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The AWS Cloud Practitioner (CLF-C02): A prep guide

Everything you want to know about the CLF-C02 certification: what it is, who should take it, what to expect when sitting the exam, and how to study for it.

Oct 16, 2023 • 6 Minute Read

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  • Cloud
  • Learning & Development

Starting your AWS journey? There’s no better way to kick it off than by getting your AWS Cloud Practitioner certification! In this article, we’ll cover all the most common questions you might have about this cert and the exam, so you can decide if you want to take it (and if you do, pass it with flying colors).

What is the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification?

The AWS Cloud Practitioner (CLS-C02) is a foundational certification. It’s a way to prove you have a basic, high-level understanding of AWS Cloud, including what services are available and the terminology. If you have no prior IT or cloud experience, this should be your first stop.

The AWS Cloud Practitioner is also foundational in the sense you can (and often should) build upwards. It’s a great springboard to use to start studying for other AWS certifications, moving from being a beginner to a cloud specialist.

If you’re wondering what the key differences between the current CLF-C02 and the older CLF-C01 exam are, be sure to read my article: “The new AWS Cloud Practitioner (CLF-C02): What to expect.

How hard is the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam?

Even though the AWS Cloud Practitioner is the easiest certification to take, you should still expect to be challenged. The topics covered are wide and general, so don’t expect to be asked to answer deep queries about a specific service.

AWS is notorious for throwing exam-takers questions that are very specific. Expect to be given multiple answers to choose from that might be just a few words different from each other. You’ll see answers to pick from where more than one is correct, but only one fits the specific scenario exactly. 

For example, you might be presented with a data migration scenario. If there is an unlimited amount of time and no internet connection available, you could use any of the Snow Family options to achieve this. If the question specifies petabytes of data, you would know that the solution is specifically AWS Snowmobile. 

To make sure you’re properly prepared, especially if you’re new to the tech realm, prepare as much as you can. Utilize practice exams from several places to make sure that you have a wide range of options and perspectives.

What are the requirements for the AWS Cloud Practitioner?

You only need a basic understanding of computer technology. This certification expects you to be very new to the AWS Cloud Platform, so it expects you to have little to no experience in actually using it. To make sure your computer jargon is on point, check out this cheat sheet.

Does the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam have labs?

No, it does not expect you to demonstrate hands-on experience. That said, actually getting that experience is invaluable in helping you memorize the basics, since you’re doing rather than just reading or listening. You should strongly consider actually spending some time with the AWS platform and services.

Is the AWS Cloud Practitioner a good certification? 

Yes. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is the first in a series of certifications that can help you steadily climb the ladder of AWS expertise. Even if you’re not planning on pursuing other AWS certifications, obtaining this certification gives you a general understanding of the cloud platform.

Aside from the knowledge you gain, having this certification lets other people know you have foundational knowledge of AWS. It also equips you with knowledge of cloud computing terms and principles which are vendor-agnostic, allowing you to converse with people who may be using other platforms such as Azure or GCP.

Does it help managers to do AWS certification?

Yes. Managers and leadership can benefit greatly from obtaining the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. It helps everyone speak the same language, aligning operations teams and leaders, ensuring no information is lost and decision-making is more efficient. If your organization is using AWS, leaders should obtain this certification.

How much does the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam cost to take? 

The exam itself costs $100 USD. It is available in 12 different languages, and can be taken in person or online. 

What sort of jobs can I get with the AWS Cloud Practitioner?

The AWS Cloud Practitioner can be very helpful in getting Customer Success, Cloud Sales, and entry level front-line support roles (like a Junior Cloud Administrator). However, this certification is often the start and not the end of a journey. Many people build upon it to secure senior cloud roles.

One example of this is Winston Smith, who went from a non-technical background to thriving as a cloud instructor and AWS Architect in just 14 months. By doing so, he boosted his salary by a magnitude of six. You can learn more about his certification journey by watching the video below.

How long is the AWS Cloud Practitioner valid for?

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner - like all of AWS’s certifications - is valid for three years. That being said, if you previously passed the CLF-C01 certification, you will still hold the Cloud Practitioner certification for the years at that date. You do not have to recertify with the CLF-C02. 

What is the structure of the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam?

Expect the exam to have short, concise questions. Most of them will include a short scenario of about one to two sentences, and close with a short question. Expect to see some words EMPHASIZED like ‘CHEAPEST’, ‘LEAST’, and ‘MORE’. 

What is the pass score for the AWS Cloud Practitioner?

In order to pass the certification exam, you will need to score at least a 700. The exam score will be between 100 and 1000. 

Can I take the AWS Cloud Practitioner multiple times?

You can take the exam multiple times. If you don’t pass the exam on your first attempt, don’t feel bad — it’s quite common! You will have to wait two weeks before you can retake the exam. Your score overview will let you know which area you didn’t meet expectations.

If you fail the exam, take this information and use it to review that area to fill your gaps. Take some more practice exams, and definitely try again! 

How many questions are in the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam?

The exam is a mix of 65 multiple choice and multiple response questions, with 50 counting towards your score and 15 that do NOT count towards your score. You have 90 minutes to complete the exam. 

What are the key pointers to remember for the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam?

Remember that this exam is very high level, so you don’t need to know the ins and outs of any services. You do need to know the services are used for and their names. You should know general information about each domain: Cloud Concepts, Billing, Pricing, and Support, Security and Compliance, and Cloud Technology and Services.

This exam is a foundational certification, so make sure you remind yourself that you are expected to know nothing too deep about AWS going into it.

How do I prepare for the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam?

You should prepare for the exam by taking a preparation course with CLF-C02 in the title. Your ideal course should have lessons, quizzes, exam tips, hands-on labs, demonstrations, and practice exams.

A Cloud Guru offers a CLF-C02 preparation course with all of these that you can take, helping you go in with all the information you need to ace the exam. There are also some lessons that include extra resources for you to review or dive a little deeper into some areas. Utilize the exam tips as a way to quickly review a section before exam day!


Remember that the AWS Cloud Practitioner can be the starting point of an amazing cloud journey. And no matter what your role is, taking the time to learn more about the cloud — especially AWS, the most popular cloud provider in the industry — is never wasted time. 

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time and focus on where you have gaps in your knowledge or skills. Take your time, and before you know it, you’ll have that AWS Cloud Practitioner badge to add to your accomplishments!