Preparing for the Amazon SDE Online Assessment

The Amazon SDE Online Assessment is the first of many serious challenges you will face on your way to becoming an Amazon Software Development Engineer.

This test includes coding and system design sections, as well as a personality test that is intended to ensure you are compatible with Amazon’s workplace culture as expressed in the 16 Leadership Principles.

This article contains a short summary of the different sections of the assessment, sorted by role. 


amazon sde assessment

This Amazon assessment evaluates your coding skills and system design knowledge, as well as your personality traits and how they align with Amazon’s 16 Leadership Principles.

Here’s a quick overview of the assessment’s parts, divided by positions (read further down for an in-depth overview):

New graduates and interns
Part 1 – OA1: Two coding questions
Part 2 – OA2: Work Simulation test + Work Style Assessment

SDE 1 and 2, SDET
Part 1 – Coding Challenge (two questions)
Part 2 – Work Simulation
Part 3 – SDE Work Style Survey
Part 4 – Amazon Work Style Survey

Amazon SDE Online Assessment: The First Step

This test is the first screening stage required for all Amazon SDE candidates regardless which position they’re applying for. It includes a coding test as well as two personality tests – Work Simulation and Work Style.

Below you will find a detailed discussion of each section.

Amazon Coding Assessment

The Coding Assessment is a coding test with strict time limits. Candidates are given 90 minutes (an hour and a half) to complete two open-ended coding assignments.

What Is Being Tested?

  • Problem Statement Comprehension: The candidate’s ability to read and properly understand the problem description.
  • Coding Skill: Can the candidate figure out a solution for their problem and then implement it in the form of efficient code?
  • Data Structure Implementation: Can the candidate choose and implement the right data structure for an optimal solution for the problem? Can the candidate use a set/map/list when these are needed?
  • Runtime Complexity: Can the candidate assess their own code for runtime complexity or other problems?
  • Simplification: Can the candidate provide simple solutions to complex problems in a manner that is comprehensible to the average user?

What Is Not Tested At this Stage

  1. In-Depth Knowledge of Specific Programming Languages: The candidate can write code in any language they’re comfortable with – Amazon is not assessing knowledge of any specific language in particular.
  2. Deliberately “Tricky” Question Wording: The questions are designed to be as straightforward as possible – what’s being tested is your ability to resolve programming questions, not to win word games.

What Amazon is testing for is the candidates’ coding and problem-solving skills and their ability to apply concepts such as algorithms, data structures, and patterns, and optimize their code.

In past tests, the SDE Assessment used to include debugging and coding approach sections, but those are no longer included in the assessment as of the year 2022.

Can you Cheat on the Coding Test?

The test is monitored using HackerRank, a proctored testing system. It records all your browser activity once the test starts. If you try to insert code from other programs or from a website such as Google or StackOverflow, this will be detected and cheaters will be caught.

Programming Languages for Use in the Test

You can use any of these multiple languages: C, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Objective-C, Scala, Swift, Clojure, Erlang, Julia, Kotlin, Go and Lua.

SDE Work Simulation

Here you must demonstrate your system design skills and problem-solving abilities as applied to work scenarios involving fictional coworkers, superiors, and other stakeholders.
You must address the scenarios from a system design standpoint and make use of SDE ideas, such as dealing with ambiguity, design for maintainability, and identifying trade-offs.

The test is divided into three sections called modules, which are based on real-life workplace scenarios which you may encounter as an Amazon SDE. They include background information, data, and tasks that pertain to the test questions.

The candidate must rate each of the responses. You are expected to complete the entire test within fifteen or twenty minutes.

Here’s an example question similar to the ones encountered in the actual SDE Work Simulation:

Amazon SDE sample question example

Amazon SDE Work Style Assessment

This is a personality test dealing with the candidate’s compatibility with the Amazon workplace environment, their decision-making skills, and their work preferences, which are assessed based on the Amazon workplace culture and the Leadership Principles. The test is not timed.

As your potential employer, Amazon is interested in learning about the specific patterns of your work style.

The questions in the Work Style Assessment contain challenges or preferences that you might encounter in the future as a potential Amazon System Development Engineer.

You have to select a response that matches your view of the problem while applying the Leadership Principles to the issues.
which focuses on the work environment, decision-making, and preferences – in line with Amazon’s culture and leadership principles.

The test contains two sections:

SDE Work Style Survey

Assess your view of SDE work.

Here is an example question:

Amazon Work Style Survey

Assess your approach to work in general.
An example is seen below.

What Happens After the Test?

The Amazon SDE selection and interview process typically takes between four to five weeks in total. Here is an overview of the list:

  • Application.
  • Amazon SDE online assessment (this is what this page covers).
  • Preference Questionnaire (this is to ask about your preferences in terms of team, position, and location to better match you to a position).
  • A conversation with a recruiter (to provide information about the next stages in the process).
  • Face-to-face interviews.
  • Interview decision.
  • Discussion of potential team matches based on your preferences from the questionnaire.
  • A conversation with a Team leader.
  • Team selection.


Is the coding assessment hard?

The Amazon coding assessment is intended to be challenging, to enable Amazon to short-list the best potential candidates who have not only good coding skills, but are able to create simple solutions to advanced complex problems.

Do I have to answer both of the questions in the coding challenge?

The candidate must answer both of the questions. Pay attention to the on-screen timer during the exam. Don’t get so hung up trying to solve one question that you don’t advance to the next one. If you are having great difficulties with one question, advance to the next question and come back to the first one later if you have to.

Can I take a break during the SDE assessment?

Between the coding challenge and before the Work Simulation and Work Style Assessment, you can take a short break.

You should be able to remain logged in to the Online Assessment to do this, but if you do need to log out unexpectedly, you can click ‘Start My Assignment’ to log in again.