How to Prepare for any Salesforce Certification Exam

Where to start?

Want to know where the best place to start is when you are preparing for a Salesforce Certification?

A place you can find out what concepts and features you need to know? How many questions per section you will be asked? And how much time you should dedicate to each section?

That’s where the Salesforce Certification Guides are extremely useful. Read on to find out how to get the most out of them, and I’ll even include Salesforce Administrator Certification Breakdown at the end for you!

What we will cover

In this post, we will collate all the information we need to form the base of our study plan. This will allow us to know exactly what it is that we need to know to pass the Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam. It will enable us to learn faster, smarter, and more easily. By the end, we’ll have an incredibly useful reference point we can refer to in order to track how we are progressing and what it is that we need to know. Imagine it as a cheatsheet for the entire Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam.

So let’s take a look at the Administrator Certification Exam Guide. You can find the Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam Guide here: Click Me

What are Salesforce Certification Exam Guides?

The Salesforce Certification Exam Guides are an overview of the Certification Exam that you need to pass to achieve that Certification. Think of them as a high-level overview of the Certification Exam.

There is a wealth of information in these handy Exam Guides so let’s take a look at the Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam Guide and run through the information.

What useful information is in them?

The first few paragraphs explain a little about the exam and who it is aimed at, this will give you a good feel for the exam but doesn’t tell you any of the really good stuff.

But if you scroll down a little further, you will see the more useful sections; About the Exam, Recommended Training and Resources, and the Exam Outline.

These sections are where you will find all the golden nuggets of information that will help you prepare for the Certification Exam. They tell you everything you need to know to be successful and pass the exam.

How do I make use of it

While all of this information is fantastic, it’s not hugely useful in the form that it is, so we need to take the information and put it into a format that is more practical and easy to work with. My preferred method of doing this is through a spreadsheet so I can easily dissect the information and rearrange it in a format that is easy to understand and use to structure our learning, this will give us the best chance of passing our Salesforce Certification Exam, the first time.

We can use this Exam Guide to find out what it is that we need to know to pass the Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam!

First Things First!

The first thing that I want to point out is the Recommended Training and Resources, it’s vital that you get as hands-on with Salesforce as you can during your studies. It will really accelerate your learning and massively improve your knowledge retention as you are physically carrying out and completing tasks and challenges. It’s the best way to increase the retention of the information you are learning!

As you can see, we have a link to the Trailmix for “Prepare for Your Salesforce Administrator Credential”, this is the Trailmix that you should complete as you study for your Salesforce Admin Exam. This Trailmix will contain a lot of what you need to know and help you learn and understand the information needed to pass the Certification Exam.

Prepare for Your Salesforce Administrator Credential

Exam Overview

Next, we have the About the Exam part. There is some key information here that we need to extract, we have the total number of questions, the pass rate, and any prerequisites.

By knowing the total number of questions and the pass rate, we can calculate how many questions we need to get right to pass. For the Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam, there will be 60 questions that are scored, and the passing score is 65%, so 65% of 60 is 39. We now know that we need to get 39 out of 60 questions right.

But what can we expect those questions to be about? That’s where the Prerequisites and Exam Outline come in. If there is a prerequisite for any other Certifications, then I would strongly advise brushing up on your knowledge of that Certification; it will provide the foundational knowledge that you need to build on for this Certification.The Exam Outline is where all the good stuff is though!

We get a list of Sections and Objectives, and this is where we can really start extracting the information and reforming it into something that becomes a bit like a syllabus or curriculum. If we take this information and add it to our spreadsheet, we can easily understand what is required of us.


Before expanding any Exam Outline, we can see the sections and their weighting. We can then use these weighting to calculate how many questions we can expect on the exam for each section.

In the case of Configuration and Setup, the weighting is 20%, and we know there will be 60 questions in total. So 20% of 60 is 12, so we can expect to face 12 questions about Configuration and Setup during our Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam.

If we do this for each Section, we can build up a picture of how many questions for each section we will encounter, this information can then be translated into a priority of what to study. If we are going to face 12 questions on Configuration and Setup and only 4 on Productivity and Collaboration, then it’s quite logical to spend more time studying Configuration and Setup versus Productivity and Collaboration. Three times as much if we are getting really mathematical about it.

Now that we know how many questions we will get for each Section and where we need to concentrate our study efforts, how do we know what we need to study for each section?

That’s where Objectives come in!


When we expand each Section, we will be met with Objectives which give us more detailed information about what we can expect in each. 

As we read through these and transfer them to our Spreadsheet, we can expand on them and come up with an idea about what concepts we might be asked about during the exam.

If we take a look at the first Objective of the Object Manager and Lightning App Builder Section, it states, “Describe the standard object architecture and relationship model. (for example, standard object, parent/child, master-detail/lookup/junction relationships, and record types.)”. By analysing this Objective closely, we can see that we need to know about Standard Objects, Parent/Child Relationships, Master-Detail, Lookup, and Junction Relationships, and Record Types.

From that one Objective, we now know that we have 6 concepts that we need to understand; if we do this for every single Section and Objective we are quickly going to end up with a long list of concepts and features that we need to know.

This is our syllabus/curriculum, and its going to be what we use to create our Study plan.

The Final Step

If we take this one step further and create another tab, we can then create a checklist that we can use to make sure we are covering the concepts and features we’re likely to see on the exam. What I also tend to do is to create a few more columns, one to indicate if I have got hands-on and built the concept out in a Playground or Dev Org, another one to indicate if I understand the concept, and then a final one to track my confidence of the concept.

This gives me a really specific and granular way of knowing how ready I am for the Exam.

What does the end result look like?

Once we have done this for all of our Exam Guide we end up with a pretty comprehensive document. It becomes a kind of cheatsheet for the entire exam telling us what we need to know, where to focus our efforts and, more importantly, a way of tracking our progress.

I really believe that this approach has been a game-changer for me. I like knowing what I need to know and how I am progressing, having a document like this also helps me target any weak areas of knowledge.

To save you from creating this document yourselves, I’ll include a link allowing you to download it for free and save yourself some time! You can also check out some of the courses too!

If you’ve followed along (or taken the quicker route of downloading the Admin Exam Breakdown!) then you have just laid the foundations for us to build on. This document contains all the information that we need to design and implement our study plan; in the next couple of posts, we’re going to learn how to choose the most effective learning material for us and how to get the most out of it so we can learn faster, smarter, and more easily.

Stay tuned for the next post.

Thanks for reading!



author avatar
Dave Massey

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *