Updated: Jan 7, 2022
I wasn’t joking when I said that Salesforce gives you everything that you need to learn and pass each certification, one key aspect is the exam guide. Think of the exam guide as your syllabus, your checklist of what you need to know in order to pass the exam and get your Salesforce Certification. The exam guide is a great starting point to create a highly effective study plan.
Let’s look at the Trailhead Salesforce Administrator exam guide as an example - Exam Guide
The first thing we should do is have a quick scan of the objectives and their weightings so we can identify the key areas to focus on;
As we can see, there are 2 heavily weighted areas, 2 medium weighted areas, and 3 lightly weighted areas. I would strongly suggest that when studying you focus on the more heavily weighted areas as you will get more questions about those than the lightly weighted areas.
The most heavily weighted areas are Configuration and Setup (20%), and Object Manager and Lightning App Builder (20%). The medium weighted areas are Workflow/Process Automation (16%), Data and Analytics Management (14%). And the lightly weighted areas are Sales and Marketing Applications (12%), Service and Support Applications (11%), and Productivity and Collaboration (7%).
Next let's take a step back and have a look at the first part of the guide, About the Exam, we can use this to further structure our studying.
By using the first part of the exam guide we know that there are going to be 60 questions, so using this knowledge combined with percentage weighting of each area we can calculate the number of questions to expect for each area. We can also work out what the passing mark will be, to pass we need to achieve a minimum of 65% which is 39 meaning that we need to get at least 39 questions right.
Let's look at Configuration and Setup, that area covers 20% of the exam, and we know there are going to be 60 questions in total. So 14% of 60 is 12 meaning that there will be 12 questions in this area. Now let's look at Productivity and Collaboration which covers 7%, 7% of 60 is 4.2 meaning that there will be between 4 and 5 questions in this area. This further confirms that we need to spend more time focusing on Configuration and Setup rather than Productivity and Collaboration.
If we tally up the two most heavily weighted areas (40%), and the two medium weighted areas (30%) and use the method we have we know that these areas account for around 42 questions, it’s highly unlikely that we will get every single question right in these areas however by focusing more on these areas rather than the lower weighted ones we give ourselves a much better chance of passing. Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that we should focus exclusively on these areas and neglect the others, I’m suggesting that we should spend more time on an area that has 20% of the overall score rather than one that has 7% of the overall score.
The final piece of information we can extract from the exam guide is a list of key concepts that we should focus on, by identifying these key concepts we can really nail down what we need to know. You should do this for every single area, it's a really important part of understanding what you need to know. A great example of this is the Workflow/Process Automation area, which is worth 16%;
There are three bullet points for this area and by taking a little time to think about what Salesforce wants us to know we can spot the key concepts that we should learn and understand. The first bullet point refers to identifying the most appropriate automation solution based on the capabilities of the tool, this means that we need to understand what each automation tool does, the advantages of each, the disadvantages of each, when we should use them, and when we shouldn’t. I would focus on really getting to know Approval Processes, Workflow Rules, Process Builders, and Flows. Bullet point two tells us that we need to know Flows in detail, so again I would really focus on understanding what they do, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages, and when we should or shouldn’t use them. I would also look at scenarios where a Flow would be more effective than other automation tools. The final bullet point refers to Approval Processes, so again I would follow the same path as we did with Flows are really get to know them inside out.
Doing this then gives us a checklist that we can use to help structure our study, we know we need to know;
The differences between Approval Processes, Workflow Rules, Process Builders, and Flows
When to use, and when not to use each one
Flows in detail
Approval Processes in detail
If we do this for each section and objective of the exam guide we will end up with a pretty complete study guide that highlights all the key areas that we need to know.
I hope this post has been helpful and helps you in your study!