Salesforce Certification & Transition Exam

In my previous post, I wrote about taking certification at Dreamforce. In this post, I’ll share some experiences on certification and the advantages of taking this at Dreamforce.

Why at Dreamforce?

Let’s begin with why you would want to do it at Dreamforce. First, you pay only 50% of your exam fees when you take the exam at Dreamforce. From my experience, it was better at Dreamforce than taking the exam in the regular proctored centers. You get to meet people with the same career direction and get to network and help each other. I met few people and got friends with them. We now share knowledge, materials on our future exams and get to share tips. Another thing is, the support you get from Salesforce people is very helpful if you have issues with the account/email tied to your certification. I had an issue with my certification registration and it was easy to go directly to the helpdesk to get it resolved. So, if you can, try to take the exam at Dreamforce.

How to face Certification session at Dreamforce

The first-ever session I attended at #DF17 was the session about facing the certification exam. If you are attempting your first certification exam it would be very useful, it helps if you already had taken the exam too. You get to ask questions to the people that designed the exam. Unfortunately, they don’t reveal the questions ;-).

Trailhead! Trailhead! Trailhead!

The best way to start your preparation for the certification is Trailhead. Go through your study guide and look at the topics and create a Trailmix with all the related trails and start your journey through the trails. Trailmix is an awesome feature, that I’ve started exploring and it’s very useful.

The other means to prepare is using the actual documentation available online. The official certification page has a lot of resources and links that you’d need. If you can take up the in-person or online classes, you have that option which I used for my first Force.com Developer (401) certification back in 2013.

Practice Exams

Practice exams are a good way to familiarize with the exam format. Salesforce has started offering practice exams for a fee. See webassessor to see the practice exams available. There are many other practice exams and questions out there online. If you plan to use those resource, I’d suggest not to rely on the answers provided as I’ve seen many wrong answers in them.

While taking the exam

When you appear for the exam, relax your mind, drink a lot of water before you go and take a water bottle with you. Once you are in, you cannot go out in the middle of the exam. So finish all your bio needs before the exam.

  • You get 3 sheets of plain paper and pencil for you to write/draw that will help you during the exam. You cannot take the paper out when you go out of the exam room.
  • While answering, skip the answer options that you are sure is not the right option, so you have fewer options to deal with.
  • If you are not sure about a question, don’t spend more time on it, mark it for review and move on. You can come back after you’re done with all the questions and look into it. The marked for review questions have a * next to it. You can also review all the questions not just the marked for review questions before you are done if need be and have time for it. Marking for review helps if you are running out of time at the end and want to quickly go back to a few questions to make sure you have the right answer.

Results

You get the result instantly once you submit the exam followed by an email with the exam results, score %, and the certificate pdf file. A good thing now is, you get the percentage you scored on each topic. It helped me when I didn’t pass one of the exams I tried and I’m using that score to focus more on those topics. So, if you are someone who passed or working on “Integration Architecture Designer”, please ping me, let’s help each other :-)

Transition from Force.com Developer (401)

If you are someone like me that didn’t realize that your Force.com Developer Certification has expired, you may still have a chance. Reach out to the SalesforceU support and ask if you can take the transition exam to Salesforce Platform App Builder, you may still have luck like I had and got certified.

Some of the helpful resources are,

LinkedIn – Salesforce certification Group
Salesforce Certification Study Group
Salesforce Certification Professional Group
http://www.salesforceben.com
http://www.sfdc99.com

Wish you the best with your certifications. If you’d like to connect with me, please contact me by Email, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Dreamforce 2017 Experience and Lessons Learned

Dreamforce 2017 was my second time at this ever-growing monstrous conference.  When you sit to work on your agenda, you will be overwhelmed by the range of sessions available. The first thing I did was to mark my favorite sessions and then realized I ended up with a lot of overlapping sessions. However, if you spent little more time in prioritizing and planning, this can be done and make a lot out of this tremendous conference. Let me share what I learned from my experience.

Certifications (Pre-conference vs During conference)

If you are planning and preparing to be certified, I bet, you’ll not find a better time than Dreamforce to get yourself, your honor, to be a Salesforce Certified Professional. I attempted a couple of certifications and I did that during the conference and passed 2x. That’s something a lesson learned for me (personally). I felt I missed some of the sessions and conference time due to my during conference certifications. I wish I had it done pre-conference, however, if you plan to take on multiple certifications like I attempted, you don’t have a choice. But still, do one of that pre-conference. I’ll write more about the certification and the Force.com developer (401) certification transition in a different post.

Keynote

I personally didn’t want to miss some of the important keynotes if not all. My focus was on the keynote by “The Marc Benioff” and of course the Developer Keynote as the top priority and saved others for later. So I “reserved seat” for these Keynotes first.

Breakout Sessions

These are the 40 min sessions that you’d find the long queue to enter and if you are late, you might be turned away if the house is full, yes, believe me. Here as well, I picked the ones that are more important ones to me. Some have reserve seat option. I favorited other sessions I liked so I have it on my agenda to decide later. Another reason being, even if you miss these you can catch up on youtube. So if you haven’t done already, I’d suggest subscribing to the Dreamforce Youtube channel.

Theatre Sessions

These are the 20 mins sessions in the Dev / Admin Zone. I ended up attending this a lot as I was hanging around the Dev zone a lot, I’ll tell why I did that below. These are quick sessions and very useful ones.

Dev / Admin zone demos

Personally, this is one of the best things at Dreamforce. The reason I told you that I attended more theatre sessions was this. I tried to stop by almost all of the dev demo booths and listened to “The Engineers / Architects” that worked on all these features we use in Salesforce. I was able to watch demos, listen to them, ask questions and clear things that I was working on in my projects. Try to spend more time here and plan to attend the sessions that you marked favorite in between.

The little challenges in the dev zone give you a good learning curve and also “earn” some swags. Yes, unlike previous years, no more free swags or books. You gotta earn the swags and pay for the printed books. Most of the materials you need for Salesforce are available online.

The Expo

The next important thing was the expo where you can learn how these partners can help us do things easier. Again these demo and discussions with these partners are good lessons you learn.

Trailhead

Trailhead was everywhere! And the way they have built is phenomenal. I didn’t pay much attention to Trailhead prior to #DF17. I personally like the “myTrailhead” they have introduced. I also love the concept of Trailmixes, that lets you group the trails you want to cover for a set goal. There’s a lot to learn there.

My strategy worked for me well, I’m catching up on the other keynotes, sessions I missed on YouTube now.

If you are planning for Dreamforce 2018 (Sep 25-28), book your hotels now! If possible, try to be at a walking distance to the Moscone Center.

Happy Dreamforcing !!!

PS: Please share your comments and feedback and follow me on twitter @berginpanimayam let’s be connected.