How to study for a Salesforce Certification Exam

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By far the most popular questions I get emailed to me are around Salesforce Certifications and how to study for the exams. While I’ve been lucky that for each of my three certifications I’ve been able to go to a Salesforce Admin or Developer course. Right now I’m working to getting my Sales and Service Cloud Consultant Certification. So now is a great time to offer some tips and best practices to make your trip to the exam center worthwhile. To help us out I’ve also asked fellow MVP, Jared Miller, to collaborate on this post and give Salesforce Admins some tips.

JaredWhile a lot of admins I talk to are lucky enough to attend a Salesforce.com course, some of us have gained our knowledge through on-the-job training. A Salesforce.com Certification is something that is now being required for new admins, consultants, and developers. This is a certification that holds a lot of weight within the ecosystem.

Here are Jared Miller’s 5 tips for studying for your Salesforce.com Certification – and this applies to people who have and have not taken a course.

1. Create a Study Group – Attend your local user group and network to find other users who are interested in getting their own Certifications. Within each group, there are so many unique experiences and backgrounds that most of your questions can be answered or explained – sometimes a business case helps cement the knowledge. Also, you may have a limited experience with the platform and this will be a way you can expose yourself to features you haven’t touched. Think Advanced Currency Management, or Forecasting. We ran a study group in Tampa and had 4 of the 12 people become certified after the class (there may be more now). See #3 for my guess as to why most people haven’t taken the test.

2. Use your Salesforce.com resources – Seems like a no-brainer right? We go there all the time for help with solving an issue or to learn about the newest features, but have you looked at the very same resources with you “certification” goggles on? Most of the YouTube videos will introduce the feature they are discussing – and this introduction tells you so much! I highly recommend watching these videos for 2 reasons. 1) They explain the features so well and 2) They are talking “Salesforce.com Language”. Listening to these videos we are hearing Salesforce talk Salesforce. How many abbriviations do we have? How many shortcuts do we take to configuration? How many of the terms do we just take for granted? How many of these terms have roots in traditional software that we may need explained? Ok, enough questions, I think you get my point. Play this videos with the volume on all day! Just listen to the videos and start getting in tune with the proper terminology (the documentation they use for the videos is the same used for training). Here is a great link for the youtube videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/salesforce/playlists?view=50&shelf_id=15&sort=dd That’s right, a Help and Training Playlist.

3. Set a test date – Hold yourself accountable. If you don’t have a date you are aiming for and your money paid, it is easy to put it off and say, “I’m not ready!” $200 and a firm date will help get you to that point. I have seen so many smart people not become certified because they have no accountability. Looking to increase your accountability? Make everyone in your study group sign up for a test. But beware – a danger of signing up for a test may mean you need to incorporate a new release into your studying. Plan your test around a release to avoid this.

4. Be careful of outside resources – Warning! Some of the “Flash Card” sites, or “Pretend Test” sites do NOT have the correct information. These sites are not related to Salesforce.com nor do they have any input. You are relying on the person putting the website together for the correct information and who know where they are getting their information. You have been warned.

5. Use the study guide – For each certification, the study guide tells you exactly what knowledge you need to have. It tells you the features and the percent of the test those features account for. As an example, the Salesforce.com Certified Admin Study guide tells us that there are 60 questions and 1% of the questions will be based around your knowledge of “Organization Setup.” 1% of 60 is .6 (of course we round up because you can’t ask .6 of a question) which is 1. 1 question, when broken down like that, it will help you study by making your time more efficient and helping guide you to where you need more knowledge. Here is the link to the Saleforce.com Administrator Study Guide (Summer ‘13 – see the releases coming into play?): https://certification.salesforce.com/SG_CertifiedAdministrator.pdf?v=13

Salesforce.com certifications are a standard to which we should all be striving towards. This gives us the ability to speak the same language, pull from the same knowledge base, and ultimately will make your work shine! I hope that you found these tips valuable and let us know any questions that you have.

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