Salesforce is fast becoming the business platform of choice for many companies. With around twenty-seven (27) certifications and counting, you’d know there’s a real - and rather lucrative - career path with Salesforce.
It’s true that It takes a lot of work to climb the Salesforce Certification Pyramid, but we all think it’s worth the effort. And If you keep consistent with a system that works for you, you will be well on your way.
To help you out, we’ve curated industry how-tos and some super secret tips from our users to help you find your way around in preparing for Salesforce certification exams.
SET A TARGET DATE
If you are on a schedule, you are more likely to get things done. Ninety days is a good time to prepare for an exam but if you are working in Salesforce full time and have a fair amount of hands-on experience, you can spend a minimum of 3 weeks to prepare.
LIST MINI GOALS
The big goal is to take the exam at your scheduled time. It is recommended that under this big goal, you make smaller goals that you should be able to accomplish in between now and the exam day. Imagine the goal as a long piece of french bread. The best way to eat it is cut it up into bite size pieces.
Bite size goals can be ‘learn 3 topics out of 12 topics in 2 weeks’, or ‘score at least 50% on 3 topic exams by the end of the month’. Under the mini goals, make sure to list down tasks and the time in which you plan to do them. Tick off goals as you complete them. Achieving these goals motivates you to keep going.
HAVE A WRITTEN PLAN
If it’s just your intention to study, it most likely won’t happen. The plan has to be thought out, written and referred to from time to time against your actual execution. In this plan, you have your goals, your tasks and your timeline. If you want to take this to the next level, share it with someone who can hold you accountable for the goals you have set for yourself.
MANAGE YOUR TIME
Whether you have 90 days or 21 days to work with, the important thing is to manage your time. From the date of your scheduled exam, work backwards on the days you have available. If you have a shorter period, you may have to devote longer hours studying.
With 90 days, you can actually spend 40 minutes each day or 2 bursts of 20 minutes. If you have 21 days, you can devote 2 hours or more - spread it over the day if you have to - because long hours of continuous studying may burn you out.
Frederique, one of our users, says she spends 3 bursts of 20 minutes daily - once before her family wakes up in the morning, one during lunch time and the last one after work.
Going over textbooks page after page is the long and winding road to study for a Salesforce exam. Not only does it take too much time, it also lacks focus.
With limited time and so much to cover you need to focus your time and energy towards what really matters. Fortunately, Salesforce provides the topics covered in each exam and the corresponding percentage covered by each topic. Know the objectives under these topics and understand concepts in this perspective.
Our study guides are organized by topic and then by objectives. We give you the main points in each objective, scenarios and links for further reference. You can toggle open each objective and close it if you don’t need it. This way, you can easily review according to objectives, set aside the ones you don’t want to take up and focus on what you need.
Make summary notes per objective. Write down brief ideas or takeaways from the study materials and the various references. You can use these basic points to extend your knowledge by connecting the dots. Having summaries makes it easier for you to review everything on the day before the exam. Rewrite them if you have time. Rewriting them or reading them aloud helps you bring what you’ve learned to the surface of your mind, making it easier for you to recall them during the exam.
Practice makes perfect - we couldn’t say that cliche any differently. By practicing things, it becomes much easier for you to recall them. You can practice in your own org. Take up trail mixes at Trailhead. Use the study guide as a checklist of what you should be learning and take up trail mixes according to the concepts in each objective. After taking practice exams, use your mistakes to find out what you need more practice on and deliberately find the corresponding trails for these topics.
Donna, who discovered Salesforce after retirement, treated trails like a job! She was on Trailhead day after day like she was on a deadline with a client. This way, she quickly gained the knowledge she needed to ace the exam.
STUDY AT WORK
You should take advantage of every minute to keep learning. If you work with Salesforce full time, you can actually rig your way through the topics, by choosing to focus on tasks related to the topics that you need to master and using the time in the workplace to work on these objectives hands-on. That way, you get to refresh the concepts and practice them while delivering actual results. It is easy to remember things when you experience them first-hand.
During work, you can even ask questions from colleagues or discuss scenarios with them, maybe make it a topic over lunch (never mind them calling you a geek). One user, Nat, takes practice exams on her mobile browser during the commute to and from work! It sure is a fine way to take advantage of every minute.
TAKE PRACTICE EXAMS
We spend great effort in creating practice exams, that best simulate (not replicate) the actual exam. A good portion of the actual exams are scenario-based. Our practice exams train your mind to process similar types of questions and the more practice you have, the better and faster you will be at tackling them. Take practice exams, check your mistakes, find out what you need to study more on, learn that topic, then take another exam. Use it as a feedback loop to get better each time.
Part of your practice should be a simulation of the exam day, from the sleep you have the day before, to the meals you will have, to the time you will travel to the exam site, the time pressure, even the equipment you will be using. Even if this is a mental exercise, other physical and logistical factors will also determine performance on the actual day.
One of our users, Mark, thinks speed makes a difference. Using timed practice exams, he races against his personal best time. He believes that speed will give him ample time to review his answers 3 times over, and will obtain for him the best possible score.
JOIN STUDY GROUPS
A community or a study group can prove to be a helpful resource in your preparation, for 2 reasons: one, they can boost your confidence and two, they can hold you accountable. A community can boost self-esteem and morale. Because other people are doing it or have done it, it makes you feel it can be done. It can be a source of moral support and encouragement, if you are with other people who are in the same journey. You can ask questions from those who have gone through the same exam in the past and get the best tips - based on real life experience.
If you have a study plan, a group can make you accountable and keep you on your toes with implementing the plan you have made for yourself. If you agree to meet periodically, you will be forced to make progress as planned. In a group you can discuss topics you have difficulty understanding and talk it through with another person. There are people who learn by talking through things rather than just keeping it all inside their head.
This also applies in forums, online and offline, where you can discuss concepts with others. One Focus on Force user who had barely a month to prep for his first exam swears by forums. Discussing scenarios and concepts allowed him to learn everyone else’s best takeaways, and he was able to retain that information, to pass the exam.
If you have a study plan, a study group can make you accountable and keep you on your toes with implementing the plan you have made for yourself.
Earning a Salesforce certification may be tough, but you can choose to make it achievable by having the best resources and managing how you go about your preparation. Each certification could mean a promotion and a corresponding pay increase - not to mention the self fulfilment you can have at the thought of accomplishing something. All these, plus the bragging rights give you reason to celebrate. We have encouraged (and have actually helped) thousands of Salesforce professionals get certified, because it only brings the good stuff. So good that we should warn you, it can be quite addicting.
What Certification are you studying for now?
Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for fifteen certifications