Certifications / Admins / Career

Platform App Builder Certification Guide & Tips

By Christine Marshall

The Salesforce Platform App Builder certification is ideal for Salesforce professionals that want to demonstrate their knowledge of building custom applications on the Salesforce platform using clicks not code.

Candidates will also demonstrate a strong understanding of deployment and when a programmatic solution is more appropriate.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the exam:

  • Entry-level certification
  • 3-6 months of experience required
  • No prerequisites in terms of other qualifications
  • $200 fee

Who’s the Ideal Candidate?

I would recommend any Salesforce professional to take this certification, no matter if you are an admin, consultant, or developer, the skills you pick up while revising for this exam will become invaluable to anyone working on the platforms.

One of the most powerful aspects about Salesforce is the ability to create custom application and processes in rapid time, and this exam covers it all.

Key Topics

1. Salesforce Fundamentals: 23%

You may be familiar with many of the concepts in this section as they are also covered in the Admin exam. Refresh your memory on object, record and field access, sharing solutions, reports, dashboards and Chatter.

You’ll want to increase your knowledge of the mobile experience and using global or object specific actions and layouts.

You’ll be expected to know when you’ve reached the boundaries of declarative customization and when programmatic changes are appropriate. This also includes understanding when to enhance and extend your org using the AppExchange.

READ MORE: Edit Object Permissions in Profiles

2. Data Modeling & Management: 22%

This section is all about the Salesforce data model; this includes standard and custom objects, fields and relationships.

Understanding the differences between a lookup and a master-detail relationship, as well as when to use a many-to-many relationship is key.

The schema builder is a great way to not only visualize your data model, but also to extend it, and this exam expects you to understand the capabilities and considerations of this tool.

You should have a thorough understanding of fields types and when to use them. You will almost definitely be asked a question based about changing field types and the data loss that could incur (or not), so memorize and test these combinations out for a guaranteed mark.

Lastly, you should brush up on importing and exporting data – the tools, considerations and working with external data sources.

READ MORE: Notes on Changing Custom Field Types

3. Business Logic & Process Automation: 28%

This chunky section takes up over a quarter of the entire exam, so you better get familiar with all the concepts! In fact, this section will test your knowledge of Formula Fields, Roll-up Summary Fields, Validation Rules, Approval Processes, Workflow, Process Builder and Flow.

The exam mostly contains scenario based questions, and therefore given a certain scenario, you will be expected to put forward the most appropriate solution. All of the features mentioned above are core to the platform, so you should learn these inside out.

READ MORE: What Is a Cross-Object Formula?

4. User Interface: 17%

As well as diving into the technical point and click aspect of the Salesforce platform, you also should understand the features available to give users a nice experience. With most Salesforce users now on Lightning, this opens up huge possibilities to create slick user interfaces.

You will be expected to understand how Lightning Components can be used, and where they can be placed, as well as the difference between standard, custom, and AppExchange components.

You will also be tested on how custom buttons, links, and actions can play a part in making users lives easier.

READ MORE: Guide to Page Layouts in Salesforce

5. App Deployment: 10%

Although the smallest section in the exam, this topic might be quite a challenge to those newer to Salesforce Administration or that work on a smaller org.

This section expects you to understand how to test and deploy changes from a sandbox. You should have a good understanding of change sets, when you can use them and when they are not appropriate.

You should also understand the use cases and differences between a managed and unmanaged package.

READ MORE: What Is a Salesforce Sandbox?

Study Strategy

The Platform App Builder Certification covers a lot of content – but don’t be put off! Many of the topics were also covered in the Admin exam and, if you work as an Admin or Consultant, then the chances are you are already doing a lot of this stuff!

Brush up on the concepts covered in the Admin exam, such as fields, object and record sharing, relationships, data import/export, reports and dashboards. Hopefully, much of this will be familiar to you.

I would then spend time getting to grips with some of the features or concepts you don’t know as well. Especially topics around moving from declarative to programmatic customization. You might want to take a deeper look into Lightning Components, Mobile, custom buttons/links, and everything in the App Deployment section!

As always, hands on practice is a must, so make sure you complete the Trailmix and have a play in your own developer org.

Exam Strategy

When exam day finally hits, there are a bunch of tips we gathered over the years to give you the best chance of passing with flying colours.

Firstly, if there are any concepts that you are struggling to get to grips with, then print off a cheat sheet and try and memorize any of these before you take the exam so they are fresh in your memory.

When taking the exam, pay particular attention to the question, and read it through a few times. For the scenario-based questions there will be huge clues in the answer to what the correct answer actually is. If you need to, use the pen and paper provided to draw out a data schema, role hierarchy or any other diagram that will help you visualize the answer.

When deciding on the answer, be sure to use the process of elimination to get rid of the answers that are definitely incorrect. Salesforce likes to throw in answers that are made up of features or just plane incorrect. They also like to throw in curveballs, of features that appear to be correct but aren’t best practice. You can often worm out these by focussing on standard Salesforce features that accomplish a task. For example, you could build a custom approval process with process builder, but why do this when there is a standard feature that is best practice?

You also have a great tool at your disposal, the “Mark for review” feature. On each question, you will have a checkbox that you can mark. This is great if you cannot think of an answer right at that moment, or if you are doubtful about your answer. At the end of the exam, you will have a chance to review these questions. Depending on the amount selected, this will give you a pretty good idea of how likely you are to have passed the test. Regardless of the questions marked for review, I would always recommend to go through every question if time permits. I do this on every exam, and often spot mistakes I made in the answers and change a few.

Resources

Tips

  • Download the Trailhead Exam Guide and use this as your master revision list
  • Ensure you not only revise the features and concepts, but thoroughly test them out in a Developer Org or a Trailhead Playground.
  • Once you feel confident with some of the modules, book your exam to give you a date to aim towards. This will give you the motivation to revise and pass the exam.
  • Download our Top 10 Salesforce Certification Tips eBook

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, the Platform App Builder qualification is almost as important as the Salesforce Admin exam, and is the obvious next step on your certification journey.

This exam covers many fundamental core platform features and builds your knowledge of Salesforce architecture, design and scalability. However, there is also more emphasis on understanding when you have reached the boundaries of a declarative solution, and a programmatic solution is required. This exam will certainly make sure that you have a greater awareness of the capabilities of the platform and what to do when deploying changes.

The Author

Christine Marshall

Christine is the Courses Director at Salesforce Ben. She is an 11x certified Salesforce MVP and leads the Bristol Admin User Group.

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