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Getting Salesforce.com Certified Force.com Developer Certification

I passed the ‘Salesforce.com Certified Force.com Developer’ Certification on Feb 1st, 2013. This certification is based on the Winter 2013 release. I’m sharing my experience here about what to prepare, how to prepare and how to take the exam along with a set of tutorials/guides that covers the exam material. This is by no means a complete list, but I hope this will help people who has the desire to get the developer certification.

Developer Certification Basics

First of all, one need to understand the key point of taking Salesforce Developer track certification. As you might know, there are two certifications available for the development track.

  • The Salesforce.com Certified Force.com Developer
  • The Salesforce.com Certified Force.com Advanced Developer

For the sake of clarity, I’ll just repeat the official description here: The ‘Salesforce.com Certified Force.com Developer’ certification is for those who want to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities in building custom applications and analytics using the declarative capabilities of Force.com platform. What this means is that the ‘Salesforce.com Certified Force.com Developer’ certification merely focuses on declarative capabilities and not the coding capabilities, which is the subject of ‘The Salesforce.com Certified Force.com Advanced Developer’ certification.

What to prepare?

As always, a good start would be the official page of the Salesforce.com Developer Certification. The first thing that you need to do is to go through the study guide. Familiarize yourself on the topics covered in the study guide. There are many resources available from paid to free options. The following table provides you the list of resources that you want to tap to pass the certification:

# Title Format Cost
1 Instructor led course: Building applications with Force.com (DEV 401) Classroom/Virtual $4,000*
Premier Training – Online Courses: Application Essentials, Analytics as Service, Data Management, Designing Applications for Multiple Users, Implementing Business Process, Visual Force Pages
Online $???**
3 Force.com Fundamentals eBook Free
4 Force.com Workbook eBook Free
5 DEV 401 Developer Certification Tutorial from Premier Training (wrote by me) Online Free
6 ForcePrepare.com Tutorials Online Free
7 ForcePrepare.com’s Developer Certification Links to Other Sites Online Free
8 Development with Force.com platform: Building Business Applications in the Cloud Book/eBook $30/$18***
9 Force.com Developer Certification Handbook (DEV401) Book/eBook $67/$29***
10 Pluralsight Training Course – Force.com Platform – The Big Picture Online $29/month ****
11 Pluralsight Training Course – Force.com for Developers Online $29/month ****
* – Comes with free voucher for certification
** – The premier training comes with unlimited edition. I guess the premier training can be bought separately as well, but I’m not sure.
*** – $30 for paperback, $18 for Kindle edition
**** – Doesn’t cover all the topics as prescribed in the study guide, but definitely a useful resource, specifically for newbies.
  • If you can get sponsorship from your company, then you can take the instructor led course; if you are on your own, then $4,000 is little high in my opinion.
  • Likewise, if you have access to premier training through your company’s Salesforce subscription, I highly recommend to utilize it. In my opinion, this will be the single biggest resource that will help you in preparing for your certification.
  • If you have neither of them as stated above, then you have to rely on freely available resources as marked by #3,4,5,6,7 and optionally on the paid edition of a book (#8). Either ways, I would highly suggest to go through the free resources as well, even if you attend the classroom/virtual or the premier training.
  • The premier training is little bit out dated; for e.g. in the Reports module, it talks about only 3 types of reports; Tabular, Summary and Matrix and there is no word about ‘Joined’ report. So going through the other free resources such as Force.com Fundamentals book would bridge these gaps.
  • All of the premier training modules has a sub module titled ‘Introduction to Force.com’ which you can listen for just one module and skip for the rest, as it is repeated for all the modules (and thus saving 30 minutes for each module).

How to prepare?

  • It took me around 3 weeks to prepare from start to finish, approximately 2 hours a day
  • I watched the online premier training three times:
    • 1st time – I simply watched to familiarize the concepts
    • 2nd time – I took the notes which is given below (marked by #5 in the above table)
    • 3rd time – to enforce the understanding on what I learned (during the 2nd and 3rd attempt, I skipped doing the exercises)
  • Signing up for training orgs
    • For premier training, you need to sign up for multiple training orgs. When you sign up, you can select the course module, such as ‘Application Essentials’ which will provide you a pre-configured sandbox.
    • For the Force.com fundamentals and Force.com Workbook, signing up a single training org would be suffice.
    • In both the cases, complete the exercises without fail.
  • Go through the guides that I have written (marked by # 5) and the tutorials from forceprepare.com (marked by #6)
  • ForcePrepare.com has some good links to other resources (marked by #7).
  • Although not a must, if possible, read the book ‘Development with Force.com Platform: Building Applications in the Cloud‘ written by Jason Ouellette. This will be very helpful, specifically, when you don’t have means to attend the instructor led course or the premier training.

About the Certification Exam Questions

  • The questions asked in the certification exam are 100% objective.
  • There is no out of syllabus questions. Every single question came from the syllabus as prescribed by the study guide.
  • Questions types are as follows:
    • true/false
    • single choice
    • multiple choice
    • match the following
  • Majority of the questions are of multiple choice and the ‘match the following’ had only one question
  • With multiple choice questions, be very careful in selecting the right choice(s) as the pattern looked like as follows:
    • many questions had more than one correct answer and you need to select the most correct answers: For e.g. if the question asks to select 2 correct answers, you will find that there will be three correct answers out of four choices, but only two of them will be exactly correct and the third one will be either partially correct or correct only for specific conditions
    • some questions are very tricky such that you need to read the question really very careful.
  • Do not worry much about the governor/edition/feature limits. There were only couple of questions on limits such as how many master detail relationships can an object have?
  • Where there is no mention of edition, always assume it is developer edition.
  • Go through the wizards/menus/setup/object creation/field definition screens and familiarize with the options. Some questions might come from them.
  • I highly discourage against going through the dumps as your primary means of study. Not only that most questions are situation based questions, but the answers that I found in the couple of dumps are entirely wrong, which will only misguide you. You can check the dumps after you finish all the study resources as mentioned above, but take it as a grain of salt.

How to take the exam?

  • Have a good night sleep before the day that you take the exam
  • If you feel tensed/nervous, I suggest you to meditate before you take the exam. At least, take few deep breaths and calm your mind just before taking the exam.
  • Drink fluids/water at least 90 minutes before the exam and use restroom before the start of the exam. Once the exam starts, you can still the use restroom, but the clock will keep running.
  • You will have plenty of time – so do not answer the questions hurriedly. I took only 62 minutes (out of 90 minutes) to complete.
  • The exam allows you to mark for review and come back after you answer all the questions (but before submitting it). But I suggest that take enough time to think through the problem and mark your answer and mark it for review only if you really not sure even after careful thinking. I did mark 20 questions for later review, but after completing it I felt I should be correct for the most questions, if not all – so I just submitted it.
  • A good way to identify the answers, specifically where you either don’t know the correct answer or have doubts, is to eliminate the choices which doesn’t fit the category. For e.g. if the question is something like this:
    • Q: Which report type cannot be used for analytic snapshot?
    • A: i. Tabular, ii. Summary, iii. Pivot, iv. Matrix

Many would chose pivot, because there is no such report type in Salesforce. But that is wrong. Read the question carefully – the question is not about valid report types; it’s about which report type can’t be used with analytic snapshot. So the right answer would be iv. Matrix.

  • You will get the result immediately after the submit, both in the screen and via email.

Certification Tutorial from Premier Training

The following links provides you the complete guide on the topics covered in the study guide. I took these notes from the premier training course.

All the best and wish you good luck in getting certified.

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