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Your Next Salesforce Exam: 5 Key Tips

Louise Lockie in a Trailblazer hoodie next to an illustrated Astro working on their laptop
Certified Instructor, Louise Lockie, shares her top Salesforce exam tips.

Learn the five-part strategy for choosing, preparing, taking, and passing Salesforce exams.

Since beginning my Salesforce journey in 2012, I’ve sat for many Salesforce exams and earned 20 Salesforce certifications. I’m now a Certified Instructor! Along the way, I’ve learned valuable lessons about what it takes to prepare and pass your Salesforce exams and how to plan your Salesforce career.

Having a plan that helps you decide the “what, when, where, and hows” of your exam path can make the process much easier! Here’s my 5-part strategy to take your exam prep to the next level and set yourself up for success on your next Salesforce exam.

Which Salesforce exam should I take next?

There is no right or wrong answer. Look at which certifications fit your current role and career goals. The variety of career paths you can go down with Salesforce skills is astounding. At the time I’m writing this there are over 40 certifications to choose from!

If you’re not sure where to start, you can fill out this free Career Match questionnaire to identify the career matches for you. It used to be more obvious which certification to go for next based on whether you were an Admin, Developer, or Consultant, but now there are many more options for Salesforce exams in other exciting career paths like Sales Professional, Designer, and Marketer.

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Where should I take my next exam?

You have options! Trailblazers can take their exam in person, online, or even at a Salesforce event. 

  • Onsite proctored exams: Register in advance (this is required!) to ensure your preferred date and time are available. 
  • Online proctored exams: Before you schedule your exam, review the requirements and the test-taking policies. You can register and launch an exam on the same day. 
  • Salesforce events: At Salesforce events like Dreamforce and TrailblazerDX, Trailblazer Bootcamps bring the Trailblazer Community together and give you the opportunity to fast-track your certification path with role-based learning tracks, expert-led sessions, and a certification exam. 

How should I prepare for my next Salesforce exam?

A systematic approach to exam prep gives you a solid framework to use each time you want to get exam-ready. Here’s the step-by-step process I recommend:

Book your selected exam to give yourself a deadline and as motivation to focus and plan. 

  1. Book your selected exam to give yourself a deadline and as motivation to focus and plan. 
  2. Find the official Salesforce Certification Exam Guide for the exam you plan on taking. There are a lot of unofficial guides out there, but you should get your information straight from the source. 
  3. Read the audience description to learn more about the specific requirements for your credential, including general knowledge, competency, and experience expectations. 
  4. Capture key details to understand important information, like how much time you’re given to complete the exam, the number of scored and non-scored (if applicable) questions, and the minimum passing score. 
  5. Create a folder to collect key resources. I like to collate a list of recommended resources from the official Salesforce Certification Exam Guides into one document, adding respective links. I also screenshot key slides from online training, documentation, and community resources to keep these fresh in my mind and all in one place. 
  6. Find the exam outline listed within the exam guide and create a separate document for each section of the outline. So, if we were preparing for the Salesforce Certified Administrator exam, we would create a separate document for Configuration and Setup, Object Manager and Lightning App Builder, Sales and Marketing Applications…and so on, and so forth. 
  7. Number/order your study materials within your folder according to how much each section is weighted towards the exam total, according to the exam outline, and the number of questions that must equate to (which you can calculate). Then, read through the material for each section, highlighting the topics you need to review and strikethrough any you’ve covered. You’ll get a better sense of both as you study. By becoming familiar with the number of questions in each section of the exam, you can figure out how to prioritize your studying. For instance, using the Salesforce Certified Administrator exam as an example again, you can see that the Configuration and Setup section is 20% of the total exam so you would want to study up on that section as it is a large portion of the exam.
Exam outline for Salesforce Administer exam.
Salesforce Administrator exam outline from the official Exam Guide.

🔥Hot Tip: How should I tackle the exam itself?

Take your time, and remember to breathe! You want to remain calm and allow plenty of time to set up your room/login or get to the official test center. And ensure you’re comfortable – I like to make sure I’m hydrated and apply a fresh coat of lip balm before I start. 

When it’s go time, work through the questions carefully. Read every word of the question before looking at the answer choices. Look out for a reason why the answer might not be correct!

When taking any exam, it can be stressful to wonder how well you’re doing as you go through the questions. This is where my most popular Salesforce exam tip comes in. Since this tip involves scratch paper and a pencil, it’s only applicable to in-person exams taken at a testing center. But don’t worry, online proctored exams still include on-screen notepads. This process may just look a bit different.

Once you’ve read carefully through the question and settled upon an answer, I recommend using scratch paper to track your confidence level for each response. Create three columns: 

  • Column A: I am confident that this answer is correct.  
  • Column B: I have made an educated guess.
  • Column C: I have a guess, pure and simple.

Use the mark for review tick box whenever you know the question deserves another look based on whether you scored it in columns A, B, or C. As you work through the questions, you can also glance at your columns to quickly calculate if you’re on track for a passing score. This is where knowing the passing score and how many correct answers this equates to is essential.

Once you reach the last question, complete a final count of your tallies. How are you doing? If you guessed your tallies correctly, would you pass? Your final count should help you prioritize which questions to look back at. Prioritize taking a second look at the exam questions you marked as an “educated guess” as you may be more likely to figure out the correct answer. 

Pass or fail – we always learn

Of course, passing an exam warrants a full-on celebration (congrats!). And, if you didn’t pass this time, don’t despair. FAIL stands for “first attempt in learning. Review the section-level feedback you receive to give you an idea of your areas of improvement. For each section covered in the exam, you’ll receive percentage scores. The sections directly relate to the sections listed in the exam outline of the exam guide. Most importantly, remember to book another attempt as soon as possible while the subject matter is still fresh in your mind. 

Now that you know these key steps to exam success, you can confidently tackle your Salesforce Certification exam. Best of luck, Trailblazer!

Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite resources:

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Headshot of Louise Lockie smiling wearing glasses
Louise Lockie Consultant, Architect, & Instructor at Tangara Consulting Ltd

Louise is a member of the Salesforce MVP Hall of Fame, a London Salesforce Women in Tech Community Group Leader, a London's Calling Co-organiser, a Certified Instructor, and a 20x Certified Independent Consultant. When she’s not working with clients to build and support their orgs as a consultant, she’s developing and delivering Salesforce training as an Instructor.

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