If you’re like me, the first thing you do when you decide to go for something is to peruse the internet for advice from people that have done it and that is exactly the first thing I did when it came to both my Salesforce Administrator and Salesforce Developer certification. When I was up late after work studying for the Platform Developer I exam, I would catch myself half thinking/half praying ‘God, if I pass this test I promise to help others!’ Part of the reason I’m writing this now is because although I found it difficult to find some of the answers I was looking for, I did find many valuable articles from people who had ‘blazed the trail’ before me. This is my attempt to give back.
I wouldn’t consider myself very technically experienced. I have my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and up until 2014, I’d never opened up an excel file. I do, however, possess a mindset that wants to solve problems and enjoys thinking through them – if you can keep that mindset, you’re on the way to passing the Developer Exam.
1. Use the Salesforce Study Guide to plan
This is important. My first mistake was quickly veering off track from the study guide and down the rabbit hole of development documentation and YouTube videos of Dreamforce speakers. At one point I was attempting to actually read the entire Apex Development Workbook (now deprecated), making stacks of flash cards about Rest API, asynchronous callouts, and memory allocation limits. If you don’t know what most of that is, don’t worry you won’t need to for this exam. Use the Salesforce Study Guide, and what’s on the Salesforce Study Guide as the foundation of your studying. Download the guide here.
Begin by reading the study guide over and over until you know what is in and out of the scope of the exam. Next, write down each section of the exam in order from least familiar to most familiar. Draw a line dividing the top half of the list from the bottom and apply an 80/20 rule – plan to spend 80% of your time studying in the top half (the less familiar) and 20% of your time on the remainder.
2. Take the Developer Beginner Trail from Trailhead
Besides experience, Trailhead is the best resource out there for learning Salesforce. If you are unfamiliar with Trailhead, it’s a series of guided learning paths for business users to developers where you can earn badges, track progress and plan your learning curriculum. If you have not yet signed up, do yourself a favor and do it now! https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/trails. You will need a developer org if you want to follow along with most of the training. You can get one here.
3. Track by Comprehension, Not by Time
Remember, quality over quantity! I would avoid planning in time chunks. Just because more time is spent studying, does not mean more is learned. Focus on what specific thing you want to know when you’re finished with a study session. For example, looking at section five of the Study Guide you might take ‘Describe how to use basic SOSL, SOQL, and DML statements when working with objects in Apex’ under the Logic and Process Automation and decide to learn the how to write three types of SOQL statements in one session and the limitations of SOSL statements in another. The best part about doing this is that you will hopefully leave every session feeling accomplished
4. Utilize Different Methods of Learning
Spend time in Salesforce Documentation reading, Trailhead and YouTube learning, and a development org doing! I know I have learned something when I can explain it and when I can think of ways to use it. Take what you want to learn – Read about it, watch someone do it, and finally do it yourself.
5. Know Why and When
Most of the exam consists of scenario based questions. You’ll never pass the exam if you only know terms and their definitions. After reading and learning about a functionality, I ask myself why I would need it and when I would use it. Why should one use process builder over a workflow? Come up for a scenario or use case for both!
6. Utilize Salesforce Training
If your company has premier support, you have access to a hub of instructor led training videos! Navigate to ‘Help & Training’ in your org and look for the training section. Don’t sweat it if you do not have premier support, there is still plenty of other information out there.
7. Salesforce Ben
Salesforceben.com is an awesome resource that I have used for both of my certification. There is a great article about the Platform Developer I certification here: http://www.salesforceben.com/platform-developer-certification-guide-tips/. They give an awesome breakdown of the exam.
8. Answer and Ask Questions in the Support Forums
Even if you’re not an expert in Salesforce Development yet, try to help others with their problems. It is a great way to receive use cases and scenarios that can provide you with experience and hands on learning! You probably won’t receive the vote for the ‘Best Answer’ all the time, but it begins the process of actively thinking about how to implement development solutions .
9. Don’t Burn Yourself Out
No need to pull an all-nighter! Give yourself plenty of time, you can only take in so much at a once. If you have accomplished your ‘learning goal’ for the session, take the rest of the day off! Go outside and enjoy some nature.
I hope this article has provided some good advice you can utilize to prepare for the Platform Developer I and other Salesforce exams. Good luck, you’ll do great!