Being new to the Salesforce community can be daunting; especially if you’ve never experienced a professional workplace. When first introduced into this community I didn’t have any certifications to my name and no experience.

There’s this big scary world of Salesforce and it’s good to have something to back you up, not only from a professional standpoint, but these certificates can give you confidence in your work.

Throughout this piece I hope to share with you, valued reader, the beginning of my Salesforce journey as well as some tips for taking your exam and what to expect when you walk into that test room. Onwards!

First of all, let’s have a quick chat about the exam. If you’re going to take the exam make sure to read the Salesforce exam guide:

I highly recommend reading through the full exam guide for all the necessary information and resources.

This will give you some basic information surrounding the exam. Most importantly it tells you that:

  • There are 65 questions (5 of them are unscored)
  • You need to correctly answer 65% of them to pass
  • You have 105 minutes to complete the exam
  • There are no prerequisites to take this exam

NOTE: This certificate is a prerequisite for a lot of other certifications. This is like the baseline certificate within Salesforce for any administrator or consultant.

One more section of the exam guide that I want to bring to your attention is the question weighting. This is probably the most important part of the guide for what to study in preparation for the exam.

These two sections have the highest weighting within the exam. This exam is pretty spread out, covering a range of different topics (since an administrator needs to be pretty well-rounded with their skill set). “Well that’s mighty useful but what can I do before I think about going for the certificate?”

Let’s just take a step back and go back to where it all began. Story time!

I began using Salesforce in late November 2017 and I passed my certification in March 2018. A lot happened in that time – read for context – but all of that was precious experience and learning that I believe is needed to acquire your certificate (even the mistakes).

I began with just helping on some basic administrator tasks such as creating text fields and creating users. As time passed these tasks grew out to creating more complex fields (such as Formulas), creating Matrix reports and dashboards and even developing an entire sandbox. Shortly after, I decided to give the exam a shot. I had a few months experience behind me and went into the testing room (onsite) feeling confident. As soon as the first question came up and I didn’t know the answer, my heart sank. As the exam continued I realised there was still quite a bit of knowledge that I was missing. Unfortunately, I failed the exam.

The results were quite shocking, but I realised that it was the little things that all added up. Even though I said to focus on the main weightings of the exam do not forget about the smaller areas, they all add up and will affect your results significantly. Afterwards, I continued with work and life went on.

Not long after, I was lucky enough to become the system administrator for one of our clients whilst they had a staffing change. Being honest, that frightened the s**t out of me, but it was probably the best experience that I’ve had to date. There was so much learning happening during that time and so I decided (about three weeks after failing my previous attempt) to give the exam another shot. I went to my testing site (I’ve had all my exams on site) sat down in the chair and after about 60-70 minutes I finish the exam. “Success” was written on top of the screen. I walked out of the testing centre back to my office and sat down. I did it. Although it wasn’t any sort of technical architect level certificate, I laid the foundation to grow my Salesforce career.

But what can I share with you about all of this?

The first thing is: Customers are the greatest source of learning materials. With their various requirements you can learn how to deal with many different types of requests and you get to discover for yourself all the different solutions available.

Study materials such as Trailhead, Focusonforce etc. are great for learning new topics and consolidating information that you already know but you can’t solely rely on these to get you through the exam. You need real world experience to expand on the knowledge that these sources give you.

I remember coming across a question where it asked what options were available to you on a certain page. Unless you remember exact page layouts you’ll have to take an educated guess.

All the questions are multiple choice, but some may require more than one answer. As with all multiple choice exams, try and eliminate some answers that you know are incorrect to increase your chances.

This might not be for everyone, but I find it a lot easier to concentrate on an exam when I’m in a testing centre. If you’re not aware you can take the test in a proctored environment online if you so choose. There is a PDF file named ‘Online Proctoring Guide’ that will give you more details.

There is nothing code related in the exam, you do not need to write or read any code.

Overall I’ve loved this journey and I’m sure you will to. There are plenty of online resources to help you along your way and once you get certified, a whole wide world of career options will be available for you to pick.

Enjoy blazing your trail!

– Jack

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