What I Learned From Failing Multiple Salesforce Exams

By Tom Bassett

Failure is a perfectly normal part of life, whether it’s an assessment for a creative vacation or a Salesforce Exam it’s inevitable. With the rise of professional social networks it’s easy to forget this, as my feed is always full of those having achieved a new credential.

The reality of the situation is just because someone is posting about a new certification, doesn’t mean that they passed it first time and it’s a lot easier to post about your successes than your failures. In this article I will share some of my thoughts about what I learnt from failing multiple exams and be joined by some superstars from the ecosystem who share some of their own experiences too.

My Wall of Shame

My first failure was Salesforce Sales Cloud Consultant back in 2019. I’d never failed an exam before which made it difficult, and it was made worse by everyone else around me getting ‘credentialed up’. 

Though I didn’t see it initially, time would teach me that failure is a normal part of life. Now I’ve learnt to embrace it –  it happens to us all at times, whether in a Salesforce context or not.

At that point, I didn’t know that this wouldn’t be my only failure. However, I’d now say I am a better architect as a result.

Hopefully you can take inspiration from my ‘Wall of Shame’. This isn’t meant as a negative – in fact it’s the opposite! I would later go on to pass all of these exams (apart from B2C Solution Architect, which I am still working at).

It’s All About the Material

My advice for if you find yourself failing a Salesforce exam is simple really: review the material again.

Salesforce will give you section-level feedback for each section of the exam and you can use this to focus your attention on areas where you got less than 60%.

Now you’ve figured out where you could’ve done better, it’s time to pick yourself up and start to study again. A mixture of Trailhead, Salesforce Help, and real-life experience is the best recipe to learn the theory of the possible and how to apply it. 

We all have different learning techniques so lean into what works best for you, whether that’s flashcards or having a screen reader reading your notes (like I do!).

If you are stuck that’s what the Trailblazer Community is for. But remember, sharing exam questions or using exam dumps is prohibited so be sure to make your post around a specific topic rather than an actual exam question.

READ MORE: Tips to Pass Any Salesforce Certification

What Others Have To Say

Don’t just take my word for it! As part of my research for this article, I’ve connected with fellow Trailblazers who have shared what they learned from failing an exam…

Jonathan Fox

Salesforce Technical Architect

“Remember, failure isn’t a stop sign, it’s a learning curve. It’s not the end of the journey, but a stepping stone to something bigger. Every trip up, every mishap, is just a chance to pick yourself up, dust off, and keep growing. That’s how we level up and succeed.”

Jennifer Reeves

Salesforce Marketing / Pardot Specialist

“I’ve never been good at exams. When I took Pardot Specialist I knew my stuff, had a marketing background and had been using it for a while, but still I felt like I didn’t breathe during the exam. Due to overlap between Account Engagement and Salesforce I wanted to take Salesforce Admin. 1st attempt fail, 2nd attempt fail. I’m not a quitter but couldn’t afford to pay $100 and deal with the stress.

Then I came across a code so I thought I’d try again as I didn’t have anything to lose. I took 3 practice exams on Salesforce Ben, remembered to breathe AND PASSED. I’m constantly learning in both systems but these certifications give me the confidence in the basics”

Evaldas Zaranka

Salesforce Solution Architect

“From failed Salesforce exams, I learned the strength of resilience, the art of perseverance, and the value of continuous learning on my path to success”

Vanessa Grant

Associate Principal Consultant

“I am grateful for all of my failed exams. They all got me comfortable with failing, which means I can bravely take on challenges without fear of the consequences when it comes to exams. If I fail now, it’s no big deal and I just reassess and keep moving forward. Before my first failed exam, I stressed SO MUCH about what it would say about me. I took it so personally.

Now I understand that a failed exam is just a thing that happens that no one really cares about. It’s just a guide for me to understand the weaker spots in my skill set. Thankfully, LinkedIn folks seem to only care about the ones I’ve passed, so all the failed attempts live only in my memories.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I knew someone once who took the Admin exam seven times before passing. That shows perseverance. Can you imagine if they stopped at six attempts? They are as much of a certified Admin as anyone who has ever passed. An inspiration.”

Andrew Cook

Salesforce Technical Instructor at SF Ben

“I failed the Platform Developer I exam more times than I’d like to remember. For me the biggest thing I learned is how much I really wanted it, to keep going back time after time, disappointment after disappointment. This was the last cert I needed to become a certified Application Architect, and it showed me how determined I was to achieve this.”


Whether we like it or not the ecosystem expects us to demonstrate our skills via a mix of credentials and real-life experience.

During your Salesforce career failure is inevitable! Whether this is on a project or an exam, you’ll need to learn the art of picking yourself up, learning from your mistakes, and trying again!

The Author

Tom Bassett

#AllStarArchitect working in the UK as a Solution Architect. 29x Trailhead Certified, 11x Accredited Professional, 2x Slack Certified with 5+ years experience of working on the platform.


    July 11, 2023 11:04 am
    such an important article! Don't forget, it's natural to celebrate publicly when we pass an exam, but to keep failure to ourselves. This can often lead to a false perception that everyone passes the exam except you. The failure rates are high, because the exams are tough; because they are tough, they are worth getting. If you get a fail, do a brain dump as quickly as possible afterwards - record those topics you struggled with and revise them.
    Quratulain Tariq
    July 18, 2023 6:12 am
    Great article and something that needs to be talked more about and highlighted. It's all part of learning. With so much going on and things changing rapidly, at times we forget that failing is fine and its part of learning itself. I like the idea of wall of shame I had a few to add from Q4 last year. I took a break and now I am back on track after reassessment and setting clear goals for learning and certs.

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