Lauren Zolp: “My top tips for passing your first Salesforce Certification”

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My hands trembled and I stared at the cursor, watching it make a circle as I waited for one of two words to come up: pass or fail. My heart skipped a beat when I saw: PASS.

I hadn’t felt quite ready to take the exam, as you hear so many people talk about failing their first time. Failure is never comfortable, but it took me becoming comfortable with the idea of failing to gain the courage to actually sit for the exam. I think we, as veterans and military spouses, have a unique trait: and that is continuing despite failure and disappointment. There is not one of us that has had the perfect military career, or if you are a spouse: the perfect time planning and concurring with your spouse’s orders. We are unique in the ability that when failure would discourage others, it does not discourage us. But this is irrelevant, because I know all of you will pass your first time!

The purpose of this post is to arm you with the arsenal that you need to pass the test on the first try, like I did. I am not some whiz, or some exception to the rule, I simply did a lot of research and knew what to expect.

A little about my story is that I was employed within 28 days of taking my first trail (Admin Beginner) and certified within 2 months. The opportunities within this platform are boundless, but having the administrator certification is the first step.

  1. To start, before I ever tried to take my exam, I studied Trailhead religiously. The three trails: Admin Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced helped me tremendously. You must understand the platform before attempting this test, and if you don’t – you will fail. Understanding the platform is paramount. The test makers at Salesforce do a really good job of testing to see if you actually understand the platform, rather than if you can rote memorize answers (they are tricky – watch out!).
  2. After doing those trails, and many others, I purchased the Salesforce administrator course on Udemy by Mike Wheeler. Essentially this course is a 10 hour breakdown of the sections on the admin exam. Some of the things which I recall Mike saying in the course were actually on my exam, so taking this course may benefit you. He also goes over testing strategies, some of which I will go over later.
  3. After finishing the Mike Wheeler course, I went straight to Quizlet to start studying some of the study sets on there. You want to be really wary when going over flash cards on Quizlet, as a lot of the answers are often wrong, but these two sets that I am going to share with you are primarily (if not totally) correct. A lot of questions on the actual exam are similarly worded, or have similar situations. Know both of these sets, and WHY the answers on here are what they are, and you will be fine! This set This set was very helpful as was this additional set of cards.
  4. Now for test taking strategies: The test is 60 questions, and you have 90 minutes to complete it.
    • The passing score is 67% meaning that you have to get 40/60 questions right. If you do not know the answer to a question, you will have a chance to select that question to return to later. Do not get stressed, and just move on if you do not know the answer to something.
    • Sometimes the test questions will have something in them that helps you figure out other questions.
    • My advice is to go through the whole test and select the questions that you aren’t absolutely sure of and go back through them again.
    • When at the end of the test after you have gone through it again, count how many you are sure of, and if that number is over 40, go ahead and submit the test!
    • Don’t second guess yourself, and always go with your gut. The worst thing that can happen is that you fail, and know what to study more on.
    • Take the practice exams that are on the Salesforce Ben, and David Liu also has one on his site. Practice and study as much as you can, and soon you will join the community of certified salesforce administrators!

Don’t underestimate this opportunity, nor yourself. This opportunity can turn your life around, but more specifically as veterans and mil spouses, you have the skills that a company not only wants – but needs. You handle stress well, you do what needs to be done no matter what – and mostly – you are leaders. Don’t forget this when it comes time to interview. When you land that *dream job* don’t forget to turn back around and help the next person in line, because none of us would be here without the help of others.

One last note: if you do not pass on your first try, remember this: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, and it is the courage to continue that counts” -Winston Churchill. Always try one more time.

Lauren Zolp – A VetForce alum, Air Force veteran and Salesforce product manager at Figo Pet Insurance



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