How To Pass Salesforce Certification Maintenance Exams, Every Time.

The following is a set of steps I use to study for Salesforce certification maintenance exams, or in my case more specifically the developers’ maintenance exams.  When following this prescription, I’ve never failed.  I originally posted this information to the LinkedIn Salesforce.com Certification Group.  I highly recommend joining it.

The certification folks at SFDC should be including, within the certification maintenance notification emails, links to the release notes and educational videos. If you get a notice without these links contact the certification team. In my experience, they’re a very helpful bunch of people.

Also within the notification email you’ll get very specific pointers on what and how to study. I’ve never gotten a notice that didn’t somehow tell me explicitly which topics would be directly tested. I find that 90% of a maintenance exam is an exercise in following those directions. Here’s what I do:

1. Do a quick overview of the “Contents” of the release notes PDF, peeking further in on topics that are unfamiliar.  I do pay particular attention to the specific topics for my exam’s section as given in the notification e-mail, but I also do this to make myself generally aware of the all changes in this present release.

2. Watch every one of the recommended video topics for your exam type (dev, admin, etc). If time permits I watch the others, more for rounding out my knowledge rather than the exam itself.

3. As I watch the videos for my topics I type out every spoken word in a text editor, just to help commit things to memory. Also, each video has its presenter’s script under the video. It helps me keep up my typing with what’s being spoken.

4. Go to WebAssessor, login etc, and get to the point just before starting the exam. Then I open a Salesforce.com help/search page, the release notes PDF as given in the notice, and our good friend Google. I don’t think I’ve ever needed reference materials open for maintenance exams (but I wish I had it on the original certification exam! ;). Begin!

5. As each question comes I give an initially quick but thoughtful answer and print it out right after answering. Then on to the next question. I mark for review the ones that give me immediate trouble or concern.  (Although, as I mentioned, I’ve never failed since adopting this method, were I to fail an exam I would take the print outs and use them to mine the docs, release notes and reference material to find out where I went wrong. )

6. When I’ve gone through all of the questions I go back and give each question one more check, looking through release notes if have to, sometimes even scrambling to find the right spot in one of the videos. Don’t stress, there’s ample time if you’ve studied.

I’ve noticed that the majority of questions are intentionally trick questions. They are not necessarily difficult with regard to the material, but certainly are intended to snag people who haven’t done sufficient studying. My entire studying time tends to run 1 to 1.5 hours, with another half hour to take the exam.

I hope this helps.

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