This post will focus on helping you get your first Salesforce.com Certification and what worked for me. As you know from my recent blog posts, I went through the Salesforce.com Admin Essentials (certification) class back in March in San Francisco and since then have procured 3 Salesforce.com certifications (Admin 201, Dev 401 and Sales Cloud Consultant). I want to share with you some of my tips that allowed me to get these three in a matter of six weeks. While I am sure to get a few more certs from Salesforce.com, the first one is and was by far the hardest and therefore is the one I will focus on in this blog. Once you get the first one (ADM 201), the others should come easier to you. It is generally understood the Salesforce.com Certified Administrator course and test is the hardest and its this way for a reason. In the marketplace, for you to have this certification opens up a lot of doors for you and Salesforce did the right thing to make this one alot harder. If you have never worked with the Salesforce.com platform and try to simply take the course and then the test, 9 times out of 10, you will probably fail. Its OK, a lot of people fail their first time, but what I hope to share on this blog is a realistic guide on what works and what does not. I will break this down into 3 simple sections, take what you can use and throw away the rest. I do realize most people are unique in their study habits and what may work for me, may not work for you. With that being said, lets get started.
If you have the money and/or your company can pay for the course, definitely the onsite 5 day class for administrator certification is the way to go (to find a class near you, click here). You can get hands on training, the ability to ask questions and really get to the basics of Salesforce.com administration. Now if you cannot afford or do not wish to attend the class, fear not, there are other options to pass your ADM 201 course. However, with that being said, you need to have access to the online training that SFDC provides through it Premier Training offering. You can walk through the same training you will receive in the on-site class when doing it online. With that being said, you of course have to be disciplined and do all the exercises step by step. If you try to go through the online course too quickly and don’t grasp the fundamentals of the subject, you will fail the test. There are a variety of other online premier training classes you need to take (list below at end of blog post) and you should view and understand all of these. Now, if for some reason, you have decided to forgo the onsite training AND do not have access to premier training through SFDC, the road to your official certification becomes a bit more difficult. While you can still take the test and study other methods (see other methods below), your chances of passing the first time are really difficult.
Secondly, after you have exhausted your online training options through the official paid training (online/offline), there are several good resources online for free that focus on the essentials of Salesforce.com and the platform. Now while these will not give you everything you need to pass the certification test, you should some solid basics here on what you can study. Here are some great study links entitled “Who See’s What”
- Who Sees What: Overview
- Who Sees What: Organization Access
- Who Sees What: Object Access
- Who Sees What: Organization-Wide Defaults
- Who Sees What: Record Access via the Role Hierarchy
- Who Sees What: Field Level Security
- Who Sees What: Record Access via Sharing Rule
- Who Sees Who: User Sharing
- Who Sees What Permission Sets
Also – this was a session on how to get your first certification, by a great instructor Garrett Farwell. There are a few more video’s online you can find through the YouTube Salesforce.com channel, but these above helped me quite a bit.
Online Flash Cards / Sample Tests
Last, but not least are the copious amounts of online sample tests and sites that claim to be helpful in preparing for the exam. While I certainly did not review every one of them out there, I did look at three and will give you my take on each. Don’t beleive you can just study old test questions and you can pass the test, the info below, should only augment what you already know from other training and/or experience within the platform.
- http://www.cram.com/ – by far this one had the most info and although alot of the content is relevant and good, there were enough flash cards that were just wrong. The answers were either not checked or someone accidentally put them in wrong. Quickly after using this site, I began to to think, “Can I trust these answers” and once I got there, I stopped using this site. So use with caution, but just not a site I could recommend.
- http://www.abetterstudyguide.com/ABSG/ – Now this one was not a jazzy of a site as cram.com, but the format and concept was great. This site allows you to log in, take sample tests that are short or long in length and you can see over time, how your are fairing on these sample test. I found the answers to be mostly correct in that there were no glaring examples of wrong answers such as cram.com. Overall, a great site, but the tests you take are the same, so after a few iterations, you are essentially learning the answers to the same questions over and over again.
- http://quizlet.com – this site was by far the best for what I needed. You should know what to search for on the site and there are lots of samples of test questions within the site. Once you find a few good tests, the format, correctness and ease of use were the best. I used this site for all three of my certifications and would recommend this to anyone. I knew it was a good site, when a few Salesforce.com employees I met in San Francisco even recommended it.
In conclusion, there is absolutely no sure fire quick method to pass the Salesforce.com Administrator Certification test. Nothing will replace good studying and knowing the fundamentals of the SFDC platform and how to apply it to business. Shoot me an email if you have an questions or need info additional to what is above.
Hector Perez Jr
Optional, but critical online classes to take through “SFDC Premier Training”
Setting Up Salesforce CRM Content
Using Salesforce CRM Content
Administering Salesforce Knowledge
Products, Price Books and Assets
Expand Your Practice with ISV Apps from the AppExchange
Launch Your Own Customer Portal
Creating Your Salesforce Community
Using Salesforce for Outlook
Analyze Your Data Your Way with Reports
Configure Salesforce with Custom Fields
Customizing Profiles to Align with Your Business Needs
Getting a Head Start with Chatter
Managing Users and Troubleshooting Login Issues
Summarize Your Data with Highlights, Charts, and Dashboards