In order to become a Certified Advanced Administrator, you need to have already passed the Salesforce Certified Administrator exam. The ‘Advanced’ Admin exam helps you build on your foundational administrator knowledge to further understand Salesforce; you can learn from in-depth lessons about features that are briefly covered in the Admin exam, or learn about new features that do not appear in the Admin exam.
The Advanced Admin Salesforce exam is based on different scenarios; not only do you have to identify the right feature, you also have to understand if this is the “best practice” way of doing things. Some topics are covered in more detail in other Salesforce exams, so this might be the ideal exam to study towards at the same time as Sales Cloud Consultant, Service Cloud Consultant, or Platform App Builder.
Who’s the Ideal Candidate?
In my opinion, this is one of the most overlooked exams, as it gives an extra layer to the administrative foundations of Salesforce. Personally, I would consider this exam to be suitable for any Salesforce professional, including Admins, Developers, Consultants, and Architects. Typically, a candidate should have 1+ years of experience administering a Salesforce org before taking the exam.
Security and Access: 20%
Within Salesforce, security is important to ensure users can only see the records they need, with sensitive information exposed to the specific users that require it.
This section of the exam focuses on the different mechanisms required to control record and field access. You’ll need to be clued up on areas such as:
- Organization Wide Defaults (OWD)
- Role Hierarchy
- Permission Sets
- Field Level Security
- Sharing Rules
- Record Types
- Security within Experience Cloud
You also need to understand Enterprise Territory Management, particularly how this can be used to share records. An Advanced Administrator is expected to compare Custom Profiles to Permission Sets and know what Delegated Administration can be used for.
The key here is being able to choose the right solution for the given problem. Make sure you understand when Profiles, Permission Sets, Sharing Rules, and Roles etc. should be used, and how they complement each other (or not!). For example, if a user has access to a record via sharing rules, but their profile doesn’t allow access, although the record is shared with them, they won’t be able to access it.
Objects and Applications: 19%
This section of the exam guide talks about relationships within the system.
You need to understand what a master-detail relationship is, and how the parent/child relationship works. Think about how to use roll-up fields, the implications of deleting records when they have a master-detail, and when/how to use Junction Objects.
You also need to know what a Lookup field is, and the different configuration options for this type of field (particularly when deleting records or applying filters).
The exam is likely to directly compare these features, expecting you to choose the right option. You could also be asked about converting relationships from one type to the other.
Auditing and Monitoring: 10%
Within every Salesforce Administrator’s toolkit, there are various troubleshooting tools available such as the Debug Log and the Setup Audit Trail.
For this section, you need to know what functionalities these tools provide, and what tool to use based on the given scenario.
Even though these tools are not explicitly mentioned in the guide, you should also consider the following:
- Field history tracking
- Email log files
- Feed tracking
- Any other tools Salesforce Administrators use to help troubleshoot (login history etc.)
Cloud Applications: 11%
Cloud Applications make up 11% of the exam. You need to know about Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.
You’ll find questions on Salesf Cloud and will need to understand how to set up products, as well as the related objects they need to be used in practice: Price Books and Price Book Entries. You should ensure you understand how Product Schedules are configured, as well as how to grant access to Price Books.
The rest of this area is made up of Quotes, Forecasting, understanding the forecast hierarchy, forecast categories (Pipeline, Best Case etc.), and quotas.
In the Service Cloud section, you need to know how to set up and maintain a Knowledge base. Think about the licences required for this, and how to control access with record types and data categories.
The exam also covers Entitlements and Entitlement Processes. Be sure to try this out using the relevant Trailhead Modules, as “hands-on” is the best way to get your head around it!
As part of the Service offering, you may be asked how agents can interact with customers (and each other) using features such as:
- Case Feed
- Service Console
- Experience Cloud
- Omni Channel
Data and Analytics Management: 13%
This section focuses on improving your Salesforce data quality, using features such as Validation Rules and Duplicate Detection to stop invalid or duplicate information.
Data management also covers enriching records, so make sure you know the difference between Data Import Wizard (no Opportunities!) and Data Loader in terms of bringing in information from other systems. You should also be aware of AppExchange solutions for bringing in third-party data.
The exam may also touch on archiving records such as activities, tasks, and events. Remember, you can’t report on archived records!
This section also goes into the more advanced reporting features. You need to understand when to use custom report types, what reporting snapshots are, and how to add charts or formulas into reports. You may also be asked how to ‘bucket’ values, use cross filters, and use dashboard filters.
Remember, a joined report is essentially a collection of different reports together with a common grouping. A dynamic dashboard shows the user only the data they have access to.
Environment Management and Deployment: 7%
As you might expect, Change Sets form a big part of this section. You need to know how they work and how they can be used to move your metadata (fields, page layouts etc.).
It’s important to know that Change Sets can’t be used between unrelated orgs or developer orgs. All environments (Sandboxes/Production) need to be linked to the same Production environment.
Don’t forget to look into best practices when deploying changes such as:
- Including dependencies.
- Adding profiles/permission sets to include Field Level Security.
- Ensuring code has enough coverage (75%).
You will also need to be aware of other options for moving metadata, such as Visual Studio Code or ANT Migration Tool.
Process Automation: 20%
Approval Processes are one part of this section. Remember, Approval Processes don’t adhere to Validation Rules; for a record to go through the process, it needs to meet the entry criteria.
The other part of this section focuses on Process Automation (Workflow Rules, Process Builder, Flow), Formula Fields, and when to use (Apex) code instead of clicks.
Be sure you know what each automation tool can do, and consider completing the Process Automation Specialist Superbadge to familiarize yourself firsthand with these tools and how to use them.
Break down the exam guide into manageable chunks and focus on one area at a time.
In my opinion, it’s useful to complete any related Trailhead Modules, including hands-on exercises and recommended Super Badges.
Remember that this exam is a step up from the Administrator certification; be prepared to answer questions about the more “advanced” admin functionalities, and provide the best feature given the scenario.
Personally, I find it useful to make notes and then read these repeatedly as I study for each certification.
Ensure you use official resources (like Salesforce Help and Trailhead) to put together your notes as part of your preparation.
Make sure you know how to answer questions such as:
- How do you give your Users the ability to reset passwords for particular groups?
- Why can’t you add a Product to a Opportunity?
- When should a Profile be used vs. a Permission Set?
It helped me to book in the exam and then work towards that deadline – just make sure this is a realistic goal!
As with any Salesforce exam, it’s important to remain calm, and make sure you are as prepared as you can be (as part of your study strategy).
Be sure to review the questions carefully, as the wording is key when determining the correct answer. Through the process of elimination, you should be able to ignore any options that are incorrect, leaving you to decide which is ‘best’ from what’s left.
If you are taking the exam in person, make sure you take advantage of the pencil and paper provided. Scribbling notes or drawing diagrams might help you work out the relationships between objects, or any acronyms you’ve learned as part of your study strategy.
An instructor once shared with me these two acronyms to help with Salesforce Exams. The first, RTFQ, stands for “Read The Full Question”. This should remind you to make sense of the can/can’t type wordings in the question, which can be easy to miss, as well as other clues. The second is KISS, which stands for “Keep It Simple Silly”. An example is the use of standard features (for example Flow) instead of a code solution (using Apex) – the first option here is the simplest, easiest to maintain, and uses something out-of-the-box.
Don’t be afraid to use the “Mark for Review” option so you don’t get caught up on questions you’re struggling with – you can always come back to these at the end. I would also suggest (if you have time) reviewing all your answers once you are done, so you can correct any mistakes you made the first time around.
In order to ‘level up’ your career, the Advanced Admin Salesforce exam should be on your list, as it will help build foundations for other Salesforce exams.
Be sure to take the necessary time to prepare, and make sure you know your way around the features mentioned in this article: Relationships, Reports, Dashboards, Sales, Service, and Automations.
Play to your strengths to work out the best study technique for you, and use the resources at your disposal (via Trailhead) to get as much hands-on experience as you can before the big day.
You’ve got this, Trailblazer!