Updates Coming to the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (CLF-C02) Exam!

Updates coming to the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (CLF-C02) exam!

In June 2023, AWS announced that the current version of the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam (CLF-C01) would be changing and that a new version, CLF-C02, will be available to sit beginning September 19, 2023. AWS frequently updates its exams to ensure they continue to validate your knowledge of current AWS service offerings, which are constantly evolving as AWS implements hundreds of updates across its platform every month. Given that the current (CLF-C01) version of the exam has been around since 2019, this particular certification was certainly due for an update! In this blog post, I will review what has changed between the current (CLF-C01) and updated (CLF-C02) exam blueprints and offer some advice to anyone who may be studying to take this exam over the next several months.

The current CLF-C01 exam assesses your knowledge across 4 content domains, broken down as follows:

Domain% of Exam
Domain 1: Cloud Concepts26%
Domain 2: Security and Compliance25%
Domain 3: Technology33%
Domain 4: Billing and Pricing16%

The updated CLF-C02 exam guide references the following 4 domains:

Domain% of Exam
Domain 1: Cloud Concepts24%
Domain 2: Security and Compliance30%
Domain 3: Cloud Technology and Services34%
Domain 4: Billing, Pricing, and Support12%

It’s fairly straightforward to map the content from each of the 4 domains in the CLF-C01 exam guide to the updated CLF-C02 exam guide. The first 2 domains retain their current names, and all 4 domains have their percentages modified slightly. The largest change from CLF-C01 to CLF-C02 is a 5% increase in Domain 2: Security and Compliance. This comes as no surprise given the ever-increasing importance of security across all cloud deployments. A closer examination of the various task statements and lists of services and features covered in the current CLF-C01 exam guide reveals that the vast majority of content from the CLF-C01 exam is still fair game to be assessed on the CLF-C02 exam as well. Domain 3 has been renamed from “Technology” to “Cloud Technology and Services,” but the core focus of the domain remains the same (with one notable exception, which I’ll discuss later in this post). Domain 4 has been renamed from “Billing and Pricing” to “Billing, Pricing, and Support,” and expands the original task statement from the CLF-C01 exam guide that focused exclusively on billing support to now include technical resources and support options as well.

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is the most foundational AWS certification and is ideal for anyone who is looking to demonstrate their knowledge of core AWS services, the shared responsibility model, security best practices, and AWS billing and support options. Unlike higher-level AWS certifications like the AWS Solutions Architect – Associate or AWS DevOps Engineer – Professional, the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam is not geared toward a specific job role or specialty. This makes it ideal for individuals from non-technical backgrounds such as sales or project management who may be working alongside people in AWS Cloud roles, or who may be looking to pursue a future career working in the AWS Cloud themselves.

Let’s quickly run through some of the other concepts and services you might be expected to know within each of the CLF-C02 exam’s 4 domains.

Domain 1: Cloud Concepts (24%)

This domain covers 24% of the exam content, so you can expect about 16 questions involving AWS Cloud concepts. This covers everything from understanding the basic value proposition of the AWS Cloud, including how the AWS global infrastructure can be used to design solutions that are highly available and resilient to failure, to cloud economics and the cost savings that can be realized when migrating to the AWS Cloud. AWS codifies much of this knowledge in two frameworks that are important to know for this exam: the Well-Architected Framework and the Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF), the latter of which is newly in-scope for the CLF-C02 exam. You should understand all six pillars of the Well-Architected Framework and be able to articulate the benefits of the AWS CAF, which include reduced business risk and increased operational efficiency.

Domain 2: Security and Compliance (30%)

This domain covers 30% of the exam content, so you should expect about 20 questions that deal with security and compliance. This requires you to have a solid understanding of the AWS shared responsibility model, which delineates areas of responsibility for both AWS and its customers when deploying and maintaining secure cloud solutions. In this model, certain controls are the exclusive responsibility of AWS, such as the physical security of its data centers. On the other hand, customers are responsible for the level of access they grant to their resources and to whom. Other responsibilities are jointly shared to different degrees between AWS and its customers depending on the nature of the specific solution. To that end, you should understand basic security principles such as the principle of least privilege access as well as how to leverage AWS security services for encryption, access management, and governance.

Domain 3: Cloud Technology and Services (34%)

This domain covers 34% of the exam content, so you can expect about 22 questions involving AWS Cloud technology and services. Going back to my earlier statement about the core focus of this domain remaining unchanged between the CLF-C01 and CLF-C02 exams, the caveat here is that the list of AWS services considered to be in-scope for the CLF-C02 exam has grown drastically–from 57 services across 10 categories for CLF-C01, to 128 services across 19 categories for CLF-C02. This includes entirely new categories of services such as “Machine Learning” and “Migration and Transfer.” Now by no means do you need to become an Amazon Rekognition or SageMaker expert in order to pass this exam, but you will need to be able to identify these services and understand the kinds of tasks they can accomplish. And it’s worth reiterating that migration, which appeared in the CLF-C01 exam guide as “out of scope,” is now very much in-scope for CLF-C02. This includes services such as the AWS Application Discovery Service, Application Migration Service, Database Migration Service (AWS DMS), and the AWS Migration Hub. As more organizations look to migrate their existing on-premises services and applications to the cloud, having a foundational knowledge of AWS migration and transfer options and the services that support them becomes even more critical.

Domain 4: Billing, Pricing, and Support (12%)

This domain covers 12% of the exam content, so you can expect to see around 8 questions about billing, pricing, and support. This includes the different pricing models AWS uses for its services, such as On-Demand, Reserved, and Spot instances. You should understand the various billing and cost management services provided by AWS, including AWS Budgets, Cost Explorer, and the AWS Pricing Calculator. You should also be aware of the different support resources and documentation available from AWS, including whitepapers, blogs, and the AWS Support Center, as well as the differences between the Developer, Business, Enterprise On-Ramp, and Enterprise paid support plans.

Are there any changes to the structure or passing score for the updated AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification exam?

Like the current CLF-C01 exam, the updated CLF-C02 exam will consist of 65 multiple choice and multiple response questions. Most questions will have 4 possible answer options where you must select one correct answer. Others may have 5 or 6 answer options from which you must select two or three correct answers. Of these 65 questions, only 50 questions will count towards your overall score. The other 15 questions are used by AWS for evaluation purposes and do not affect your score in any way. There is no way to tell which questions are scored or unscored but there is also no penalty for guessing, so always be sure to answer every question–even if it’s just an educated guess! Just like its predecessor, the CLF-C02 exam will be scored on a scale from 100 to 1000, with a minimum passing score of 700.

I recently passed the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam. Do I need to recertify?

This is always a concern when AWS announces an updated certification, and for good reason! It’s likely you just spent months studying for an exam, only to find out that AWS is updating it in the not too distant future. Well, I have some good news for you: you do NOT have to re-sit the updated certification to keep your credential! Even if you passed the current CLF-C01 exam on the last day it is available (September 18, 2023), your certification will still remain active and valid for 3 years from that date. There is no need for you to re-sit the newly updated exam. The certificate and digital badge you get for attaining the certification does not include the version of the exam you passed.

Also keep in mind that even if you haven’t recently taken the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, whenever you pass any other Associate or Professional-level AWS certification, your AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification will automatically renew for 3 years alongside that higher-level certification as well. For instance, even though I haven’t sat the CLF-C01 exam myself since 2019, my AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification is still valid through 2026 because I passed other higher-level certifications in 2023.

Advice to anyone currently studying for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification

Registration for the updated CLF-C02 exam does not open until August 22, 2023, so if you are currently registered or already planning to take the current CLF-C01 exam before its last day on September 18, 2023, you should still absolutely do so. Your certification will remain valid for three years from the date you pass the exam no matter which version of the exam you take, and I’ve yet to encounter an employer who has insisted that a candidate take a specific version of an AWS certification exam. However, if your timeline for obtaining this certification extends beyond September 19, 2023 for any reason, you should feel confident knowing that your efforts right now are still preparing you to take the updated CLF-C02 exam as well.

We’ve seen AWS update a number of its certification exams over the past year, including the Security – Specialty, Developer – Associate and DevOps Engineer – Professional exams, as well as the Solutions Architect – Professional and Solutions Architect – Associate exams. In all of these cases, the exam updates have been very incremental in nature, adding some newly in-scope services but otherwise remaining largely unchanged in terms of structure, difficulty, and coverage. I expect that to be the case with the CLF-C02 exam as well, despite the large increase in the number of in-scope services for the exam. Last year, the list of in-scope services for the updated AWS Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C03) exam grew by a similar amount, but the exam itself remained largely unchanged. Aside from a handful of new recall-level questions involving things like AWS machine learning and migration services, expect much of the CLF-C02 exam to otherwise remain very similar to the current version of the exam.

Updates coming to Cloud Academy’s AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Preparation Learning Path

As soon as the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam update was announced, we began assessing the content within our current AWS Cloud Practitioner (CLF-C01) Certification Preparation for AWS learning path to ensure that we have fully covered all concepts and services spelled out within the updated CLF-C02 exam guide. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be refreshing this learning path to include new courses, hands-on labs, and assessments covering topics that are emphasized in the updated CLF-C02 exam, including machine learning and migration services as well as the Well-Architected Framework and Cloud Adoption Framework. We’ll have our updated learning path published on or before the GA date for the CLF-C02 exam, which is September 19, 2023!

To find out the latest information about this exam, and to learn more about updates to other AWS certification exams, you can visit the Coming soon to AWS Certification page.

And for up-to-date training preparation covering all 12 AWS certifications, I encourage you to take a look at our entire library of AWS certification content.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help. Best of luck on your certification journey!


Cloud Academy