First of all, you may be wondering: why get certified at all? I wondered that myself for several years – and now, I’m very glad I did it. My reasons might not be the same as everyone else’s but they are darn good reasons, if I do say so myself:

Reason #1: It will look good on your resume. If this is not a good enough reason, see reason #2.

Reason #2: You will be taken more seriously as a SFDC admin. Personally, I don’t care about putting my certification on my resume – I’m not actively looking for employment. But my colleagues consider me a subject matter expert, and now I’m the go-to person for Salesforce questions.

Reason #3: It will force you to stay up-to-date on all of the latest releases. You don’t just get certified and then sit on your backside. You have to take a short online exam each quarter on the latest features and improvements. This has kept me up-to-date far better than the sporadic perusing of release notes a couple times a year.

Here’s a bonus reason: You don’t actually have to take the recommended training class to prepare for the exam! There are study guides, sample exam questions, and the help documentation in your own database (which, honestly, contains all of the answers you will need). Here are my recommendations for preparing for the Certified Administrator Exam:

  • Know that there is no way to cheat. Oh, don’t look so shocked – exam-takers of all ages have made an art form out of scribbling a couple of notes down in the hopes that they will be able to sneak a peek during a test – on their hand, their leg, wherever. Just know that this exam does not tolerate that practice – everything you know needs to be stored securely in your head.
  • Use Google (or your search engine of choice). Just search “ Certified Administrator sample exam” or similar, and you will get lots of sample exams, sample questions, and blogs with great advice.
  • Download the Study Guide. You can download the study guide from the Administrator Certification page – this page also shows a couple of sample questions. I found the Study Guide particularly useful because it gives you an exam outline complete with weighting – this way, you know which areas make up the largest portion of the exam.
  • Do lots of tedious reading. In my opinion, this is the main reason I passed my exam without formal training. I went to each and every link in the left-hand column of the Setup page, and clicked that little button in the upper right that says “Help for this Page.” I read all of the help pages that came up. I also took notes. Although you aren’t allowed to bring notes to the exam, writing things down will help cement the information in your mind.
  • Look for things in the documentation that would make good test questions. We’ve all taken multiple-choice exams, we know how the questions work. So when you see something in the documentation that says, “You can define this object in one of the four ways,” take note! That is a multiple-choice question just waiting to happen. Also be on the lookout for really specific statements such as, “Only one quote can sync to an opportunity at a time,” or “Each picklist value can have up to 40 characters.” Because you are dealing with multiple choice questions, they will be very specific. Memorization is crucial.
  • When you get tired of reading, watch video tutorials. The Learning Center has plenty of material to watch, and the interactive nature of the demos will help you retain more information.
  • Take it seriously. Spend several weeks studying. Get a good night’s sleep and eat properly beforehand, and show up early on exam day. The time allotted will be more than enough, so mark questions for review and come back to them if you get stumped.

I believe that anyone can prepare for the exam and pass it, without taking a class beforehand – if I did it, so can you! Now I’m going to apply this advice to preparing for the Certified Developer exam – so wish me luck.

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