AWS Developer Associate Exam 2019

June 2019 · 17 minute read · tech aws cloud

I recently got the AWS Developer Associate certification. Here are some tips and a copy of my study notes.

Read the AWS Exam Guide. It’s a 3 pager by AWS describing exactly what is in the test.

Purchase the Whizlabs Practice Exams. A few people had recommended these to me and I found the questions a good way to study. All questions have a detailed explanation of the correct answer and reasons why the other options weren’t correct. If you start the exam in ‘practice mode’ you can review the explanation to the question immediately after you have answered it rather than waiting until the end of the exam. You can re-take these any number of times.

I did a couple of the Whizlabs practice exams and quickly identified a couple of areas I was lacking in - AWS Security and the AWS code deployment CI/CD services. I studied these by reading AWS Whitepapers, AWS Product FAQs, and the AWS product overview pages. The website also has a bunch of good learning resources.

I recommend doing one Whizlabs practice exam per day and then studying your weak spots. Repeat this until you’re confident! I’ve copied my notes below. I think they’re all relevant for content covered in the exam but there are definitely some gaps.


An AWS region has at least 2 availability zones (AZs).

Shared Responsibility Model - AWS is responsible for security of the cloud. Customers are responsible for security in the cloud. eg.

AWS Root account should not be used for logging in or making changes. Instead create a new user in the AWS console, create an administrator group with all privileges, and put the user in the administrator group. Use this user.

Credentials and access keys are stored unencrypted in ~/.aws/credentials/ so don’t store any root credentials there. Credentials to use are selected in the following order.

  1. Embedded in code
  2. Environment variables
  4. IAM role assigned to EC2 instance

Amazon Resource Name (ARN) - Unique Identifier for every resource on AWS.

AWS errors

HTTP headers and prefixed with x-amz-.

AWS Envelope Encryption - Data is encrypted by a plain text data key which is further encrypted using the plain text master key.

Elastic Load Balancing

Developing on AWS

Cloud 9


Management Tools

Cloud Watch

Cloud Trail

Identity Access Management (IAM)

PERMANENT                         TEMPORARY

 +------+         +-------+       +------+
 | User +-------> | Group |       | Role |
 +--+---+         +---+---+       +------+
    |                 |
    |                 |              ^
    |                 |              |
    |                 |              |
    |           +-----+------+       |
    +-----------+ IAM Policy +-------+

IAM Policy Evaluation

| Evaluate all applicable policies |
         v          Yes

 +----------------+        +------+
 | Explicit Deny? +----->  | Deny |
 +-------+--------+        +------+
   No    |
         v          Yes

 +-----------------+      +-------+
 | Explicit Allow? +----> | Allow |
 +-------+---------+      +-------+
   No    |

      | Deny |

Example IAM Policy

This example shows how you might create a policy that allows Read and Write access to objects in a specific S3 bucket. This policy grants the permissions necessary to complete this action from the AWS API or AWS CLI only.

The s3:*Object action uses a wildcard as part of the action name. The AllObjectActions statement allows the GetObject, DeleteObject, PutObject, and any other Amazon S3 action that ends with the word “Object”.

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Sid": "ListObjectsInBucket",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": ["s3:ListBucket"],
            "Resource": ["arn:aws:s3:::bucket-name"]
            "Sid": "AllObjectActions",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": "s3:*Object",
            "Resource": ["arn:aws:s3:::bucket-name/*"]

Storage, S3

Buckets are created inside regions, not AZs.

S3 ACLs can be applied to buckets and individual objects.

Best practices:

Data Storage Services

All are managed services.


Developing with DynamoDB


Serverless - No infrastructure or OS to maintain. Charged for the time your function is executing, not idle time.

Best Practices - Use environment variables for passing in secrets to the lambda. - Avoid recursively calling the same lambda.

API Gateway

Best practices - If all requests come in from a handful of regions then setup regional API endpoints. - Use HTTP 500 codes for error handling.

Serverless Application Model (SAM)

Simple Queue Service (SQS)

Use queues to achieve loose coupling between application components and asynchronous processing of messages.

Queue types:


Reading from the queue

Queues can be shared across AWS accounts. - Access can be controlled with permissions and policies. - Must be in the same region.

Encryption - encrypts the message body, not the data itself.

Visibility Timeout - Period of time a message is invisible

Simple Notification Service (SNS)

Amazon MQ

AWS Step Functions

Step functions define a state machine for lambda pipelines.

               | Start |

           | Wait X Seconds |
             |         ^
             v         |
+----------------+     |
| Get job status |     |
+------------+---+     |
             |         |
             |         |
             v         |
          | Job Complete? |
           |            |
           |            |
           v            v

 +------------+       +----------------------+
 | Job Failed |       | Get Final Job Status |
 +------------+       +----------+-----------+

                              | End |


Replication Group - Collect of clusters. One primary (read/write), up to 5 read replicas.

Methods for managing data


Container = Runtime + Dependencies + Code

Elastic Container Registry (ECR) - Fully managed container registry. Alternative to Dockerhub or self hosted.

Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) Deploy, schedule, auto scale, and manage containerised apps. Auto scaling spins up a new EC2 instance for ECS or EKS to deploy on.


AWS Certificates Manager (ACM) - Issues public and private TLS certificates. Handles auto renewal of certs.

Secrets Manager - Rotate, manage, and retrieve credentials and keys.

Security Token Service (STS) - Provides trusted users with temporary security credentials.


Authentication and authorisation management using public OpenID Connect login providers (Google, Facebook, …) or SAML.

Deploying Applications

Code Star - Project management, JIRA-ish. Integrates with the AWS services below.

Code Pipeline - Fully managed CI/CD pipeline. - Integrates with 3rd party tools such as Github, or the AWS services listed below

Pipeline StageAWS Service
Source (version control)Code Commit
BuildCode Build
DeployCode Deploy
MonitorX-Ray, Cloudwatch

If a stage in the pipeline fails then the entire process will stop.

Gradual Deployment Strategies - simultaneously serve traffic to both environments. Only works when we don’t have a versioned 3rd party dependency or database.

Elastic Beanstalk

Beanstalk requires to IAM roles:

Cloud Formation