Platform Developer I, often referred to as PD 1, is a significant milestone for developers in the Salesforce ecosystem. However, what does it take to pass? Do you need prior knowledge of coding or not? How difficult is it for developers moving into the Salesforce ecosystem who have experience with other languages like Java? In this post, I’m teaming up with Sarah Hogg to share our experiences with PD 1. We will cover:
- Why should I study for PD 1?
- Who is the exam for?
- Exam format and structure
- Resources and tips to pass the exam
- Is PD 1 worth it?
Why should I study for PD 1?
Studying for a Salesforce Certification is a big step. Before starting, understand why you want to do it. Some reasons may include advancing your career, gaining recognition, building confidence, or improving your skills. The diagram below shows some common reasons for studying PD 1.
Your background will affect why you want to study PD 1. For example, before studying PD 1 in 2021, I had been working on the Salesforce platform for over 10 years, but no programming background. Coding was still a black-box, but I wanted to peek inside. I also wanted to take PD 1 because it is required for the Application Architect and System Architect certifications, which I aspire to achieve.
Whatever your motivation, keep it in mind. It will help you stay focused and committed!
Who is the exam for?
PD 1 is for anyone seeking to learn how to build custom applications on the Salesforce Platform. Salesforce recommends 1-2 years Development experience, with at least 6 months on the Salesforce Platform. As shown in the previous section, it is possible to achieve PD 1 no matter your background. The key part is being determined, persistent and allocating enough time to study and practice.
Exam structure and format
PD 1 tests your ability to make custom applications on the Salesforce platform. You need to understand both programmatic and declarative concepts. This means PD 1 will check you understand:
- When to use clicks instead of code
- Basic declarative and programmatic concepts on the Salesforce Platform
- How to build a secure, scalable application
- Steps needed to test, troubleshoot and deploy applications
Although the exam is more weighted towards programmatic development, it is not just about programming.
As of the Spring ’23 exam guide, the exam format is as follows:
- Questions: 60 multi-choice/multi-select questions and up to 5 non-scored questions
- Pass mark: 68% (41 out of 60)
- Duration: 105 minutes
- Closed book (online or onsite proctored)
PD 1 covers a number of topics. These are divided into 4 sections:
You do not need any specific qualifications to take the PD 1 exam.
Resources and Tips
Let’s take a look at some resources and tips to help you prepare for the exam.
Resources for the PD 1 exam
It is always important to find the right resources which work for you.
- ApexSandbox.io. I’ve not used this myself, but have heard good things! It provides hands-on Apex challenges. Ideal for PD 1!
- Blogs. Personally, I found SFDC99 & Automation Champion helpful in preparing for the exam.
- Focus on Force (FoF). Both Sarah and I found the study guide and practice exams helpful. Content is concise and up to date. Practice exams give feedback. At $19 USD each, it is cost-effective.
- Official Courses: Trailhead University (paid). Salesforce offer two courses to help you prepare for PD 1.
- Build Applications Programmatically on the Salesforce Platform (DEX450) is a 5-day in-person or virtual hands-on workshop. Cost: Approx. $4,500 USD
- Prepare for your Platform Developer I Certification Exam ( CRT450 ). A 1-day workshop to prepare for the exam. Cost: Approx. $900 USD
- Salesforce Certification Days. Free half-day webinars provided by Salesforce. Great for revision. Keep an eye out for future dates!
- Trailhead (free). Trailhead is full of useful content.
- The Trailmix has >40 hours of curated content. This will give you the opportunity to practice and, in certain modules, follow-along with videos.
- The Study for the Platform Developer I Exam trail provides tips and practice questions to help you fine-tune your preparation. Ideal as you are approaching exam day.
- Unofficial courses: Instructor and on-demand. There are various independent vendors offering training courses for PD 1 and coding in general. Here are some you may want to check out:
- Apex Academy: David Liu’s Apex Academy course is a few years old, but still covers many key concepts
- There are a number of courses on Udemy, such as the following:
- Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I (LWC & AURA also) by Deepika Khanna
- Complete Salesforce Certified Platform Developer 1 Course by Mike Wheeler Media
- Complete Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I Course by Walid El Horr
Tips for the exam
Now that we’ve looked at the resources available, let’s cover some tips for the exam.
Take the time you need to prepare. The amount of time you need will depend on your prior knowledge and experience. If you haven’t programmed before, like I hadn’t, you may need to spend extra time learning programming concepts and the language. In contrast, if like Sarah, you have lots of development experience you may need to get used to Salesforce specific considerations.
Getting hands-on is essential. The exam may be multi-choice/multi-select, but it will test your understanding. By getting hands-on, you’ll learn from mistakes, see common errors and gain confidence. This will make reading code snippets in the exam much less scary!
First Salesforce certification?
Whilst they are definitely not pre-requisites, they will help you get familiar with Salesforce exams and learn some key principles on the platform. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility; you need to know when to use those coding skills!
However, as Sarah’s example shows, you can certainly go straight into PD 1 if you prefer. The most important thing is to stay motivated, enjoy what you learn, and become skilled in both coding and declarative tools.
Use your exam time well
On average, you have approx. 1m 35s per question. This gives you enough time to read the questions and answers carefully. However, if you are not sure of an answer, mark it for review and revisit at the end of the exam.
Don't give up!
If you are new to coding, it can be a rewarding, yet challenging process. However, as with all things Salesforce, it is certainly possible. Keep going and practice frequently. Most importantly, adopt a growth mindset. The concepts may be daunting at first, but everything is logical and achievable with persistence.
Is PD 1 worth it?
In both Sarah and I’s experiences, PD 1 has been valuable. For Sarah, it helped boost confidence on the platform and added credibility to her Salesforce knowledge. As for me, I found it really interesting to have a structured path to explore the world of coding on the platform. As such, we would both recommend anyone interested in PD 1 to explore it further!
How do I register?
This post has covered PD 1’s structure, format and tips and resources to help you prepare. Together with Sarah, we’ve explored some of the benefits and challenges in preparing for PD 1. We hope it’ll inspire you to consider studying for this exam and if so, best of luck!
Thank you to Sarah Hogg for her contributions to this post!
Until next time, thanks for reading! 🐧
Bonus Penguin Fact
If you’ve read previous blog posts, you’ll have learned how varied and sometimes, incredibly large some species of extinct penguins were! Why not take a quick trip through the Penguin family tree? Check out this short video – be sure to watch it to the end; it is worth the wait!
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