Platform App Builder Certification Guide & Tips

Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder_RGBAfter 6 months or so after receiving the first email about the new Platform App Builder certification, I have eventually got around to revising and passing it. This certification has come about for a very good reason, mainly to replace the old DEV401 (Certified Developer) and to split up declarative and programmatic customisations. The old DEV401 certification was just about declarative customisations to, that is the point and click way of doing things. This was a bit confusing for employers and users, as you could essentially call yourself a Salesforce Developer, even though you were not a developer in the classic sense. The next step up from this was the Advanced Developer certification, this was a huge jump as essentially it was the “real” developer certification where APEX & Visualforce were the main topics. The exam that I took was the transition exam which includes 20 questions and gives you 30 minutes to complete, this is available to all DEV401 holders.

In replacement of these two older and now retired certifications, Salesforce has brought out 3 new ones. Platform App builder for us declarative guys and girls, Developer I for those getting started with Salesforce in a programmatic fashion, and Developer II for the advanced dev’s among us. In this guide I’m going to talk about the differences between the old DEV401 and the Platform App Builder, resources to use and some overall tips. Enjoy!

DEV401 Vs Platform App Builder

As previously mentioned, the Platform App Builder replaces the declarative DEV401 exam. If you were studying for the old exam or are in the process of revising for your transition exam I’m going to give you some good news, the App Builder exam contains 90-95% of the content from the old exam. It’s probably better to think of the App Builder as more of an updated Dev exam than an entirely new one. This exam takes away some of the very old outdated features and adds in some of the newer features such as Salesforce1, Lightning App Builder, Lightning Process Builder & Social features. One important fact that you will realise when reading through the study guidethis exam does not include any of the major features released at Dreamforce & Winter ’16. I’m mainly talking about the new lightning experience layout, as this was brought out after this new certification that came out around the end of summer.


As always before I I take any exam, I look over the study guide and most importantly the weighting and objectives. Looking it over I felt pretty confident (As I’m sure anyone with 3 years + experience would), apart from some of the newly added sections. However, even though I felt confident with my ability to implement these features, Salesforce certifications are infamously good at testing your real knowledge about the platform. In this section of my post I will talk about what I did to revise and some of the sections that I concentrated on. Fundamentals – Some of the sections from the Certified Administrator exam are as prevelant here. Aspects like Custom Objects, Lookup relationships, Master-detail relationships, Workflow rules, Validation Rules, Custom Fields, Field Types, Record Types, Page Layouts, Formula Fields, Roll-up summary fields and approval processes, all need to be known inside out. This was a section that I was very comfortable on but still made sure I explored Salesforce to refresh my memory. If you are not however, the best place to start is with a mixture of Fundamentals PDF and Trailhead.

AppExchange – The AppExchange provides many free and paid applications that can help you with business problems. You will need to know when it is sensible to use an application from the AppExchange, build it in house programmatically or declaratively.

trailhead_module_lightning_app_builderLightning App Builder – This feature has been around for a while now but a lot of us have not yet had a chance to explore it. You will need to know what it is, how it is used and what elements can be placed on a lightning page. You will also need to know the difference between a lightning page and component. The Trailhead module linked gave me a complete overview and a great introduction to the App Builder.

trailhead_module_lightning_connectLightning Connect – This feature was introduced last year and allows you to connect databases from outside of Salesforce. It allows you to display information that exists outside of Salesforce as an “External Object” so from the user’s point of view there is no distinction. The Trailhead module linked walks you through how to connect an external object, take note of the steps involved and the external and indirect lookup types.

trailhead_module_lightning_process_automationLightning Process Builder & Visual Flow – The Lightning Process Builder is relatively new compared to workflow rules, but it features heavily in this exam. You will need to know the ins and outs of all business process features and when to use one over the other. The linked Trailhead module takes you over Workflows, Approvals, Lightning Process Builder & Visual Flow

Person Accounts – Person accounts enables Salesforce users that serve consumers not businesses in a B2C model. It allows you to create a new type of account called “Person Accounts”, you will need to know what they are, how they are different from normal accounts and some of their key behaviours. The linked Salesforce article tells you everything you need to know.

Social Accounts – Social accounts in Salesforce allow you to connect your Twitter & Facebook accounts to essentially add a contact’s social network to their contact record. Allowing you to view their up to date information and activity if you follow or have them added. You will need to know the parameters around this feature, what does and doesn’t work and the security involved.

trailhead_module_salesforce1_mobile_basicsSalesforce1 Mobile – Salesforce1 introduced a great mobile app and also a feature called quick actions. You will need to know how to customise the Salesforce1 mobile app as well as implement global & object specific quick actions. Get to know the differences between the two in the Linked trailhead module.

Order of Execution – The order of execution of various tools such as validation rules, workflows, APEX before & after updates all affect how Salesforce works. For example Lighting process builder fires after workflows, this needs to be taken into consideration when using the two to build an application or process. Study the attached link to make sure you know the rough idea of the order each type of element fires.

Managed Vs Unmanaged packages – You are guaranteed to get a question on managed vs unmanaged packages so make sure you know the differences. These can include updating the package, versioning and what you can change in each package. Study the attached link, this will give you an overview of everything you need.

Changing Field Types – Salesforce gives us the ability to change a field type after we have created it. But depending on what the field type is and what you want to change it to, it may result in data loss, for example changing to checkbox from text will always result in data loss. Revise what fields are the exception and which will almost certainly cause you data loss.


  • The App Builder exam is very broad but it does not go into extreme depth, you will not need to know how to implement person account successfully or how to build a lightning component. But you will need to have an overview of a lot of Salesforce & Force.coms features.
  • Make sure you go over the weighting of each section in the study guide and revise accordingly. The social section as described above is worth 3% of the exam so you can only expect 1 or 2 questions, while the process and automation section is worth 27% therefore a quarter of the exam is going to be on this.
  • Make sure you read other guides as well as my own, each person has a different take on the exam and may provide you with different insights.
  • Another option is to look at Simplilearn’s certification training course, a very comprehensive option with full training guidelines
  • Process of elimination is your friend! If you can’t work out which answer is right, try and work out which answers are absurd!
  • The App Builder mock exam is available to Salesforce Ben Members here

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36 thoughts on “Platform App Builder Certification Guide & Tips

  1. Great article Ben.

    Have been looking for something this detailed about the transition exam – has convinced me to put some time aside and smash it out.

    Look forward to seeing the App Builder quiz to test myself

  2. Well I’ve just passed it.
    Frankly I found it more challenging than the administrator exam I passed last month. For example I finished the Adm 45 minutes before the deadline and took my time to review, but this one only 8 minutes before.

    Thanks Ben, your tips and quizz helped again (although I agree the quizz needs a refresh)

    A few tips:
    – Be sure to know most considerations for field update actions, especially whenever the update is triggered by a workflow or a process.
    – Questions about field type change may be different than “will it cause data loss?”, more like “what may you loose (pick two)”
    – I expected more questions on sandboxes, change sets, Salesforce1, actions/buttons/links. Got a couple of each at most.
    – Review the classics: rollup summary fields, record types, report charts, object/record access, relationships etc.

    Good luck everyone

  3. Hi Ben,

    Thanks again for another insightful article. I have until the end of March to pass this exam and was wondering if you have an ETA as to when you’ll get a practice quiz up as I’ve read you plan to make one. All the best!

  4. Hi Ben,
    I’m studying to pass the App Builder exam (Spring ’16). Could you post a mock exam? I’ve already tried your quiz for Developer exam…it was useful! 🙂

  5. Hi Ben…. I am following your blog from the day i saw it…its really very helpful and i am just following this along with additional documentations. The quiz is very helpful and got an idea on which area in need to concentrate.I have conflict in few dumps i found. I have answered as per my understanding. Request you to give your best possible answers.

    1.Which statement is true when defining a create custom action for the contact object? (2)
    A. The create action will respect validation rules
    B. The create action can pre-define contact field values
    C. The create action will ignore field requirements
    D. The create action allows a user to select a record type
    Ans: A, D/B…….not sure D or B

    2.All contact’s mailing post code should match the account shipping postal code. How to do it
    A. use NOT EQUAL operator
    B. use compare operator
    C. use distance()
    D. geolocation()
    Ans: B

    3. Need to change ownership when field of custom object changed (1)
    A. Apex trigger ?
    B. Validation Rule
    C. Assignment Rule
    D. Visual Workflow
    Ans: A
    4. UC would like to automatically assign a specific permission set to new users. How can they do that?
    A. create a workflow rule on the user object to assign a permission set
    B. create a flow on the user object to assign permission set
    C. create a lighting process on the user object to launch a flow
    Ans: B or C…not sure
    5. The organization wide default for a custom object is set to private. The supervisor profile grants view access to the same object. A user with the supervisor profile is also listed as the manager on the user detail records for a subordinate. What is preventing the supervisor from viewing record owned by subordinates?(2)
    A. Organization wide settings for the custom object grant access to their users with the same role
    B. The supervisor’s role is not above the subordinate’s role in the hierarchy
    C. Organization-wide settings for the custom object do not grant access using hierarchy.
    D. The supervisor requires a permission set in order to view the subordinate’s record
    Ans: B, C……conflict on D.
    6. All contact’s mailing post code should match the account shipping postal code. How to do it
    A. use NOT EQUAL operator
    B. use compare operator
    C. use distance()
    D. geolocation()
    Ans: B
    7. Company A wants to implement business processes around Opportunities. What tools should be used? (Choose 3)
    1) Opportunity Teams
    2) Page Layouts
    3) Record Types
    4) Sales Processes
    5) Workflows
    Ans: 2,3, 4
    8. Field type conversion. Which of the following are true: (choose two):
    a) Data can be lost when converting from Picklist (Single-Select) to Picklist (Multi-Select).
    b) Data can be lost when converting from Auto-Number to text.
    c) Data can be lost when converting from Number to Currency (assuming that field lengths are identical)
    d) Information can be lost when converting from text area (rich) To text area (long)
    Ans: B,D
    9. Which components can be added to a Lightning app on custom Object: (choose 3)
    a) Visualforce
    b) Standard Lightning component
    c) Custom Lightning component
    d) Global actions
    e) Object specific actions on the custom object
    Ans: A,B,C
    10. Which statement is true for embedding a visual force page in a page layout select (2)
    a. Visualforce pages on a field set have attributes for width and height.
    b. Visualforce pages on a page layout have attributes for width and height.
    c. Visualforce pages can only be places in the visual force section in the page layout
    d. Visualforce pages can be placed anywhere in a page layout.
    Ans: B, D
    11. In Order to delete Opportunities, UVC would like sales reps to submit requests for approval from their sales manager.
    What can be used to meet Requirement?
    a. Approval process with Apex Trigger.
    b. Approval process with Time -Dependent workflow action.
    c. Process Builder with submit for approval action
    d. Two-step Approval process.
    Ans: D
    12. Universal Containers needs to update a field on an Account when an Opportunity Stage is changed to Closed Lost.
    Workflow Rule
    Approval Process
    Lightning Process Builder
    Assignment Rule
    Ans: A

  6. Hi Ben, Thanks for the detailed info about the certification, however can you let me know what is the difference between the Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder – Transition Exam and Platform App Builder certification. Is the transition exam just to evaluate ourself before taking up Platform App Builder? And which one is recommendable.
    Awaiting your response.

    1. Hi Kitty,

      Great question. The transition exam is for those that already have the old DEV401 certification. This is now phased out and instead of the people that hold this sitting the entire exam again, they get the chance to just do a quick 20 question exam. If you do not have the old dev401 then you will need to do the full app builder exam.

      Hope this helps!


      1. Thank you so much for a quick response, this is so helpful. I do have Dev401 certification and now i know what to do next. Thanks again for all your great help..!! Much appreciated

  7. @Anu : I dont believe that 401 exam is still in effect.

    @Ben: Thanks to your mock quiz and other resources I have successfully completed the Admin exam 🙂
    Next planning to go for App builder Exam. Any tips or guidelines please. From the questions and study guide I have reviewed so far it seems after clearing Admin exam App builder doesnt seem that much of a herculean task

  8. Hi All,

    Can anybody please post answers for these questions:

    1. An organization needs the ability view the value of the Opportunity Stage field on an Opportunity Product related list. Please choose the declarative method of fulfilling the requirement. Choose the Right answer
    a. Create an Apex method to replicate the value on the child object, and set the field level security to read-only and expose the new field on the Opportunity Product related list.
    b. Create a cross object formula field on the Opportunity Product object and expose the formula field on the Opportunity Product related list.
    c. Create a validation rule on the Opportunity Product object.
    d. Create a new pick list field called Stage on the Opportunity Product object, and expose the filed on the Opportunity Product related list.

    2. Invoices in SAP need to be reviewed from Salesforce Account object Home(2).
    A. From SAP config
    B. O-DATA
    C. External object
    D. Data Loader

    3. In order to delete a record smith needs to be approved(1).
    A. Approval with Workflow
    B. Approval with Apex Trigger

    4. What can be branded in SF1?(3)
    A. Loading logo
    B. Loading page color
    C. Header and Search
    D. Action tab bar

    5. UC is importing 1000 records and want to avoid duplicate, how can they do it?(1)
    A. Include a column in the import file that has other record name(SF ID)
    B. Run duplicate check
    C. use “prevent duplicates”
    D. manually merge

    6. What is the capability of the Shema Builder? (2)
    A. Customize settings
    B. Choose object
    C. Open page layout in new window
    D. To update descriptions of standard and custom objects

    7. What of the following can be source of report chart placed in page layout? (2)
    A. Joined
    B. Tabular
    C. Matrix
    D. Summary

    8. What metadata can be made manually in production without deployment? (2)
    A. Visualforce ?
    B. Apex class
    C. Apex trigger
    D. Reports and Dashboards

    9. When moving Tabs using change sets but without profiles what will be the view of tabs in new org? (1)
    A. Hidden
    B. Def off
    C. Def on

    10. Which sandbox is used for performance testing? (1)
    A. Full
    B. Developer
    C. Partial
    D. Developer Pro

    11. What is the type of the invisible chatter group? (1)
    A. Unlisted
    B. Private
    C. Public

    14. Where custom buttons can be placed? (3)
    A. Related object
    B. Personal account
    C. Record page
    D. Web to case

    17. Which type of field cannot be universally required?(2)
    A. Lookup
    B. Text
    C. Email
    D. Summary

    1. Ans 1: not sure.. A
      Ans 2.B,C
      Ans 3.A
      Ans 4.A,B,C
      Ans 5.A
      Ans 6.B,C
      Ans 7 C,D
      Ans 8. A,D
      Ans 9.A
      Ans 10.A
      Ans 11.A
      Ans 14.A,B,C
      Ans 17 A,D

  9. Thank you Ben! After putting the exam off for almost a year, I took the Platform App Builder Transition exam today and passed. Your site was very thorough and helped me understand the areas where I needed to focus my studies. The mock exam was great!!

  10. hii i am fresher in sfdc…i wanna give app builder certification exam because dev 401 is not available please guide me exam point of view..and is it tough to give as a fresher???

  11. Hello! I just took the new 401 App Builder Test Friday and failed. I hate they do not at least give you a percentage of the ones you got right, but any way. I felt I did well but was wondering of what other information would be available to study for this test further. Any insight will help.

    1. Hi Janelle,

      I do have a members section on the blog where you can get access to a Platform App Builder quiz which has 60 questions! You can also download the PDF of the questions to revise offline.

  12. Hi Ben, thank you very much. Your site is very thorough. I have passed App Builder exam.
    For everyone, One think I can point out here, App Builder is much more in-depth & complicated than Dev-401. There is no shortcut to pass App Builder, you need to prepare hard & practice on a sandbox.

  13. Hi Ben,

    I am preparing to take the App Builder Transition test at dreamforce ’16. Do you happen to know the percentages of each section for the 20 questions. I’ve been on the platform for 12 years and have three certs but the darn 20 questions is scaring me. If I can successfully answer the questions on your quizzes should I be good, you think. I took the 401 in 2009 when it first came out.

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