How to Prepare for Salesforce Admin Certification Exam

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Simon Mclellan

Writer, developer.

The task of preparing for the Salesforce certification exam isn’t any different from preparing for any other exam you may have taken in the past. The basic principles of how to prepare for an exam remain the same:

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  • You must have a solid understanding of the material;
  • You must be in a good psychological space to undertake an exam; and
  • You must be well-rested to perform your best.


Of course, being in a good place mentally, and being well-rested, are two variables that you can control with relatively short notice. Unfortunately, ensuring that you have a solid understanding of the material on which you will be tested is the challenge. The Salesforce certification is a representation of the hundreds, if not thousands of hours of experience you have with Salesforce, and everything you’ve learned along the way. To maximize your chance of passing the Salesforce exam, I’ve prepared a guide to help you along the way.


Am I Ready for the Salesforce Certification Exam?

If you’ve been working with Salesforce for a while, and you have an understanding as to how to use all of the features and functions available to you, then you are likely almost ready to obtain your Salesforce Certification. I recommend that you take some time to complete a preparatory course such as the Salesforce Lightning 2019 Certified Administrator course to ensure that you are not taken by surprise and stumped by any of the material that you encounter on the exam.

If you have not previously been working with Salesforce, but you are eager to learn and willing to put in the time to increase your employability, then I recommend you complete the Learning Salesforce Admin course on LinkedIn, and then complete the Salesforce Lightning 2019 Certified Administrator course to fully prepare yourself for this exam.

What Should I Know About the Salesforce Certification Exam?

The Salesforce exam consists of sixty multiple-choice questions and five additional questions that are not scored. The exam can be taken in a supervised testing center or a supervised online environment. You will not be able to bring in any reference materials, and you will be given one hundred and five minutes to complete the exam.

The examination fee is USD 200.00 plus any additional taxes based on your location and you must correctly answer 65% of the questions to receive your certification. If you are unable to obtain the certification on your first attempt, there is a USD 100.00 fee to take the test again.


The exam is set up to test your knowledge of Salesforce. To prepare for your exam, I recommend using the Salesforce Lightning 2019 Certified Administrator courses that can be found on Udemy. These courses provide an all-encompassing overview of what you be required to know to obtain your certification. Once you have completed our recommended courses, use the following breakdown of the Salesforce Certified Administrator exam to determine if you have mastered all of the required skills to obtain your certification. Alongside various sections of the test, I have indicated which part of the Udemy course you would use to beef up your understanding of the related material.

Organizational Setup

This portion of the exam focuses on your ability to set up the Salesforce software for an organization. Representing about 3% of the exam, you will be asked to identify and describe the information that can be found in the company settings. You will be expected to know how to set environmental variables such as the fiscal year and other default settings that relate to the initial setup and long-term maintenance for an organization

Further, you will be expected to be able to distinguish between and identify the usage of a variety of UI components that make up the program. This section of the exam is a general test to determine your ability to set up and begin using Salesforce and should be relatively straightforward for an individual with some experience. To learn more about Organizational setup, check out Salesforce Lightning 2019 Certified Administrator course Part I on Udemy. Part I of this course delves into organizational setup, user setup, and security and access.

This section will cover much of the following information:

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  • Managing your companies basic information and licenses for Salesforce products;
  • Setting the required accesses for domains that Salesforce requires;
  • Setting limits for concurrent web usage;
  • Customizing how Salesforce will appear to users within your organization;
  • Setting up the Lightning Experience;
  • Installing updates;
  • Finding security alerts; and
  • Organizing your company into divisions.


User Management

The user management section of the exam focuses on the extraordinarily important aspect of user control. You will be tested on your knowledge of how to set up users, resolve user issues, and measure your understanding of how various actions affect the user’s level of access.

In general, if you have had experience in setting up users in Salesforce on any sort of regular basis, you should be able to get through this portion of the test. This section will represent approximately 7% of the test. When you have fully prepared for this section, you’ll be able to:

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  • View and manage all users in your organization and customer portal;
  • Manage the licenses for various users in your organization;
  • Set the minimum password requirements for your users;
  • Control the type of access that users have when they login to Salesforce; and
  • Troubleshoot user issues by ensuring there are no problems with their account setup, and then being able to log in as the user to determine the source of the issue.


Security and Access

The next section covers the security and access features of Salesforce and will be about 13% of the total test. You will be required to demonstrate your understanding of the various security controls available in Salesforce, and describe how to use these features to provide secure reports, templates, and dashboards.

You will be presented with various scenarios regarding access and security needs or special requests from users. Using these scenarios, you will be required to answer questions regarding the use of various security functions and profile types to provide the best service to the end-users as well as keeping your organization’s data secure. With security and access in mind, you have to be able to:

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  • Set and manage object-level permissions to control which users can access each of the different objects in your Salesforce setup;
  • Set and manage field-level permissions to allow user access to certain fields within an object but not others;
  • Set and manage record-level permissions allowing users access to specific records but not others;
  • Maintaining profiles which can be assigned to users to allow various levels of accesses; and
  • Setting and maintaining permission sets that can be stored and then applied to users to provide a faster means of assigning various levels of access.


Standard and Custom Objects

You will then demonstrate your knowledge of how standard objects work within Salesforce, as well as how they are all able to relate to one another. You will answer questions about how to create these objects, destroy these objects, as well as all the consequences of doing either. Given scenarios, you will provide the appropriate course of action for creating and assigning page layouts and business processes for various objects.

You will need a solid understanding of how objects work within Salesforce, and how to modify and define them. Further, you will need to have had some experience using custom objects to solve unique challenges. This section is approximately the same size as the Security and Access section. To boost your skills in both of these sections, see the Salesforce Lightning 2019 Certified Administrator Part 2 course on Udemy. This course covers all the information you’ll need to know to be able to answer these questions quickly, and effectively. When you’re done, you’ll be able to:

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  • Create objects;
  • Modify objects;
  • Set object properties; and
  • Destroy objects.


Sales and Marketing Applications

The section of the test focuses on sales and marketing applications and will test your knowledge of what Salesforce is capable of and how it will impact your sales process. There will be five or six questions that deal with sales and marketing applications, and you will need to be able to describe the ways Salesforce can improve the management and productivity of your sales teams. You will need to identify the scenarios in which you would use a variety of the tools available in Salesforce, and how to apply them most efficiently. When you’re ready for this portion, you will understand:

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  • How to determine what the sales process is capable of, and the implications of its usage;
  • How to know whether it is appropriate to use opportunity tools, and then other tools should be used; and
  • Answer questions about the lead and campaign tools.


Service and Support Applications

The service and support applications section of the exam requires you to be able to describe the case management system of Salesforce, and the related applications within the program and represents 6% of the total test. You’ll use examples of real-world scenarios and answer questions related to the automation of the case management system within Salesforce. This section, as well as the next two, are covered in depth in Part 3 of the Salesforce Lightning 2019 Certified Administrator course. If you’ve followed along with the course so far you’ll be right on track to pass these next sections. You’ll know you’re ready when you can:

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  • Describe in detail how the case management system functions, and how it can be used in various scenarios;
  • Indicate best practices in the automation of case management; and
  • Detail the features of Salesforce Knowledge, Portals, and Community Applications.


Activity Management and Collaboration

This small section spanning just 3% of the total test requires you to demonstrate your knowledge of the activity management system within Salesforce. You’ll need to respond to questions surrounding the features of Salesforce’s social network software Chatter, as well as describe how to make the best use of this software to optimize your organization.

When you’ve mastered activity management and collaboration, you’ll have a thorough understanding of how the activity management system works within Salesforce, and how Chatter can be used to improve Salesforce within an organization.

Data Management

The data management section of this test covers your knowledge as to how Salesforce stores, utilizes, displays, validates, and exports data. There will be around six questions that will require you to have a working knowledge of the redundancy systems that Salesforce can utilize, and the types of validation tools available. This section will test whether you:

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  • Know the benefits and drawbacks of various means of importing large quantities of information;
  • Know the different tools in Salesforce that allow you to manage data;
  • Understand data validation available within Salesforce; and
  • How to ensure your data is properly backed up.


Analytics-Reports and Dashboards

This section is all about data presentation. You’ll have to know the various means to create and customize reports and dashboards, and how they can be shared. About 13% of the questions on the exam will deal with Analytics, reports, and dashboards. Make sure that you have a grasp as to how the different types of reports display the data they present, and the capabilities of each of these types. To cover this, Workflow and process automation, desktop and mobile administration, and AppExchange, you’ll want to use the Salesforce Lightning 2019 Certified Administrator course Part 4. If you’ve followed along with these courses so far, you’ll be sure to have the know-how to get your Salesforce certification on your first attempt! This portion of the exam allows you to demonstrate:

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  • The options you have to create and customize a report;
  • How the data can be shared within your organization; and
  • The variety of options available to customize your reports and dashboards.


Workflow and Process Automation

Questions in this section revolve around using the available automation tools within Salesforce, and your knowledge of the capabilities of these processes. Also, you’ll be required to know when to use the approval processes to add checks and balances to your organization’s use of Salesforce. There will be four or five questions from this category and when you’re ready for this exam you’ll be able to show them:

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  • How workflows are evaluated, and how they can be affected by rules and actions;
  • How to use the appropriate workflow for any given scenario; and
  • How approval processes work and when they should be used.


Desktop and Mobile Administration

Your knowledge of the features available in the Salesforce Mobile App will be tested in this section. You’ll be required to know how to install, setup, and sync your organization’s instances of Salesforce across the mobile and desktop landscape. There may only be one or two questions about desktop and mobile administration. To be sure you have a complete understanding of this portion of the material, make sure you can:

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  • Describe the uses and features of Salesforce Mobile; and
  • Install Salesforce on a variety of platforms including mobile and desktop deployments.



This small section will require that you can describe how and when to use the AppExchange applications found in Salesforce. You’ll need to know what kinds of solutions can be found on the app exchange, and how to incorporate or remove these solutions from your installation of the program. As there are thousands of solutions available,

I would not focus so much on the solutions themselves, but rather the types of functionality that each solution could bring to the Salesforce suite. Having access to Dropbox for storage, LinkedIn for sales lead generation, or DocuSign to ensure that have all the required signatures to close your sales would be great examples of additional functionality available to be incorporated into the Salesforce suite.

When you’re ready to answer the questions related to AppExchange, you should be able to provide examples of use cases for AppExchange applications.

Ready to be a Salesforce Certified Administrator?

If you’ve come this far, completed all of our recommended courses, and have no further questions on the various functions, capabilities, and uses of Salesforce, then you are prepared to get your certification. Use the list above to complete a final preparation before your actual exam, and you’ll be sure to pass the test. Your new Salesforce certification will be a fine addition to your growing resume.

Make sure to be well-rested, and that you are calm and collected. These will be your only concerns come exam day, because if you’ve completed our recommended course materials, you’re completely prepared for this exam. I wish you good luck and have faith that you will succeed both on your Salesforce Administrator Certification Exam, as well as your career.

Don’t Forget to Maintain Your Salesforce Certification!

Your Salesforce certification will expire if you do not complete the required up-training. Three times a year you will be required to complete maintenance modules to maintain your certification. You’ve worked hard to obtain your certification, so don’t delay when new modules are posted. Remember that this up-training is not for the benefit of anyone but yourself. You’ll be kept up to date on the newest cutting edge features of Salesforce, and when you’re employer catches wind of what Salesforce can do now, you’ll already be in the final stages of implementing those features in your workplace. Surely a promotion cannot be far behind that.