• Nick McMullen

How to Pass the Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam in 30 Days



January 2nd, 2020, was my first day working in the Salesforce ecosystem. On January 28th, 2020, I passed the Salesforce Administrator Certification exam.


Was it luck, or a fluke?


Maybe luck helped, but passing the Salesforce Administrator Certification exam in a short amount of time happened thanks to a lot of studying and hands-on practice. Those 26 days I spent studying cemented my career as one entwined with Salesforce, and getting my Salesforce Admin Certification helped to jumpstart my journey into the Salesforce Ecosystem.



What is the Salesforce Certified Administrator Certification?

The Salesforce Admin Cert is a great indicator that a person has a foundational understanding of the Salesforce platform, and the administrator certification is a prerequisite for other certifications — whether you’re on an administrator or developer path. In my case, earning a Salesforce Administrator Certification is the first step I took toward my career goal of becoming a Salesforce developer.


The Salesforce Administrator exam should be attempted by someone who has a wide-ranging base of knowledge of Salesforce and all of the ways it can be customized to suit organizational needs.


Is the Salesforce Admin certification exam easy or hard?

Like all Salesforce certification exams, the difficulty of the Salesforce Admin certification exam is subjective.


The exam consists of 65 questions that change frequently for each test taker. Salesforce releases happen three times per year (spring, summer, fall), which means test questions need to change often to reflect updates that happen with each Salesforce release.


To speedily pass your Salesforce Administrator exam, you should take any subsequent exam attempts during the same release so the questions that could be asked are the same.



Section Categories for the Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam

The Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam is broken into sections, and each section has a corresponding percentage indicating the weight of the section on the exam.

Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam Guide

You should always use the official Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam Guide to determine topics to study and section weighting. The section categories or weight percentages can change several times each year.


The following is an example of how the sections could be organized:

  1. Organizational Setup: 3%

  2. User Setup: 7%

  3. Security and Access: 13%

  4. Standard and Custom Objects: 14%

  5. Sales and Marketing Applications: 14%

  6. Service and Support Applications: 13%

  7. Activity Management and Collaboration: 3%

  8. Data Management: 10%

  9. Analytics-Reports and Dashboards: 10%

  10. Workflow/Process Automation: 8%

  11. Desktop and Mobile Administration: 3%

  12. AppExchange: 2%


As you can see, there are significantly more questions in some sections versus others. While it is very important to understand all of the sections above, you should prioritize studying the heavier-weighted categories that will be most difficult for you to grasp.


Once I felt I had a sturdy foundation of knowledge under me, I began to focus on the sections with a 10% weighting or more.



Four Strategies to use When Working Toward Earning a Salesforce Administrator Certification

When I was preparing to earn a Salesforce Administrator Credential, I spent a whole lot of time (at least 6 hours per day, Monday-Friday) combining four strategies to maximize my chances of passing the test:

  1. Trailhead

  2. Focus on Force

  3. Salesforce Administrator Certification Prep Exam

  4. Trailblazer Community Networking


1. Study the Best Trailhead Modules for the Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam

Trailhead is a great resource for building the foundation of your Salesforce skills. Not only is it developed by Salesforce, but it is constantly updated with the new Salesforce features.


There are small-scale projects — called badges — you can complete in as little as 30 minutes, or large-scale sequences — called Trailmixes — that provide a deeper understanding of the material. You should also consider attempting a superbadge, which is a large-scale project that is more challenging and serves as a great test of skill.


Trailmix - Prepare for Your Salesforce Administrator Credential

Prepare for Your Salesforce Administrator Credential

A very handy Trailmix put together by Salesforce, Prepare for Your Salesforce Administrator Credential, helped me dive deeper into the Salesforce ecosystem. It lays out an extensive study guide for the exam as well as a step-by



The estimated time the Trailmix takes is upwards of 50 hours, but that could be shorter or longer depending on the amount of time it takes to grasp a certain topic. It’s important to understand the material in this Trailmix, as that will be your foundation of knowledge for any further Salesforce studying you do. The great thing about this Trailmix (like all other Trailhead content) is it’s completely free, and it can be completed on your own time.


There are a few superbadges included in the Trailmix, and those do often require a higher-level of knowledge to complete than a regular Trailhead badge. Accomplishing these superbadges can help you develop stronger problem-solving skills, as the directions are more open ended to let you roam free in a Trailhead Playground to get your bearings.


The hardest, yet most rewarding superbadge I passed was the Business Administration Specialist. It combines everything from the Salesforce Administrator Trailmix into one project, and accomplishing the superbadge is a great morale booster.



2. Use Focus on Force to Study for the Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam

Another place to study for the exam is Focus on Force, a third-party Salesforce blog that offers in-depth certification courses to help you study. The wide array of knowledge offered on the site is incredibly valuable, especially for a person new to Salesforce.


Focus on Force offers study guides and courses for every Salesforce certification, all of which you are able to work through on your own time. There are support forums for you and your fellow students to ask questions and solicit advice, and all courses are updated with every new Salesforce release.

The Administrator Certification Study Guide is an easier-to-digest exam guide that will help you learn the topics faster with the use of review flashcards that include helpful diagrams and screenshots.



3. Take the Official Salesforce Certification Administrator Prep Exam

If you’re ready to truly put your skills to the test, you can attempt the official Salesforce Certification Administrator Prep Exam. It is a $20 practice test that is very similar to the real thing, and it is written by the same people who write the official proctored exam.


Taking the Salesforce Certification Administrator Prep exam gets you in the mindset of taking the real exam, as it gives you some practice with how the questions are structured and how the provided answers are phrased.


Once you’ve finished the practice exam, you will receive your section-by-section results. These results show you the sections in which you are well versed and identify areas you will need to continue studying.


When I received my practice exam results, I realized I needed more studying in sections where I thought I had a good grasp on the material. These results are invaluable as you can use them to fine tune your study plans before you make a certification exam attempt.



4. Get Support from Other Salesforce Trailblazers

While getting acclimated to the Salesforce ecosystem, it’s a good idea to make connections inside the world of Salesforce. This can be accomplished by attending networking events, webinars, or even just doing quick searches on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Salesforce Trailblazer Community Networking Opportunities
Nick McMullen and Angela Michael at a 2019 KOP~Force event.

I was very blessed to be able to turn to any of my colleagues at CRM Science for support. Everyone was eager to see me succeed, and many helped my studying routine by providing me with their own study guides, helping me through practice problems, or just giving me the morale support to keep studying.


Interacting with other people who work in Salesforce — whether they’re users, admins, developers, analysts, or anyone in between — will build a foundation for a Salesforce career. In my experience, any Salesforce professional will jump at the opportunity to give guidance to someone new to the ecosystem!


When it is safe to gather in person again, CRM Science regularly hosts KOP~Force, a King of Prussia-based community group for Salesforce professionals. You can find local events using the Trailblazer Community Groups network.


Virtual Trailblazer Community Events

Due to the current pandemic, in-person networking events have screeched to a halt, but the transition to online networking events means they are now more accessible than ever before.

Virtual Trailblazer Community Events

Salesforce as well as many Salesforce Consulting Partners, like CRM Science, host educational Salesforce events both in-person and virtually. To find virtual events hosted by Trailblazer Community Groups, visit this page. Then, sort the list using the ‘Event types’ dropdown box to select the boxes to show virtual events.



Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam: Taking it Online Versus Onsite

There are two options to consider when planning your Admin Exam attempt:

  • Online Proctoring

  • Onsite Proctoring

Each method has its benefits and drawbacks.

Online proctoring

Online proctoring provides the advantage of being able to take the exam from the comfort of your own home, but you have the added responsibility of making sure you will be able to take your exam uninterrupted as well as having the necessary equipment and adequate testing space. The exam will be taken in a secure app on your computer that uses webcams and screen sharing so the proctor can make sure you are taking it correctly.


Onsite proctoring offers the advantage of not having to worry about the details around taking the test. You can show up to one of the certified test-taking centers and take it while only focusing on the exam material.

Onsite proctoring

The disadvantages of taking the Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam onsite are:

  • You don’t get the luxury of testing in your own space.

  • There could be minor disruptions in the exam center that could distract you.

  • The availability of onsite testing centers can be limited due to geographic location or public health restrictions.


What To Do After Passing the Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam

The first thing you should do after you have successfully earned the administrator certification is recognize your massive achievement. You did it! You have made an incredible advancement in your career and countless opportunities are open to you.


Once you’ve properly celebrated, you should send a note of thanks to anyone who has helped you on this journey. A quick ‘thank you’ Tweet, LinkedIn IM or email can go a long way in helping someone realize the impact they had on you.


Share Salesforce Certification Status with the Trailblazer Community

Share Salesforce Certification Status with the Trailblazer Community

Then, be sure to add the certification to your resume. You did all this hard work, and you deserve to be recognized for it.


It’s important to add your resume to LinkedIn, and why not post about it on there and on Twitter? A little humble brag never did anyone wrong. Once you’ve added your certification to LinkedIn and your Trailblazer Community Profile, you’ll begin to realize how important it is as the recruiters from around the globe begin to find your profiles.


Connect Webassessor Account to Trailblazer Profile

Once you’ve bragged about your accomplishment, don’t forget to connect your Webassessor account to your Trailblazer profile as well. Doing this will allow all future certifications to be automatically added to your Trailblazer profile.

Connect Webassessor Account to Trailblazer Profile

Follow these steps to connect your Webassessor Account to your Trailblazer Profile:

  1. First, navigate to this webpage: Connect Webassessor and log in with Salesforce

  2. Enter the unique verification code that was sent to you and click 'Link Accounts'

  3. Then, go to your Salesforce Partners profile settings and enable these settings:

  • Salesforce Certifications & Trailhead Badges: Check ‘Show Salesforce certifications on my profile’ as true

  • Connect Certification Account: Check: ‘Show Trailhead badges on my profile’


What is a Salesforce Certification Maintenance Exam?

Once you have achieved your certification, you aren’t quite off the hook. To prove you are knowledgeable of new releases on the platform, you’ll be required to take the Salesforce Administrator Certification Maintenance Exam at least once per year so your certification will not expire.


Every Salesforce release comes with maintenance exams for all certification holders, and everyone must complete them to keep their certifications valid.

Salesforce Certification Maintenance Exam

Maintenance exams are hosted on Trailhead, and they are very simple to complete. Completing Salesforce Certification Maintenance Exams usually takes less than 25 minutes.


The exams consist of an overview of any pertinent updates to the platform from your certification area of expertise, and they include up to 10 multiple choice questions you can get wrong an unlimited number of times.


Your maintenance exam timeline might differ from other certification holders, so be sure to check out the official Certification Maintenance Schedule. If you would like an example of what the maintenance exams look like, check out the Administrator Certification Maintenance (Spring '20) on Trailhead.


Conclusion & Resources

It’s normal to be skeptical of something new, and even more normal to be skeptical of something that will cost you money when you’re not sure what kind of return you’ll be getting.


When looking for Salesforce jobs or beginning a career in the Salesforce ecosystem, it is standard to find listings that have certain Salesforce certifications as prerequisites for jobs. Getting a Salesforce Certification not only shows you are qualified to work with Salesforce, but it also shows you have a drive to learn new things to improve your skill set. There are countless testimonies that say getting a Salesforce Certification is worth it, as your value goes up in addition to your confidence.


Contact CRM Science Salesforce Consultants

Contact CRM Science Salesforce Consultants

Anyone in the Salesforce ecosystem should be familiar with the phrase “Click, Not Code.” Oftentimes developers want to overcomplicate things by writing fancy triggers, classes, or Visualforce pages that can be accomplished through the platform's native functionality.


Overcomplicating Salesforce tasks wastes precious developer time and can create a snowball effect of unforeseen problems that didn’t exist before. That’s why CRM Science Salesforce developers earn their administrator certifications so they gain a deep understanding of the platform.


In addition, every member of our team has one or more Salesforce certifications. Our company culture encourages our team to expand their knowledge of the platform and stay on top of the latest Salesforce innovations. We believe this allows the consultant to develop a deeper understanding of the work and the client.


Contact CRM Science Salesforce Consultants to chat about your Salesforce projects.



Nick McMullen

Salesforce Developer

CRM Science


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