If you’re familiar with AWS certifications, you’ll know that most of them are updated periodically. Next up on the slate for an upgrade is the Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, which will be moving from SAA-CO2 to SAA-CO3 to cover a new range of Amazon services developed since the initial exam and to redistribute the percentages per domain.

 So what are the key details you need to know about, and what is set to change on the new version of the exam?

New AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate: The Key Facts

So, aside from the exam changes (which we will cover in more detail shortly), what are the key facts surrounding the updated exam?

Perhaps the most critical information you need to inform yourself of is the date of the exam changeover – 29th August 2022. So if you are currently on track to take the SAA-CO2 version of the exam, it’s a good idea to get a date scheduled for your exam that is at least two weeks ahead of the expiration date (if not longer), giving yourself a little leeway should you need to resit.

If you’ve already passed the SAA-CO2, there’s no need to worry, as your certification won’t designate which version of the exam you took. Plus, there’s no need to recertify until three years after your original certification date.

 Another detail of note is that there’s no beta exam or overlap period, meaning you either need to study for the SAA-CO2 and sit it before the August deadline or start your preparations for the SAA-CO3 and book your exam for any date from the 30th of August onwards.

So with the details surrounding the change covered, let’s take a closer look at what is set to change on the new version of the exam.

What Will Change for the SAA-CO3 Exam?

The changes for the exam are pretty significant and reflect the constant evolution of the features and services currently offered within the AWS ecosystem. In total, there are at least an additional 30 AWS services not covered in the current scope of the SAA-CO2 exam.

They include but are not limited to:

  • AWS Data Exchange
  • AWS Data Pipeline
  • AWS Lake Formation
  • Amazon Managed Streaming for Apache Kafka
  • Amazon AppFlow
  • AWS Outposts
  • VMware Cloud on AWS
  • AWS Wavelength
  • Amazon Neptune
  • Amazon Quantum Ledger Database
  • Amazon Timestream
  • AWS Amplify
  • Amazon Comprehend
  • Amazon Forecast
  • Amazon Fraud Detector
  • Amazon Kendra
  • AWS License Manager
  • Amazon Managed Grafana
  • Amazon Managed Service for Prometheus
  • AWS Proton
  • Amazon Elastic Transcoder
  • Amazon Kinesis Video Streams
  • AWS Application Discovery Service
  • AWS WAF Serverless
  • AWS AppSync
  • And more…


There’s also been a redistribution of the percentages attached to the domains tested on the exam. The initial exam (SAA-CO2) had the following structure:

In contrast, here is the new allocation for the SAA-CO# exam:

As you can see, the renamed and revamped Designing Secure Architectures domain has now been given top weighting. The middle two domains remain broadly similar, whereas the cost-optimized architectures domain has been boosted by 2%.

Other Key Features of New Exam Format for AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-CO3)

One of the widely expected changes for this updated exam was the introduction of a hands-on labs or exam labs element, which was a notable feature of the recently updated AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate certification.

 Students taking this exam have to use the AWS Management Console to complete a series of tasks to demonstrate their knowledge of the material being examined. However, contrary to predictions, AWS has decided not to include exam labs in the new exam guide for the SAA-C03 so. It appears they will persist with the current multiple-choice and multiple-response format.

 The new exam also spends a lot more time covering machine learning topics that its previous iteration, so expect to spend time studying features and services such as:

  •  Amazon Comprehend
  • Amazon Forecast
  • Amazon Fraud Detector
  • Amazon Kendra
  • Amazon Lex
  • Amazon Polly
  • Amazon Rekognition
  • Amazon SageMaker
  • Amazon Textract
  • Amazon Transcribe
  • Amazon Translate

 You can look at the details of the new exam in more detail in Amazon’s official documentation for the SAA-CO3 exam.

Is There a New Practice Exam for the SAA-CO3 Exam?

At the time of writing, there is yet to be a new practice exam released based on the new SAA-CO3 exam criteria. However, practice exams should be available in the coming months for students to become more familiar with what they should expect before they sit the real thing.

 In the meantime, Amazon has released sample questions from the new exam (SAA-CO3), which may give you some indication as to what to expect while waiting for the new practice exam to be released.

How Can I Study for the New Version of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Exam?

With the new exam syllabus and domain weighting now available to the public, training and education providers, including ourselves, are working hard to develop a new online course for the new version of the exam.

 We are making the finishing touches to the course, and those looking to gain a headstart on their studying can sign up for our newsletter to receive notification of its completion. So, if you’re looking to take the new exam later this year, make sure to click the link below to be notified the moment we release our new SAA-CO3 course.

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