing.

I mentioned earlier that Amazon recommends 6 months direct experience with the AWS Cloud platform, but if you take these Udemy courses and practice tests, you can condense 6 months of experience into 6 days (or even 6 hours to be honest.) However, the best thing about these courses is that you can take them at your own pace, and use them while actually practicing inside of AWS itself.

There are a lot of options for CLF-C01 practice tests, so for variety you may want to check out this 6 pack of practice tests on Udemy. While it doesn’t contain any of the actual questions from the CLF-C01 exam, it does a great job of ensuring you have all the required knowledge to pass the actual exam.

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Other AWS Certifications to Consider

While many seeking the CLF-C01 certification are content with just that one cert, some people are looking to become an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner as the first step on a much bigger journey to acquire more advanced AWS certifications. This makes sense because there is no point in getting higher difficulty certificates if you cannot pass foundational exams and therefore do not thoroughly understand the core functionality of the AWS platform.

Some of the other certifications relevant to an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner are:

aws certification paths
Screenshot taken on AWS certification path page (https://aws.amazon.com/certification/)
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Other Preparation Advice for the Exam

A test is a test, and so any general advice that applies to passing a test applies here. I won’t reinvent the wheel or spend too long on this generic advice, but it is worth noting the following:

  • Take notes early and often. Pause videos or stop reading regularly to take good notes.
  • Health affects your mental fortitude, so stay healthy in regards to sleep, diet, and exercise.
  • Don’t take the real test until you’ve passed at least a few practice tests.
  • Don’t just watch how to do something in AWS, actually use the procedures inside of AWS while you’re being taught.
  • Even though the test is 90 minutes, set aside 2 hours for the test in case of a delay.
  • Don’t study without a plan. Instead, follow along with an expert who already has the certification, such as one of the courses I recommended previously.

Also, make sure you watch this incredible free resource on YouTube:

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Concluding Thoughts on Becoming an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

Becoming an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner shows the world that you have a firm understanding of the AWS Cloud platform. It’s perfect for anyone trying to stay current with the business world, and the shift towards the cloud for mission-critical services. It’s also a great starting certificate for anyone trying to pursue the more difficult AWS sysop or developer certs.

Being prepared to pass this exam is easy, all you need to do is your homework. Luckily, with this guide, you now have access to resources that will allow you to pass the test on your first exam. The best part of that is that you know when you will pass the exam because you are using practice exams. This means the chances of failure are eliminated. All you have to do is follow the path to success that has been laid out for you.

I am confident this guide will help you pass the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam. All you need to do is study, pass a few practice tests and then you’re ready for the real thing. You can then take these foundational principles and use them to pass additional certificates down the road. Thanks for reading, and I’d wish you good luck on the exam, but you won’t need it after this guide! Now go study so you can pass that exam!

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