Salesforce Certifications: How to Prepare and Study for them

Welcome back to this mini-series on Salesforce Certifications! 

In the last post we covered the reasons and benefits for passing certifications. Here, we will look at some of the key resources to help you. 

We will also give you some tips to help you prepare for your certifications. 

Salesforce Certification Logo
Salesforce Certified Professional Logo

Table of Contents

Plan: Know what you are aiming for

Salesforce provides exam guides for each certification, outlining key information such as:

  • Audience Description – Who should take the exam / expected candidate profile
  • About the Exam – Key details such as format, pass mark, costs, exam delivery, etc
  • Recommended Training – Officially recommended training resources
  • Exam Outline – Structure of the exam and exam weighting in each section
  • Code of Conduct – Standards that, as a Salesforce professional, should be adhered to
  • Maintaining Your Salesforce Certification – Expectations for on-going maintenance
Before you start studying, be sure to read the exam guide. It will help ensure you know what to learn and where your gaps are. More important, it will help ensure that what you are about to study is of interest to you too! 

Learning Style: Understand what works for you

Ways of learning

No two people are the same. Understand what works for you and play to your strengths.  For example, it could be that you respond well to a particular learning style:

  1. Visual (seeing)
  2. Auditory (listening)
  3. Kinesthetic (doing)
  4. Multimodal (mix of all styles)

This is not to say you should ‘box’ yourself with a single type of resource. Odds are you will want variety/mix of resources. Explore what helps keep your interest and helps you retain what you are learning. Your time is precious, use it wisely!

Resources: What is out there?

With the Salesforce market booming, it is no surprise there are a lot of resources available. Adam and I recently discussed this and came up with the following. When picking resources to help you with your journey, remember:

  1. Is it up to date? Salesforce changes all the time – ensure the resources you use are up to date
  2. Is it credible? If you are using a resource to help you learn, check the source. Is it reliable/vetted? 
  3. Will it help you? Select resources which you think will help you and your needs
  4. What are you studying for? What you need will depend on the Certification and your existing knowledge
There is no single ‘best’ resource, so I have deliberately placed these in alphabetical order. 

Blogs

There are many amazing blogs out there with Salesforce content. These help you keep up to date with your knowledge, think of new ideas and help with Certifications (e.g. knowledge, tips, etc). 

There are too many to list here, but blogs such as Automation ChampionSalesforceBen and SFDC99 are certainly recommended. In addition to the blog content itself, they also offer other resources to help with your certification efforts. Automation Champion offers bespoke training packages. SalesforceBen has practice exams/resources for members. SFDC99 have training paths to help you get up and running with code.  

More content relating to Certifications will also be created on SFDCPenguin in time, so please watch this space!

Books

Books are a great way to get in-depth coverage of topics. From personal experience, publishers such as Packt and Apress are worth checking out. Both allow you to purchase individual titles, as well as subscribe. 

When reviewing books, bear in mind when they were published. They can easily become outdated. 

Certification Days

Certification Days are a fantastic free resource, offered by Salesforce. These are half-day webinars, delivered by official Salesforce Trainers, to help you prepare for an exam. The training will be up to date and targeted at the certification. These should be used to help you prepare, but should be supplemented with resources. For more on Certification Days, click here

Focus On Force

Focus On Force is a go-to resource for many Salesforce professionals studying Certifications. It provides clear, concise coverage on a number of certifications. Alongside the courses, you are able to purchase additional practice exams. These provide detailed feedback to help you learn and are kept in line with Salesforce Releases. This ensures they are kept up to date and are credible – a big benefit over a number of ‘free’ practice exams!

Whilst Focus On Force is not a free resource, it is very cost-effective. Click here for more information

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

MOOCs are online learning platforms. These provide a number of benefits, such as being open to anyone, often inexpensive and allow you to gain from the experience of other professionals. For Salesforce, platforms such as UdemyPluralsightSkillshare are worth reviewing. 

Alongside this, a number of Salesforce specific learning resources are available from independent trainers. Examples include: Mike Wheeler Media + and MyTutorialRack

Trailhead Academy (Instructor Lead Training)

Salesforce has a number of official training courses, delivered through Trailhead Academy

Courses offered are in-depth and delivered by official Salesforce Trainers. Content will be up to date. They are delivered around the world in specified centres, or online. Depending on the course, you will typically have a training org for hands-on practice. The trade-off for this is often cost, as these courses are certainly amongst the most expensive resources listed here. 

Classroom Teaching

Salesforce also offers Bootcamps, which are a hybrid of instructor led training and Trailhead. These leverage a combination of instructor lead training, Q&A and self-learning. This can be a very cost-effective way to have access to official Salesforce Training whilst having the flexibility for self-learning. 

Trailhead

Trailhead Logo
Trailhead Logo. All Rights Reserved by Salesforce

No list on Certification resources would be complete without acknowledging Trailhead. Trailhead is an official learning platform, provided by Salesforce. Work through individual modules, projects or follow Trails to learn new skills. You can also undertake Superbadges to put your practical skills to the test! Alongside this,  Trailhead Live also offers live and recorded webinars on all things Salesforce. 

Within the Study Guides, you will almost certainly see Trailhead resources. Trailhead content (not Trailhead Academy) allows you to learn for free. Practice your skills in Trailhead Playgrounds to ensure you learn topics well. 

Be sure to take a look at Trailhead and use the resources available. Depending on how you prefer to learn and the topic, Trailhead may give you all the answers you need.

Training Programmes

If you are new to the Salesforce ecosystem, or looking for a more structured programme with work-experience included, programmes such as Supermums or Revolent could be for you. These provide structure, support and mentorship to help you join the Salesforce ecosystem.

YouTube

If you have not looked up Salesforce in YouTube before, you will probably be surprised how many free tutorials are available there! A great example of this is the free training course that Salesforce MVP, Gemma Blezard produced called ‘Learning Salesforce with Gemma’. At the time of writing, this is available here

Tips: Guidance for Success

Here are some tried and tested tips to help you with the exam:

  1. Give yourself time: Don’t rush through certifications – give yourself time to learn properly and the best chance to pass the exam
  2. Read the question carefully: Often there are multiple options which are potentially valid, not all will follow best practice
  3. Practice, Practice, practice: Apply your Salesforce knowledge. Not only will it help with your exam, it will help you in the real-world too
  4. Invest in yourself: By learning, you are investing in yourself and your future. Study what you enjoy and interests you
  5. Don’t give up: It is natural to have stress/anxiety about an exam. After you have put the work in, give the exam your best shot and see how it goes. Even if you are unsuccessful do not worry. Learn from mistakes and grow – your future self will thank you
  6. Celebrate: After your hard work has paid off – celebrate! Reflect on your achievement

Summary

When studying for a Certification, first familiarise yourself with the content and format of the exam. Understand if this is the certification for you and if it is, what you need to learn and identify your gaps. After this, decide which resources you will use to help you achieve your goal. Ensure that the resources you use are credible and up to date! 

After you have prepared and exam day comes, believe in yourself and your preparation. You got this! Irrespective of whether the result is a pass or fail, you will continue to learn and grow. Never give up and be sure to celebrate your successes!

I would like to thank Adam Lawrence for his input in this mini-series

Bonus Penguin Fact

A local zoo (Marwell) recently celebrated the arrival of a new Humboldt Penguin chick! For more information, click here

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