So, you failed your Salesforce Certification Exam.
It’s not a good feeling, especially after all of the work you’ve put in with hopes of a better outcome. But failing Salesforce Certification Exams, not just once but several times, is quite normal! These exams are not designed to be easy, and certainly prove to be challenging. But what can you do prepare when you sit for the next one? Here’s how to get started.
Review How You Performed on Each Section.
More recently, Salesforce has been providing results for each section of the exam in addition to your Pass/Fail result. These results can be used as guidance to help you understand which sections you may have underperformed on. When creating your new study plan, you can direct more of your focus towards these areas.
This is especially helpful considering that sometimes, you may have felt you were more or less prepared than you actually performed. That being said, this will help you drill down and begin to understand where you need improvement for the next exam, and what exactly you should be doing to ensure that you are better prepared on those weaker areas.
Recall which questions or topics you struggled on the most.
Were there questions that stuck out to you as ones that you felt you didn’t have the slightest idea how to answer? How about topics that you didn’t realize would be on the exam? Take a mental note of these as these will also be topics that you should spend extra time reviewing.
However, do note that attempting to memorize questions in anticipation for the next round is not a good strategy. Not only do the questions often change between exams, but attempting to memorize questions does not demonstrate your product knowledge – and will not help you when a slightly different question is asked!
Determine what aspects of the test you struggled on.
When you felt yourself stumbling on certain questions, ask yourself – was this due to a lack of product knowledge? Or was it a matter of understanding the question, and choosing the best answer?
While you may know a product well, understanding the question being asked is just as important. If you struggled with the format of the exam, consider taking some practice exams. These will help you learn how to take the test, and help you understand how the test expects you to use your knowledge.
(Re)turn to Trailhead.
As much as practice exams can help you get over the passing line, sometimes it’s not so much figuring out how to answer the question, but ensuring that your familiarity with the subject matter is as best as it can be.
Did you have any questions that you felt that you couldn’t answer due to a lack of product knowledge? If so, turn to Trailhead and go through that subject (or potentially, go through it again). And make sure not to skip out on the challenges! We often learn by doing, and even if you’ve completed these challenges before, repetitive practice can help cement the concepts that you previously struggled with.
You may also notice while reading through Trailhead that some of the concepts discussed directly in the modules do show up as exam content. While they may not be written the same way, if you go back to review these concepts in Trailhead, your understanding of these concepts should help you the next time around on the exam.
Beyond Trailhead, feel free to spin up your own dev org to practice. If there’s any further clarification you need on certain topics, you can test things out for yourself here.
For me personally, this helped my pass the Sales Cloud Consultant Exam on my second try. After failing the first exam, I realized that Territory Management was not my strong suit (despite it being such a big topic!). But after getting some practice in with my Sandbox org, the concepts I was unsure on became much clearer.
Don’t Skip out on Salesforce Help Articles!
While studying for the exam, Salesforce will often redirect you to Help Articles and documentation for additional information. Do not skip out on these! Just like with Trailhead, making sure you understand the concepts listed in these articles will ultimately help you during your next exam. This is especially the case for ‘Considerations’ pages, as understanding these is a great demonstration of product knowledge and will often be questioned.
Another sales-related example of this are considerations for multiple currencies. As part of the Sales Cloud Consultant Exam, you need to know how currencies are presented in different places within your org when multiple currencies is enabled. There’s a Help article available that will display all of this information in one page for reference.
When studying, you can easily read this information and place it in a table. But what you should also do is follow along in your practice org to really cement what you’re studying.
Let’s go back to the multiple currency example. To demonstrate your knowledge of multiple currencies, you need to understand which currency will be displayed in certain areas, such as record pages and reports, as well as how the second currency will display. Additionally, can you make changes to which currencies are displayed, and if so, how?
While we can commit these to memory, we can really understand this information in the long-term if we make use of our practice org too. For example, let’s enable multiple currencies and produce a report. Which currency is displayed as the primary currency? The secondary? Additionally, is the ISO code displayed for the currency? If so, where?
By using our practice org, we’re validating what we’re reading in the Help articles, thus not only committing them to memory, but also proving our understanding of them – which is ultimately what certifications are all about, right?
Don’t Delay on Scheduling the Next One.
After failing the exam, you may want to be absolutely sure that you’re ready for the next exam before rescheduling. But sometimes, this can lead to putting off the exam another week, and then another, and then another…
And then before you know it, it’s been a few months since you’ve taken the exam.
As much as you may want things to be absolutely perfect for your retake, if you keep putting it off, you may lose some of the knowledge (and test-taking mindset) that you’ve retained while studying the previous time. For that reason, I highly recommend keeping he momentum going – as discouraging as failing an exam may be!
Last But Not Least – Don’t Sweat It!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – these exams are meant to be hard. Even if you’ve been working with a particular product for years, the questions are made to trick you. It can be discouraging to fail, especially when seeing others getting their Certifications – but just know, they likely failed many times too!
I often like to apply the mindset that failures are not failures, but lessons learned – and this is highly applicable for certification exams, too. Yes, the results quite literally say ‘Fail’ – but think of all the things you’ve learned while studying! Additionally, think of all the things you will be learning for your next attempt.
Sitting for exams whether you pass or fail also teaches a lot about yourself, your learning style, and where your personal strengths and weaknesses might be when it comes to taking exams.
So maybe you failed your Salesforce Certification Exam, but there’s always next time. And with these tips, I hope you’ll be able to pass the next one!
Julie Anna Contino
Julie Anna is a junior developer with a passion for learning and problem-solving. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and has four years of development experience. She's excited to be a part of the Salesforce ecosystem and combine her previous experience with her passion for helping clients thrive.
We’re an Austin-based Salesforce Consulting Partner, with a passion and belief that the Salesforce platform’s capabilities can help businesses run more efficiently and effectively. Whether you are just getting started with Salesforce or looking to realize its full potential, Roycon specializes in Salesforce Implementations, Salesforce Ongoing Support, and Salesforce Integrations, and Development. We’re the certified partner to guide the way to increase Salesforce Adoption, make strategic decisions, and build your Salesforce Roadmap for success.