How to Pass the Salesforce Admin 201 Exam.

As you know, many excellent guides abound on how to pass the Salesforce.com Admin 201 exam. Here’s how I passed.

Study like mad for nine months.
My approach while preparing for the Salesforce Admin 201 exam involved a dedicated two-hours per night of study. My main source of information was John Coppedge’s most excellent site Certified On Demand. There is a one-time $40.00 lifetime membership fee to gain full access to John’s site. The money is well spent however and I can say I never had an issue with John or accessing his site. I still use John’s site as a learning resource. Thank you John Coppedge!

Yes there are many, many, other excellent resources out here too. I just happened to key into John’s logic. Check out David Liu’s site, and Jenwalee’s site. Or if you happen to have $4,000.00 to spend you can sign up for the exam prep class at Salesforce University.

Schedule the exam, but don’t tell anyone.
After a while you will not be able to process or absorb any more information and you will say, “Ok, let’s just grab this pig by the tail and swing it around.” Or “OK, I think I’m ready. I’d like to take the exam now.” Log into Webassessor, establish a profile, and schedule the exam. I scheduled my exam three weeks out. This gave me a deadline and incentive to focus. But I did not tell anyone I was going to take the exam because I had an eerie feeling that something was not quite right.

Fail the exam.
This is actually an important and viable step. Many people who take the Salesforce Admin exam fail the first time. I failed during my first attempt and this is where my suspicions about the exam were confirmed.The questions on the Admin 201 exam where unlike anything I had seen before. Despite all my preparations, ten questions into the exam I knew I was not going to pass.

If you’re taking the exam for the first time prepare yourself for the possibility that you might fail. I still recommend using Certified On Demand and any and all other Salesforce resources you can squeeze into your study schedule – because you will actually need this knowledge during the exam.

But here’s how I passed the second time.

During my first attempt at the exam exam, when I knew I was not going to pass, I memorized as many questions as I could. After failing, I went to my car and I wrote down all the questions I could remember. Then when I got home, I typed those questions into Google. Suddenly the real test material started to reveal itself. I was not happy!

Feel sorry for yourself – limit two days – no self-destructive behavior.
After putting such an effort into learning Salesforce I was crestfallen when I did not pass. I had done so well on the Certified On Demand practice exams and felt I knew Salesforce well enough to pass. But I did not pass and I allowed myself a few days to feel like poo. Then I remembered what the elderly Japanese exam proctor said to me the morning I failed the exam. He looked me in the eye, balled up his fist, raised it in the air and said, “Never give up. Never give up!”

Study the correct material.
Once you lock onto the correct exam material you will understand how to adapt your studying in preparation for retaking the exam. One big hint here is that if you can afford to take the Salesforce University prep course ($4,000.00) I believe you have a better shot at passing the first time over someone who has not taken that course. I have no proof but I sense that during that course you get some powerful hints as to how the exam questions are structured.

Reschedule the exam but don’t tell anyone.
I approached my second attempt with some trepidation. I still believed I might fail given the somewhat unorthodox approach to studying for the second attempt. I decided not to broadcast the news that I was retaking the exam in case I failed it again. But, as fate would have it – I passed. But this is only because I saw the questions the first time around and looked them up when I got home. And for the record, this was a very strange way to pass an exam. But, life is odd sometimes. I should say, and this is very important, had I not studied for 9 months via Certified On Demand I still would not have passed the second time. You actually need to know how Salesforce works to pass the exam. (You also need to know how to memorize things.)

Pass the exam and tell everyone.
For a few days after passing the Salesforce Admin 201 exam I was so conflicted over how I had passed that I could not tell many people about the results. My hunch that the exam questions “had to be out there somewhere” was just that – a hunch. And the ludicrous notion that all a person had to do was to memorize the questions and corresponding answers to pass seemed well, ludicrous!!

But as I reflected on the exam I realized I would have most certainly failed again had I not spent the previous 9 months studying and actually learning how Salesforce works. I felt slightly better and began to tell people I had passed the exam.

The last paragraph.
I wish Salesforce would revisit how their exams are structured. In truth the exam material is so far removed from the realities of how Salesforce works. Simply put the exam is a body unto itself and the material needed to pass the exam has not benefited me at all other than allowing me to tell people that I passed the exam. Lately I’ve been known to say, “Just because you pass the Salesforce Admin exam does not mean you know everything about Salesforce.”

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2 Responses to How to Pass the Salesforce Admin 201 Exam.

  1. Anonymous September 25, 2017 at 11:41 am #

    I wish I had never read your post.

  2. Joe Kyle September 25, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

    Dear Anonyms, sorry to hear that. Let me try to help. When I say “fail the exam” I’m only telling you to just be PREPARED to not pass the first time ONLY in case it happens. It happens to many people – even our Salesforce heroes. The point is you should never give up. If you fail the first time your chances of passing the second time are high because you’ve seen the structure of the test and have a sense of what the subject matter is. I’ve reread my blog post and yes, it could be clearer. Here is the bottom line; You need to “know” Salesforce to pass the exam. You learn Salesforce through Trailhead, and Certified On Demand, etc. But you also need to key into the test creators methodology. The only way to do that is to take the test. Don’t lose hope – I’m certain you will pass. I have passed two other exams since this post. In both cases I studied like mad. Yes, part of that study involves flash cards and practice exams – they have been helpful. But in the end, you really need to know Salesforce to pass the exams. The only way to do that is through hands on practice with your developer org and learning through other resources. Check out David Liu’s Blog – I could not have passed without him. If you follow David you will pass. I hope this helps. Joe

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