Almost everyone, from longtime Salesforce pros to those just starting out in the Trailblazer Community, gets a little nervous when it’s time to sit for a Salesforce certification exam. We’re here to provide Salesforce certification strategies.
While it makes sense to be a little anxious — the stakes are high — market intelligence firm IDC predicts 9.3 million new jobs will be created in the Salesforce ecosystem by 2026. Proving you’ve got what it takes to succeed in those jobs is the surest path to reaching your personal career goals.
But don’t worry, we’ve got some great tips for getting prepared! Now settle in and get ready to take some notes.
What is a Salesforce certification exam?
Salesforce certification exams allow you to earn Salesforce credentials which highlight deep expertise within a specific role, grow your resume, and highlight your skills. By proving your hands-on experience with Salesforce, you gain a competitive edge that leads to new opportunities. Salesforce credentials are a great way for hiring managers and recruiters to identify candidates for defined jobs and projects.
Earn role-based Salesforce credentials
Prove your hands-on experience with Salesforce and get a competitive edge that leads to new opportunities.
Certification Strategy 1: Learn the exam’s objectives
Each Salesforce certification has a matching guide with all the information Trailblazers need to get up to speed before exam day with Salesforce certification strategies. Read this guide carefully, paying particular attention to the exam outline. The outline has all the details about the specific exam objectives for your certification.
For example, the Administrator Exam Guide shares the 7 objectives — and their associated weighting — that you’ll need to know in detail to pass your exam and include:
- Configuration and Setup: 20%
- Object Manager and Lightning App Builder: 20%
- Sales and Marketing Applications: 12%
- Service and Support Applications: 11%
- Productivity and Collaboration: 7%
- Data and Analytics Management: 14%
- Workflow/Process Automation: 16%
If you know all the objectives for the exam when you go in, you’ve got a much better chance of success.
Certification Strategy 2: Understand your testing style
Where and how you take your exam is up to you. You can either visit one of our testing centers found all around the world for an onsite proctored exam, or complete your exam remotely from your computer using online proctoring. You can choose the testing option that works best for you.
Being aware of your testing style is important when you choose what version of the exam to take.
Testing centers allow you to have paper and a pencil, while online exams don’t. So if being free to write things down while test taking is an essential part of your process, you may prefer to take your exam in person.
Check out this help article on Trailhead — Salesforce’s free online learning platform — for more details on exams onsite or through online proctoring.
Certification Strategy 3: Don’t sweat the timer
Many people have anxiety related to timed tests, but these certification exams allow you to control exactly when the test starts for you.
Yes, all the exams are time-limited, but whether you’re at a testing center or working online, the exam doesn’t start the minute you take your seat. Nothing happens until you hit the start button.
So settle in, take a deep breath, and only start when you feel ready!
Certification Strategy 4: Use memory shortcuts
It may have been a while, but think about all those study shortcuts you learned in school to get you through exam days (remember ROYGBIV?). Acronyms, diagrams, and mnemonic devices are all fantastic memory aids that help the brain retain information and are an important part of many Salesforce certification strategies.
Get inventive and find the way that works best for you! Some people even use songs to memorize formulas, like this lovely rendition by Salesforce Expert Caitlin Nguyen.
Another fun example is memorizing the order of execution if you’re preparing for your Salesforce Administrator Certification.
You need to know that validation rules, assignment rules, auto-response rules, workflow, process builder, escalation rules, and roll-up summary fields happen in a particular order. If you need to recall this specific information exactly when you need it, you can use this mnemonic: Very Awesome Admins Work Pretty Efficiently, Right?
Use this mnemonic to remember the order of execution: Very Awesome Admins Work Pretty Efficiently, Right?
Certification Strategy 5: Test day time management
It’s no small feat, prepping for one of these exams. There’s all the work that goes in ahead of time and the equally important work you do to manage your time during the exam.
You’re the best judge of how long it takes you to usually answer questions, but here’s a good example from a typical certification exam:
Say you’re taking a 2-hour exam that has 60 questions. This timeframe allows you to take up to two minutes per question and still finish on time. So on test day, if you find yourself spending more than two minutes on any one question, it may be best to move on and come back to that question later.
Certification Strategy 6: If you don’t know, guess
By this time, you’ve done a lot of studying and prep work in the Salesforce ecosystem, so you’ve got quite a bit of knowledge about Salesforce in your head. If you get to a question that has you completely stumped, don’t leave it blank —take an educated guess.
Trust your first instinct. It’s likely to be correct.
Certification Strategy 7: Ignore those letters
So you’ve gotten to the end of your exam. You’ve taken educated guesses where you needed to, and you haven’t spent too much time on any one question. But when you go back to review the questions that needed more attention, the order of the answers has changed! What gives?
When you come back to any question for review, the answers will be in a new, random order. So just because you noted that you thought the answer was “C” doesn’t mean that “C” will still be the same answer you saw on the first pass.
It’s a better idea to ignore those letters entirely. Instead, make a note of the keywords in the answer you think are correct.
When you come back to any question for review, the answers will be in a new, random order.
Certification Strategy 8: Read, then reread
Sitting for any exam can be stressful. But remember to stay calm, take your time, and don’t commit the classic mistake of failing to read (and reread) the entire question.
It’s a good idea to read through the entire question and each possible answer completely. Some questions can be long or have multiple parts, so it’s important that you really understand what the question is asking before you commit to an answer.
Don’t commit the classic mistake of failing to read (and reread) the entire question.
This is possibly the most important strategy of all Salesforce certification strategies. If you remember nothing else, read and reread the entire question.
If you’re at a testing center with access to a pencil and paper, you can also jot down some keywords or relevant acronyms to help you answer the tougher questions.
What are the best Salesforce certification strategies?
The best strategies depend on your personal learning style, your areas of strength and growth, and your goals. For a solid foundation, you’ll want to review the official certification prep trailmixes and exam guides on the certification landing page, get active in the relevant Trailblazer Community groups, and maybe even take a Trailhead Academy workshop or class to fully prepare.
Many members of our Trailblazer Community, have shared their personal Salesforce certification strategies, including 20x certified Salesforce MVP and Certified Instructor, Louise Lockiee who wrote about her top Salesforce exam tips for any exam earlier this year. Additionally, Certified Instructor and 9x Salesforce-certified Brian Richardson shared his strategy for passing the coveted Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Certification.
Once you’ve taken your certification exam, you will receive an email with your results, plus Section-Level Feedback. This feedback lets you know how well you did in comparison to the exam objectives that we talked about in the exam guide.
Remember, Salesforce certifications are a huge accomplishment, but not everyone passes every exam on their first try, and that’s fine! You can consider each exam as one step in the journey to earning your certification.
If you haven’t passed this time, this information will be key in studying for your re-exam because it will show you exactly the areas you’ve mastered and those that may still need a bit more work.
Not everyone passes every exam on their first try, and that’s fine!
The important thing is not to give up! Use every exam experience as an opportunity to understand and improve your study methods for the next exam. Taking a test is like riding a bike—when you fall off, you need to get right back on and try again. Follow 10x certified Tani Long’s six tips to rebound quickly from a certification fail.
Ready for the next step?
So how about it? Are you ready to take the next step in your career and get your Salesforce certification? Set a date for the exam to give yourself a solid study timeline, and then start preparing!
You can also check out these awesome resources that will help you get exam-ready:
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