SFDC Penguin - Certified Associate Tips and Resources

Salesforce Certified Associate: Tips and Resources

Salesforce has released a new certification: Salesforce Certified Associate. I recently took and passed this exam. This blog summarises:

  • Exam background, purpose, format, and structure
  • Resources to help
  • Tips and recommendations

About the Exam

A common question for many at the start of their Salesforce journey is: “Which certification should I do first?” Afterall, there are so many to choose from!

Over the years, I’ve normally recommended Administrator. I have also caveated this. For example, the Administrator Certification is not easy. The syllabus has both breadth, and reasonable depth. This is understandable given the importance of the Administrator role in an org. For new starters, it does mean that there is quite a ‘step up’ to achieve this goal.

Salesforce’s new introductory certification attempts to address this. It is not a ‘professional’ certification but provides an easier first step.

Exam Purpose

The Salesforce Certified Associate exam is intended for:

“Candidates who may be new to the Salesforce ecosystem and have an interest in understanding and using the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform. Salesforce Certified Associate candidates desire to learn the Salesforce platform and common business use cases…. and may want to explore a Salesforce career or may be on the path to becoming a Salesforce Certified Professional…Understanding reporting, user administration, sharing, customization, and data management at a foundational level is beneficial.”

Exam Format

At the time of writing, the exam has the following format:

  • No prerequisites
  • Recommended: 0-6 months user experience & a basic knowledge of Salesforce capabilities
  • 40 multiple-choice/multi-select questions
  • Duration: 70 minutes
  • Pass mark: 62%
  • Registration Fee: $75 USD (no retake fee!)
  • Closed book exam

Exam Structure

The certification is broken up into 4 sections with different weightings:

See the exam guide for a more detailed breakdown of the objectives.


There are many ways to prepare for Salesforce Certifications. For the Certified Associate exam, here are some to bear in mind:

  • Exam Guide. The official Salesforce Exam guide is the best place to start. This covers the exam structure, objectives and more.
  • Trailhead Trailmix. Approx. 33 hours of curated content freely provided by Salesforce.
  • Trailhead Module. Approx. 1 hour module to help you prepare for the exam. Provided by Salesforce for free.
  • Blogs. Always a great, free, resource when preparing for any Salesforce cert. This certification is still new, but there are already some great posts out there. More on this below
  • Courses. This certification is still very new. However, it is likely that in the coming months there will be many courses available.
    • You may want to check out a course that Yau and I created last year: “Salesforce CRM – A Complete Introduction”. This course has ~5 hours of content, covering many of the topics you’ll need. You can find this on Udemy and Skillshare.

Thoughts and Tips for passing the exam

Here are some thoughts and tips to help you prepare for the exam.

  • Command words. Pay attention to each objective’s command word. This exam guide is very ‘scenario’ driven. You are not expected to know each topic in detail, but you need to know how solutions can be applied (e.g., what cloud would you use for a business need)
  • Percentage weightings. The percentage weighting of Salesforce Ecosystem, Navigation and Data Model are similar. Reports & Dashboards is the smallest section. Focus your efforts accordingly
  • Get hands-on. You will need to know the basics of how to use the system. For example, how would you navigate to a different app, find a record, customise list views, personal settings etc.
  • Read questions carefully. As with any Salesforce exam, read the questions carefully. The questions are not as wordy or complex as other exams. That said, they still require care
  • Purpose. Remember, this certification is introductory. Salesforce are testing you know the basics of where to find help and learn. For example, you will need to know:
    • Where to go for help and when (e.g., when to use Salesforce Support, your internal team, Trailblazer Community and Trailhead)
    • Roles and responsibilities within a Salesforce implementation (e.g., Admin, Architect, Consultant, Developer, etc)
    • How different parties in a Salesforce implementation relate to each other. For example, the role of Salesforce themselves, implementation partners, end users, independent software vendors, etc

Would I recommend this Certification?

In my opinion, this certification is great for:

  • Newcomers or individuals wanting to transition into the Salesforce ecosystem
  • Superusers who want to solidify or formalise their knowledge of the platform, but not commit to the more in-depth learning of ‘professional’ certifications
  • Individuals studying for Admin/Platform Developer I certifications who want a broader background before committing to the greater time and cost of Professional Certifications
  • Potentially individuals who have recently passed Admin/Platform Developer I, but want a broader understanding of the ecosystem

This certification is significantly cheaper than the others, has free retakes and no on-going maintenance requirement*. As such, it is an easier steppingstone into the Salesforce ecosystem. However, if you are an existing Salesforce Professional with a lot of experience, this certification probably isn’t the best one for you.

*According to the Exam Guide, there will be more information on this in Summer ’23.

Additional Information

If you want to learn more about this Certification, checkout these articles:

  • Apex Hours: Salesforce Associate Certification
  • Automation Champion: How to Pass Salesforce Certified Associate Certification Exam
  • Salesforce Ben: Salesforce Associate Certification: Guide & Tips
  • Salesforce Blog: Discover the Salesforce Associate Certification: An Entry-Level Credential for New Trailblazers


The Certified Associate certification is the latest offered by Salesforce. It provides an easier way to enter the ecosystem, without the more significant commitment of the ‘Professional’ certifications. If you are an aspiring professional, or an end user wanting to learn more or formalise your knowledge, then this certification is a great one for you!

Until next time, thanks for reading! 🐧

Bonus Penguin Fact

Penguins are normally associated with cold, Antarctic climates. However, Penguins live in a variety of habitats in the Southern Hemisphere. African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) live on the coast of South Africa and Namibia. Unfortunately, their populations are in decline due to various threats such as commercial overfishing. As such, their conservation status is currently Endangered. 

Fortunately, there are conservation organisations such as SANCCOB (The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) which are seeking to help. Learn more about the amazing work of SANCCOB here

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