How to Prepare for Salesforce PD I Certification Exam

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Simon Mclellan

Writer, developer.

Are you ready to get on the road to becoming a master in the development of apps running on the Salesforce platform? Do you have an itch to create new and exciting solutions based on the backbone of the tried and true Salesforce program? If so, keep reading, we’re going to cover how to become prepared for the Salesforce Platform Developer I Certification Exam, and everything you should expect to encounter on the exam itself!


The average person attempting to gain their Salesforce Platform Developer 1 Certification has anywhere from one to two years of experience working as a software developer, as well as around six months of experience working on the Lightning Platform itself. The Lightning Platform is a developer platform that integrates into Salesforce and allows you to create custom applications to bring new functionality to the Salesforce platform. Developing for the Salesforce platform in Lightning relies on a programming language that is quite similar to Java, to add additional functionality to Lightning components.

Whether you’re a developer looking to become a Salesforce developer, or you are an individual who has spent some time tinkering with app development, and wants to learn more, I’ll guide you along the path to obtaining your Salesforce PD1 certification. With a little bit of effort, you’ll gain the recognition that comes with the recognition of your Salesforce development prowess.

How to Prepare for the Salesforce Platform Developer 1 Certification Exam?

For this guide, I’m going to assume that you already have a grasp on the basic concepts of object-oriented programming, and an understanding of how a programming language can be used to complete computational tasks. If you are not yet confident in these skills, it would be worth looking into courses that can familiarize you with these concepts. There is no need for you to be a master of any programming language, even Java.

While Apex, the programming language that is used by Salesforce developers, is similar to Java, there is no need for you to master Java before beginning this journey. So long as you can work with a programming language, you’ll have the opportunity to practice your skills with Apex along the way. With programming languages, it is more important that you understand the logic behind how to solve the problems than to memorize the syntax, and idiosyncrasies of any particular programing language. If you’re able to write an algorithm using Swift, you’ll likely be able to write the same algorithm using Javascript so long as you have access to the documentation for the language.

First off, I’d check out all these courses on LinkedIn Learning.

salesforce exam preparation

Learn the Fundamentals of Salesforce Development

To begin, you’ll want to follow the Salesforce Certified Platform Developer 1 course found on Udemy. After this course, you will be prepared to pass your Platform Developer 1 Exam. The course is an extensive resource on everything you’ll need to know to pass the exam, including:

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  • Triggers, classes and how to use the debugging features of Lightning and Salesforce;
  • Creating and using basic Visualforce pages;
  • The Salesforce data model and how to make queries to retrieve information;
  • How to configure your Salesforce development environment; and
  • How to master the Apex language!


Upon completion of the course, you will be confident and assured that you have an understanding of the basics when you enter your exam. For such a small investment, it will help you spend your time more effectively while you prepare for the salesforce certification exam, rather than trying to scour the internet to find what you’ll need to know.

Master the Apex Programming Language

Once you’ve completed the Salesforce Certified Platform Developer 1 course, you’ll have covered all of the required material that is on the exam. That being said even though you’ve covered the material, it doesn’t mean that you have intimately mastered it. The Apex programming language is an extremely powerful tool and deserves some of your attention as a mastery of this tool will lend itself to you becoming an expert in the field of Salesforce platform development.

The Salesforce Apex Programming Language course found on Udemy is highly rated and provides a much more in-depth look into all that Apex can do. The course is highly rated on Udemy, and the skills learned will help you long after you’ve already earned your Salesforce certifications.

The Salesforce Apex Programming Language course is also a great resource for those of you who may not have the most elaborate background in programming. The course consists of videos and practice assignments which when used together will help you to master all that Apex can do, as well as teach you programming fundamentals, and in the end, you will have mastered the Apex language.

Learn How the Various Aspects of Salesforce Platform Development Work Together

There are many different tools in the Salesforce toolkit. Even for development, you will find that you have Apex, Lightning Components, Visualforce, and more all working together to provide you a robust kit from which to build your applications. Understanding how all of these pieces can best be used together, and when to use each, is an important aspect of Salesforce development. The Salesforce Developer Training with Real-Time Project course on Udemy can help you fully understand these relationships.

In this course, you’ll learn more about using external tools with your Salesforce applications. You’ll be exposed to a variety of web services for Salesforce, as well as gain even more experience using the Apex programming language to accomplish a variety of tasks. While this course will be exceedingly helpful in your preparation for the Salesforce Platform Developer 1 Certification exam, it’ll be even more useful in your next job interview when you just happen to know the answers to any of the questions the interviewer can throw at you.

More Practice!

My final recommendation to ensure that you are fully prepared is the Salesforce Certified Platform Developer 1 Exam Questions on Udemy. Using practice tests is a tried and true method for ensuring that you are fully prepared for an exam. This is even more important when you have to pay to take the exam, and you’ll have to pay again should you require a rewrite. Therefore, you’ll want to succeed the first time, and if you follow this preparation plan, you’ll earn that certification on the first attempt!


What can I expect from the Salesforce Platform Developer 1?

Similar in size to other Salesforce certification exams, the Salesforce PD1 exam consists of 60 multiple choice questions for which you will be provided 110 minutes to complete. To obtain the certification, you must obtain the minimum required score of 67%

The exam can be taken in a supervised testing center or an online testing environment, and you will not be permitted to have any supporting or reference materials with you while you write the exam. The registration fee for the exam is USD 200.00, and if you are required to rewrite the exam, the retake fee is another USD 100.00.

To pass the Salesforce Platform Developer 1 Certification Exam, you will be expected to:

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  • Be able to use the Lightning Platform to build extensions to the capabilities of Salesforce and develop customized business logic for specific purposes;
  • Know how to use the Lightning Platform with Apex and Visualforce, as well as have a grasp on how to use the various Lightning components;
  • Be knowledgeable of the declarative capabilities of the platform;
  • Be able to identify when best to use the declarative or programmatic methods of application assembly;
  • Understand how the Salesforce mobile app is used, and what capabilities it possesses;
  • Be able to work with object-oriented programming languages;
  • Comprehend and work with databases and data-focused applications; and
  • Work with the Model View Controller, and component-based assembly in general.


Sections of the Salesforce PD1 Exam

We’ll now cover the various sections of the exam, and the types of questions you can expect to find in each. Remember, if you find yourself concerned that you are not prepared for any section of the exam, the Salesforce Certified Platform Developer 1 course is an excellent way to build your skills with Salesforce Platform Development.

Salesforce Fundamentals

Representing 10% of the overall test, this section deals with the basics of Salesforce platform development. These questions will cover a range of topics such as what to consider when designing in environments with multiple users and knowing when to use the more powerful declarative tools to further customize the Lightning Platform.

When you’re fully prepared for this section of the test, you’ll be able to:

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  • Describe scenarios when you would use the declarative development options of the Lightning Platform;
  • Answer questions regarding setting up and using a multi-user development environment;
  • Understand the Model View Controller pattern, and how the Salesforce platform can make use of it;
  • Know of common scenario’s where you could extend the features of your application using those found on the AppExchange; and
  • Describe the advanced features and capabilities of Salesforce CRM objects.


Data Modeling and Management

With Salesforce, data and its manipulation are at the heart of everything you’ll do. In this section of the exam, about 12% of it, you’ll be answering questions related to how Salesforce works with data, how you can manipulate the data using the Salesforce platform development tools, and how that data relates to other data within the data model. As a developer working in the Salesforce environment, you need to have a solid understanding of how changes to one aspect of your model can propagate throughout the set.

You’ll be ready to write this section of the exam when:

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  • You can choose the appropriate data model when you are given a set of conditions within a hypothetical scenario;
  • You understand how the various relationship types in Salesforce work, and how they can be affected by access, UI, and programmatic events;
  • You understand the concepts of model design;
  • You can understand and create relationships within your data model;
  • You understand the options available to you for moving your data into or out of your application.


Logic and Process Automation

The largest portion of the exam by far, a total of 46% of the questions will relate to logic and process automation. This shouldn’t be a surprise as this is exactly the reason you put so much effort into learning the fundamentals of object-oriented programming languages and mastering the Apex language. Being such a large section, you will cover a vast amount of information covering many different aspects of designing and building your applications.

To be fully prepared for this portion of the exam, ensure that you:

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  • Can describe how to access and manipulate various objects within the Salesforce environment;
  • Can describe how you would use formula fields to accomplish a variety of tasks;
  • Can explain how and when you would use roll-up summary fields;
  • Describe the declarative automation features available within Salesforce;
  • Make the appropriate choice between declarative automation or apex classes and triggers when given a set of conditions and a scenario;
  • Understand how to declare variables, and set or change their values within your programs;
  • Are familiar with the various data types available in the Salesforce environment;
  • Be confident and familiar with how to create custom classes and interfaces in Salesforce;
  • Be able to explain how to use SOSL, SOQL, and DML statements within Apex;
  • Can process data efficiently using patterns of triggers and classes;
  • Can create custom triggers, and use them in your applications;
  • Explain how governor limits affect Apex transactions;
  • Explain how Apex transactions can be affected by changes in the order of their execution, and what to do about the potential for recursion;
  • Understand and can introduce exception handling into your applications;
  • Can create Visualforce controllers;
  • Know when to use Visualforce controllers over Apex controllers and extensions;
  • Understand the programming techniques required to prevent vulnerabilities in your applications built with Apex and Visualforce; and
  • Know how Apex will affect your ability to use other development tools within the suite.


User Interface

Designing a user interface is an often-understated part of development. Even with all you are expected to be able to accomplish in the logic and process automation section of the exam, you still must be able to design a program that the end-user can use and gain value from. There are various tools available to a Salesforce developer to build applications, and your understanding of each one will help you to design a more satisfying user experience. This section will represent about 10% of the total test.

Consider yourself prepared when you can:

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  • Display your data using the Visualforce system on a Visualforce page;
  • Incorporate various types of web content into the Visualforce system;
  • Know how to incorporate the Visualforce features into the Lightning Platform; and
  • Understand the capabilities and the benefits of working with the Lightning components.



Ensuring that you release a thoroughly tested and working product is something that every developer is extremely familiar with. As the designer, you are so familiar with how the product is supposed to work, you may not be able to determine all the ways that the product may not work. Testing is such an important concept in development that it represents 12% of the Salesforce PD1 exam.

To ensure you will not be surprised by the content in this section, ensure you can:

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  • Describe the testing tools and what you are required to demonstrate before being able to release your application;
  • Write tests for various triggers, classes, and controllers;
  • Understand how to use test data;
  • Make use of the various test classes; and
  • Describe the difference in Apex when it is called from the anonymous or testing modes.


Debug and Deployment Tools

The final 10% of your exam will cover the debugging and deployment of your applications. Yet another important portion of the application development lifecycle, you will be expected to understand the various methods of debugging your application, as well as how you can deploy it throughout your organization. Ensuring that this last part of the development cycle goes well will have a tremendous impact on your end-user, and as such, it is fairly represented on this exam.

Make sure you can:

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  • Describe the various monitoring and debugging tools;
  • Understand the risks and benefits of using the developer tools;
  • Understand how to deploy various types of data and the reasons for each; and
  • Determine how the different development environments vary from one another, and how each contributes to the development process.


Your Salesforce Platform Development Certification

After following along with this guide you’re completely prepared for whatever the exam can throw your way. You now have a solid understanding of the underlying logic in constructing an application. You’ve mastered the Apex programming language, and have studied the various Lightning components, and a plethora of other features of the Salesforce developer’s toolkit.

After everything you have learned following this guide and bringing you to this spot, you should be very proud of yourself. These are complex skills to master, and you have proven that you are worthy of the Salesforce PD1 certification. You are ready for the exam and I wish you the best of luck!

Don’t Forget to Upkeep Your Certification!

I would be remiss not to remind all future certification recipients not to forget to maintain their certification. The Salesforce Platform Development Certification must be maintained through up-training throughout the year. You will be expected to complete three maintenance modules throughout the year. If you fail to complete a maintenance module by that module’s due date, you may lose your certification and have to start over. Don’t let that happen to you!