The unofficial guide to become a Certified Salesforce Administrator (ADM 201)


In my attempt at maximum certifications in 60 days, I completed Salesforce Certified Administrator exam on February 11th 2013

So you have decided to ramp up your career and take certifications in your hand. Good choice. It is also likely that this is the first time you have heard of Salesforce, certification and since your company has a vision of you completing the certification you have decided to do it.

At this stage it is likely that,

You have done extensive googling. You have received countless brain-dumps. And you have received plenty of advise from different types of users which ranges from Admin certification is easier than making coffee to Admin certification is tougher than building a rocket-ship to fly off to the moon.

The purpose of this guide is to give you a clear understanding of what to expect when you are expected to become Certified Salesforce Administrator. To bring sense to all the things you have seen so far and to clearly explain what to do and what not to do.

Salesforce Certified Administrator is the first step of understanding Salesforce. It is one step below Salesforce Certified Developer and one step above what you know about Salesforce.

Few things to know before you go further:

  • The exam is NOT called ADM 201. ADM 201 is the name of course that you have to give before taking the exam. In web-assessor you won't find ADM201 but look for Salesforce Certified Administrator.
  • Salesforce certified administrator tests your knowledge on Salesforce CRM and basics of platform. It is useful even if you are indirectly involved in Salesforce. 

These are some Do's and Don'ts for the certification that will help you get through it.

  1. First and foremost is go through the certification website to explore the topics for the exam. This is a very important step and many fail to do so. For one, Salesforce keeps updating every 3-4 months. Every year there are 3 releases and that adds the syllabus. It is very likely that the material you have is outdated or has some topics missing.
  2. Where to get help? The first stop should always be 'Help and Training' link in your Salesforce org. If your org has Premier Success Plan enabled, then that is sufficient material to clear the exam. If you are a decision maker in your org, I will recommend you get one.
  3. Salesforce offers you a free Developer Org that you can use as a practice org. Make sure you do a hands-on of topics and not just mug up things.
  4. Read the questions that come in the exam very carefully. The questions are twisted and scenario based. It is very likely that if you have mugged the brain dumps, your answers are either outdated or wrong.
  5. Focus on security model of Salesforce. By no chance, should you skip security. If you plan to do some bizarre stunt by reading only one topic for the exam (really?) you should do security.
  1. Don't mug up any brain dumps that are available on the web or are available with your colleague or that stranger on Linkedin who has gracefully given them to you. It may be just me, but mugging up brain dumps is not going to do you or anyone any good. Also look up Do's point 1.
  2. Give any mock exams available on the web, many answers are conflicting and are also wrong. 
  3. During the exam, don't waste too much time on a question. If there is a question you do know answer for, mark it for review and come back later. ATTEMPT all the questions in the exam without fail. There is no negative marking in the exam, so don't skip any question.
  4. Don't, and this is very important, don't be afraid if this exam. It is one the most easiest exam to crack. It is introduction to Salesforce and its products. If you have a good understanding of Salesforce, you can easily pass this exam.
Exam Giving tips:
  1. The exam consist of 60 multiple-choice question
  2. You will have 90 minutes to complete the exam. 
  3. You get roughly 1.5 minutes per question, don't utilize it completely at the beginning. 
  4. The questions whose answers are straightforward can be answered quickly. Don't waste too much time on any question at the start of the exam. Answer those questions which you have full confidence and mark others as review.
  5. If you do not know the right answer, try eliminating the wrong answers first. Whatever remains, however improbable it may be should be the right answer.
  6. It should not take you more than an hour to complete the whole exam with this method, that gives you half an hour to solve the difficult questions. Once you have reached question number 60, go back to question 1 and this time quickly skim through answered questions and spend more time on questions marked for review.
Hope this tips help. Do let me know when you become a Salesforce Certified Administrator.
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