Salesforce Certified Platform Developer 1: Tips and Resources

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?

Salesforce Platform Developer I... is intended for individuals who have knowledge, skills, and experience in building custom applications on the Lightning Platform... [encompassing] ... fundamental programmatic capabilities of the Lightning Platform to develop custom business logic and interfaces to extend Salesforce using Apex, Visualforce, and basic Lightning Components.

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. 

Why Study Platform Developer 1?
Common reasons for studying Platform Developer 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. 

In contrast, Sarah had over 22 years of software development experience when studying for PD 1. Working with languages ranging from C#, C++, C, Java, Visual Basic, Python and JavaScript provided a great starting point. As Sarah was new to Salesforce, PD 1 provided a clear pathway to understand the options and constraints when designing solutions on Salesforce. 

For me I think it was definitely worth the effort, development is something I do as part of my job and I think studying for the PD 1 has helped me feel more confident when developing on this platform. I also think it’s given me credibility as a Salesforce Developer as it demonstrates that I have obtained the relevant knowledge.

Whatever your motivation, keep it in mind. It will help you stay focused and committed! 

Who is the exam for?

The Salesforce Platform Developer I generally has one to two years of experience as a developer and at least six months of experience on the Lightning Platform and has invested time in studying the resources listed in this exam guide

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

A candidate should have hands-on experience developing custom applications on the Lightning Platform and be able to demonstrate the application of each of the topics and objectives below.

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. 

Exam format

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)

Exam structure

PD 1 covers a number of topics. These are divided into 4 sections:

SFDC Penguin - Platform Developer 1 Exam Outline Section Weightings
Section weightings for the Platform Developer 1 certification, as per the Spring '23 exam guide

As you can see, the weighting of each section is fairly even. To give yourself the best chance of success, you should study all the topics in the exam guide. Luckily, there are many resources and tips which can help. 


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. 

This is far from exhaustive! Be sure you check out the various resources available and choose the one best for you. 

Tips for the exam

Now that we’ve looked at the resources available, let’s cover some tips for the exam. 

Prior knowledge

I think my experience definitely helped... having had to adapt to several languages meant that it was much easier to pick up Apex and LWC. Although each language is slightly different in syntax, the basic principles apply and there are some common features.

Be careful of the differences in syntax between Java and Apex... its sometimes easy to muddle them up!

Governor limits are also quite strange to start with, when you have not had to consider how many times you are updating a database or calling an external source before it can take a while to get your head around.

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.

Hands-on practice

Animation of a software developer

I don’t think you can beat hands on experience and for me getting my hands dirty on “real” development was the most fun of all.

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?

When I first started looking into studying for a Salesforce certification there wasn’t anyone to guide me so I looked at all the certifications on offer and decided that as a developer this would be the best fit for me. I have since been told that it probably wasn’t the best one to start off with as its quite a challenging for a “first timer” but to be fair as I’ve got a fair bit of experience in development already I think it probably was quite a good place for me to start my journey. 😊

Is this your first Salesforce certification? Depending on your goals, you may wish to start with another cert, such as Associate or Administrator

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?

When you are ready, you can take the exam online or at a test centre. The exam currently costs $200 USD , with retakes costing a further $100 USD. See the exam guide for more information.


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!

If you found this blog post useful, be sure to follow SFDC Penguin on Twitter or LinkedIn for future updates. 

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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