Certification Exam Preparation Tips

02/28/2013 by Larry Salvatoriello
Here is a list of exam preparation tips for first time Certification exam takers.

If you are someone who has never taken a Certification exam, you may think that the 65-69% you need to pass cannot be that hard to do.  Let’s face it, that is a failing grade in most colleges people attend. But don’t let that fool you.  There are some rumors that 40% of people fail their 1st time and I believe it’s due to lack of preparation.  As someone who recently passed the Sales Cloud Consultant exam and has passed a few others in my day, I thought it would make sense to pass along some tips that helped me.

Where to Start
The very first thing you should do is understand the logistics.  All exams consist of 60 multiple choice questions and you are given 90 minutes to complete them.   You can take the exam online or go to a testing center but there are absolutely no outside materials allowed in either case. Each question is presented one at a time and all of them are available for review at the end.   One nice thing the exam allows you to do is flag a question which will help speed up the review process.

Leverage Content gives you a study guide for each exam that outlines the objectives and their weighting. This is your starting point for studying.  Make sure you review the guide(s) and understand the areas you feel you are strong in and the ones you aren’t.  This will help outline where you need to spend the most of your study time.  After you got your outline, it is time to go after content to help you study.  The content is pretty much everywhere.  There are even published books worth reading.  I personally used “ for Dummies” when I studied to become a Certified Administrator.  If you are partner of, the Partner Portal offers a wealth of articles on many of the topics and I would highly recommend you use it.  If you don’t have access to the Partner Portal, good old Google and Amazon are places to start searching.

Social Studies
Along with good study materials, there are many social platforms and blogs that offer a ton of first-hand experience and real-time support.  A couple worth mentioning is the Training and Certification User Group on LinkedIn and, a website/blog by John Coppedge dedicated to helping people pass the exams.  Use these types of sites and groups for content like practice exams, asking questions or even find a study group or study buddy in your area.

First-Hand Experience
Study materials and support groups are great but nothing is better than first-hand experience with the functionality you are studying. offers 30-day trials that you can quickly get up and running. Implement the functionality and test it.  It is by far the best way to learn and prepare for an exam especially in areas you aren’t strong in.

Take a Class
I have not taken any of the classes offers for the certifications but I heard great things from those who have.  If you have the time to take a 5-day course and are willing or your company is willing to pay the $3,000 plus price tag, then this is a great option.  The class focuses on the material you will be tested on and comes with a voucher for the exam.

Day of the Exam
The final preparation for the exam is on test day.  Make sure you get good sleep and eat well. This will give you the energy and focus to successfully pass the exam.  Do not spend too much time on any particular question.  Use the scrap paper to capture some thoughts around the question and move on to the next one.  You can come back to the ones you are unsure of at the end.

All the content and support you need to pass is at your fingertips. Make sure you use it and prepare yourself mentally and physically.  Good Luck!  If you would like to discuss further tweet at me at or comment below.