Passing Your Salesforce Certified Release Exam

Four things keeping you from passing your Release Exam & strategies for keeping your Salesforce.com credentials, whatever's in your way.
Passing Your Salesforce Certified Release Exam

Passing Your Salesforce Certified Release Exam

Getting a Salesforce.com credential provides quite a bit of value to your career. As the certification website announces, “Get cloud-certified. Become indispensable.” However, keeping your credentials does require taking shorter, additional re-certification exams throughout the year. This blog post will cover strategies to re-certify.

A little more about what & why first. As each Salesforce.com certified administrator or developer knows, there are a couple available tracks to follow in certifying with Salesforce.com. These tracks are based on either the Administrator (ADM201) or the Developer (DEV401) certifications. If the prerequisite exam for your advanced certification(s) was ADM201, then you’ll need to make sure you maintain that credential with the release exam announcement to those holding ADM201. The converse is true for DEV401.

The short five to twelve or so question exams are released on the cadence of the Salesforce releases. So when Winter is rolled-out in your instance in Fall, the release exam is soon to follow. (And since Summer ‘14 was recently released, those release exams are now available!) The questions are open-book and you can also exit the exam then re-enter another day if you need more study time.

Just know, if you are both Developer & Administrator certified you will need a release exam six times per year. And if you don’t take your release exam, in a while you will lose your hard-earned credentials. The release exams are intended to ensure that every certified professional stays up to speed on the latest features and functionality. So in that sense, they really are good for you! So why are you hesitating? 

1. You have to take both release exams… which is overwhelming.

I’d say the strategy in this case is to find a cadence that works for you. I prefer taking the Developer re-certification first, then taking the Administrator one, as most of the questions in the DEV401 re-certification exams reappear in the ADM201. So, I know that if I don’t do well in the former I likely won’t pass the latter.

However, some I know do the reverse. A friend of mine recently described in front of the entire local user group that he takes the Administrator exam first then the Developer re-certification, since he knows that the Administrator will take him eight minutes and the Developer will take him four. Either way you do it, develop your own strategy & cadence…own it.

2. You didn’t take last release & haven’t caught up yet.

If you go into release exam time without your prior one, you will have to start with the last one and catch up. And you can’t let it go even one more release or you’ll lose your certification. Say you received the Spring 14 recert exam notification, and made a mental note, but didn’t yet take it. Then the Summer 14 notice came out a few weeks back. Now you have until the Winter 14 release to catch up.

Not only that, once you do take Spring 14’s re-certification exam after Summer 14 goes live, you’ll be at risk of answering Spring’s exam with items from Summer’s functionality. Hey, it happens, but should it? So let’s make sure to get on top of this.

Dedicate an hour to watching the release training videos, taking screenshots of pertinent slides, then take the recertification exam. Rinse & repeat for the next release as quickly as possible. You’ll feel much less on edge and stressed. Not to mention that staying current on your release exams also means you get to keep your other advanced Salesforce.com certifications.  All hail the certified professional.

3. You think it’s gonna be a piece of cake…but you failed before.

Confidence, good. Speeding through without being thorough, not so good. You get twenty or thirty minutes, it’s open book, so go through the exam questions a couple times. The first time, mark the answers that you’re not 100% confident on with the “mark for review” flag. The next time you go through your exam questions, take time to search for answers in the release notes, review your notes or screenshots from the release videos, and answer the remaining questions. Before you hit submit, take note of any topics or features you still may not feel confident in…and...submit.

If you don’t pass, you know what you need to dig into on review. Take a few days to go over it a little more. Log into your developer instance and play with and test the feature. Then, before they announce any new releases, take your exam again. You’ll be on much better ground.

4. You’re too busy with your “real” work. You’ll get to it later.

If you know Salesforce.com functionality and work with a good chunk of features, it shouldn’t take long. It often takes me less than ten minutes per release exam. Maybe eleven minutes, since I need to log into the certification site, open up the release notes & my screenshots. Just be careful about leaving it too long. As we mentioned before, you risk lapsing in your certification. And can you really do your day job while you study for the full exam again? We didn’t think so.

For the story on this straight from Salesforce.com, download their Release/Maintenance Process + Resources Overview to review their most recent process & resources available. Haven’t yet taken a certification? Check out Go to the Salesforce Certification site for information on certifying, official study guides & to sign up for an exam. 

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have additional points or questions on re-certifying, find me on Twitter at @SeriouslyKyla or comment on the Salesforce Success Community, our Facebook page or comment below.


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