How to Pass Your Salesforce Certification First Time

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Salesforce certifications are constantly a hot topic of conversation amongst the community for a few reasons. They are always being sought after by veterans and newcomers alike, they can help progress your career, they force you into learning new skills/features, and if you work for a System Integrator partner, certifications will affect their partner level. For this reason questions are always being asked around the best resources, key tips, online guides and training courses to fully prepare.

This blog post is written for people that want to focus on the “foundation” Administrator & Platform App Builder exams and want to ensure they are fully prepared. How do you know if you are ready? What resources can you use? How do you ensure you have covered everything?


I will now look at a few methods you can prepare for the exams that can ensure you cover the entire syllabus, hopefully meaning that you pass first time!

Salesforce University


Salesforce U is the official certification training department of Salesforce. Here you will find official training courses for nearly every certification, topic and discipline. Salesforce offer a few “complete” training offerings such as Public Instructor Led TrainingVirtual Instructor Led Training and Private Workshops. What I mean by complete, is the instructor will follow a set syllabus designed to cover everything in the exam. This will most likely need to be supplemented with self revision as always, but you will have an extremely good learning foundation set up.

Advantages – Official material and training. Mixture of training, sample questions and case studies.

Disadvantages – Very expensive ($4,000 – $5,000). Fixed training dates. Dates for courses are usually only once a month.



Simplilearn is a world leading certification training provider that has a comprehensive Administrator & Platform App Builder training course. I’ve been lucky enough to get an insight into the course and I was very impressed! It is in fact, very comparable to Salesforce U training. Simplilearn offers live online classroom training and self-paced training based on the principle of “learn by doing”. The course is taught on the Salesforce platform to gain hands-on experience and also offers 4 real-world industry projects to implement on the Salesforce platform. There are many case studies and simulation papers too. All for an all-in-one reasonable price. Check it out here.

Advantages – Completely certification focused training, Comprehensive course and material. 3-month Experience Certificate for Salesforce projects, Simulation Test Papers, Flexible training dates. Reasonable pricing ($399-$1399).

Disadvantages – Not official training, not that it matters much for preparation



Udemy is slightly different from Simplilearn and Salesforce U training, but might be better suited to some people’s needs. Udemy is more like a “Marketplace” where anyone can sign up and start creating courses for users to buy and access. This means that there is a lot of varied content at a low price but is only provided as self serve training with no live interaction from certified trainers.

Advantages – Cheap training on a wide selection of courses

Disadvantages – Not official training, No guarantee of quality, only self serve training

Self Preparation

Of course another method of passing the exam is to prepare yourself. This is an attractive option to some that have the support of their colleagues or possibly a mentor to guide them through what areas they need to revise. There are also websites such as mine that can supplement your own revision by providing sample exams, making sure you are on track. If this route sounds the most attractive to you, I would recommend using the study guides provided on the Salesforce certification home page to make sure you cover every single aspect.

Advantages – Nearly free!

Disadvantages – Not official training, No structured syllabus, case studies or live training.

12 thoughts on “How to Pass Your Salesforce Certification First Time

  1. Avatar

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the post. Always find your posts very useful.

    I am a newbie to the Salesforce platform and have managed to get my first certification through the Self Preparation method. Whilst the biggest advantage as you mention is that it’s free, I can say that from my experience, it was slow, unstructured and sometimes frustrating! It took me longer to understand the concepts and to get there. I made sure I followed the Study Guide religiously! I read as much as I could from the online documentation on the Help&Training Salesforce website and tried it on the platform. I made sure I was achieving at least 70% and up on the mock exams on your site (thanks for those!!) and of course I used Trailhead which helped me tremendously! I am now preparing for the App builder certification. Looking forward to it. I am very excited!

    1. Ben McCarthy

      Hi Yasmina,

      Thanks for the feedback of your experience and I’m glad you found the site helpful.

      I completely agree with you, fortunately I was in a position where more experienced colleagues could tutor me for the Admin exam. But for a lot of people self preparation seems like the only option, however as I’ve outlined here there are some fantastic alternatives.



  2. Avatar

    Munira Majmundar


    Hello Yasmina, Congrats!! I am working on my ADM201. If it is any consolation, I am glad you did not pay $$$, like I did, for the Salesforce University ADM201 course 🙁 The course is not geared towards preparing students for the certification – it is an introduction to the platform 🙁

    1. Avatar

      Hi Munira,

      Thank you :). I’m sure you got invaluable insight from completing the course. I would think It’s more beneficial to be guided, be it through the course or via a colleague or mentor. And mostly because self preparation is time consuming and nowadays time is our most precious commodity. We only get a certain amount of it! Wish you good luck with the ADM201!

    2. Avatar

      That’s because ADM201 is the name of the course not the name of the Certification. You can’t study for “ADM201” because it doesn’t exist as a certification. It’s like your saying your studying for a course your going to be doing? You can only study for the Salesforce Administrator Certification. The two are not the same. I’m SOOO pleased Salesforce has started to now change the names of the certifications, hopefully people will get less confused but have no idea where this started from.

  3. Avatar

    The one big issue with online courses is because Salesforce releases 3 times a year they become out of date really quickly. Is the Simplilearn course up to date? By looking at the text and comments it looks like it’s still talking about the old certifications which I’m guessing means the content is at least 8 months out of date. Also I’ve just tried to preview “Introduction to Salesforce Administrator & App Builder” and it just shows me the trailer video at the top?

    1. Ben McCarthy

      Hey Francis, didn’t see this comment. I’ve actually reviewed and all content is up to date, they actually were one of the first to bring out Lightning style courses. They also offer the live virtual training courses where trainers use up to date information. I completely know what you mean though, its a shame when courses give out of date information to people who don’t know better.

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