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Preparing to Pass the Salesforce Admin (201) Certification: My Experience

I was introduced to Salesforce earlier this year when I attended the Salesforce User Group held in Singapore.  Although I already had certifications in other cloud platforms like ServiceNow, I had no knowledge or experience of Salesforce. What intrigued me was how everything around Salesforce was built with the business in mind – how to get, keep and sell to customers.  Everybody needs to do that, I thought, and customer success sounds like fun.  I decided to know more about what Salesforce is all about, and decided to take the Salesforce Admin (201) exam and get certified.

I learnt through some sources that the Administrator exam was considered the harder of the exams when compared to the formerly known Force.com Developer exam (recently replaced by the Platform App Builder exam) and that many do not pass on their first try. Knowing that, I was determined to pass it in the first time without relying on “Online paid Courses” which can sometimes cost around $4250!

The Salesforce Administrator exam is a 90-minute exam of 60 single or multi-select questions. The passing score is 65%, or 39 correctly answered questions. It costs $200 USD to take the exam and $100 USD to retake it. This is a PASS or FAIL results exam. You will not know what % of the exam you passed.

I challenged myself and prepared a strategy to go step by step:

  1. Referring to Administrator Study Guide & Objectives by Their Weightings

Referring to Administrator Exam outline gave me an insight knowledge of what topics are being covered in the exam and how I should prepare it depending on the weighting each topic contains.

  • Standard and Custom Objects (18%) [11 questions]
  • Security and Access (15%) [9 questions]
  • Reports & Dashboards (13%) [8 questions]
  • Data Management (11%) [7 questions]
  • User Setup (9%) or Sales Cloud Applications (9%) [5 questions/each]
  • Workflow Automation (7%) [4 questions]
  • Service Cloud Applications (6%) [4 questions]
  • Activity Management (3%) [2 questions]
  • Content and Folder Management (2%) [1 question]
  • Desktop and Mobile Configuration (2%) [1 question]
  • AppExchange (2%) [1 question]
  • Organization Setup (1%) [1 question]
  • Global User Interface (1%) [1 question]
  • Chatter (1%) [1 question]

Also I referred to the following links to know more about the content and prepare accordingly:
http://certification.salesforce.com/administrators  : About the exam and online courses available if someone wants to prepare through paid 5 days’ classes http://www.certifiedforce.com/salesforce-administrator-certication/salesforce-com-certified-administrator-exam-preparation-notes-tips: Salesforce.com Certified Administrator Exam Preparation Notes & Tips

  1. Personal Developer Org to play around:

The next step was to have my Personal Developer Org to familiarize myself with the configuration screens and the options available. I believe you retain more when you practice and for practicing one should have their own Org which is available for free (free personal developer edition org). Use it to practice the concepts you’ve learned.

  1. Trailhead: A gamification tool to enhance knowledge

Trailhead is Salesforce’s free online learning tool where you will find challenges and questions at the end of each unit to practice the concepts. For this I signed up into my own personal developer Org. Following are the trails which I covered as essentials to prepare for Admin exam and side by side practicing in my Org:

  1. Testing my knowledge:

The next step was to test my knowledge on each topic. For example, how well do I know the concepts related to Analytics, Reports and Dashboards which holds 13% weighting. And there was a point when I realised that learning only through Trailhead will not be sufficient rather I have to refer and study more through other sources to have a detailed understanding. And here comes the next step…

  1. YouTube Videos and Google Search:

This is something which we use in our daily routine. There are thousands of videos which are available on YouTube which are really really useful for the preparation of exam. Following is the link (videos of Training at Dreamforce) I referred to, which gives hands on experience but there are many of these. ADM 201 Study Guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSp61khlP9s&index=1&list=PLfdcymiARDtq5Wkva93pOXxaAjnDqKWvz

And of course Google is the master of all keys. Any terminology which I wasn’t clear of or any topic which I wanted to know more about simply googled it. I reviewed the results that were produced by Salesforce Docs team (i.e. URLs containing salesforce.com). I found the Help & Training docs most helpful. During this process I used to make some personalised notes of concepts, with particular attention to feature limitations, things to consider and be aware of. Like how many standard Objects/Profiles are available in Salesforce and what are these OR how much storage does each edition holds in terms of data, file etc. and much more.

  1. Sample Papers/ Mock Exams: A way to increase confidence:

Once I’d done sufficient studying, was comfortable with the higher weighted concepts and have some configuration experience under my belt, it was time to test my knowledge with mock exams. I preferred to go for mock exams where after each question answered I got to know whether my answer was right or wrong before moving on to the next question (with explanation to the questions answered wrong) rather than submitting all the answers together and knowing the overall result (32 answers right out of 60).

Some of the good resources I found helpful includes:

  1. Taking Mock Exams Daily:

For 2 weeks my agenda was to take as many quizzes as I can and review my notes. I used to perform miserably when I started taking mock exams and could highlight the areas where I need to study more to clear my concepts. So taking quizzes and accordingly clearing certain concepts worked simultaneously for me. My strategy was to solve quizzes (new and already attempted ones) till I scored more than 80% in each because only then I would have believed that I am ready to take the exam considering the fact that passing is 65%.

So how did I do?

I’m pleased to tell you that I passed, first time!  I’m now the proud owner of Salesforce Admin (201) certification and look forward to helping CloudGo’s customers with the skills and capability I’ve learned.

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