Filed under: Administration August 10, 2009

I passed the Administrator Exam (ADM201) last week.  I feel pretty good since rumor says about 40% fail on the first attempt.  Here are some notes on my experience, starting with the exam itself and then the preparation.

The Exam

The exam was challenging enough to raise the blood pressure, but was not as hard as a college entrance exam like the GMAT or SAT.  While I could rely on memorization for most of the questions, there were several where I had to connect the dots to figure out the answer.

The exam had 60 multiple choice questions and 67% was the passing grade.  90 minutes were allotted to complete the exam.  As I understand it, there was a pool of questions and 60 were picked at random.  The Study Guide outlines the percentages of each major topic, but I could not tell if the exam held true to the percentages since the questions were presented in random order.

There were a few questions with only one answer, but most had several correct answers.  Most of them said pick two or pick three so they were not completely open ended.  This might seem to worsen the odds of picking the right answers, but if I knew one answer for sure, then the odds actually got better.

The questions were not as obscure as some bloggers suggested.  The questions have probably evolved over time so there may have been some obscure questions in earlier versions.  One obvious piece of advice was to read the questions and answers carefully, especially those with NOT, CANNOT, and EXCEPT in them.  I was provided with two pieces of paper and it helped to answer the questions as TRUE and then transpose them to fit the question format.

90 minutes was a comfortable amount of time to complete the exam.  My first pass took about 60 minutes.  The exam application allowed me to check questions for later review and I had 21 questions checked after the first pass.  That was right around the 67% passing grade, assuming the ones I did not check were correctly answered.  I guesstimated that I needed to get at least five of my uncertain answers correct.  My second pass at the 21 uncertain questions took about 25 minutes and I changed about five of the answers.

After I pressed the final ‘submit’ button, the exam application said I passed.  It did not tell me my actual percentage grade.  I then received an email about an hour later confirming my passing grade and that I would be receiving a certificate.

Exam Preparation

I became a user earlier this year.  I went through two of the online classes:

  • ADM100 Salesforce CRM Fundamentals
  • SFA101 Sales Representative Fundamentals

Both took about an afternoon each and provided a good overview of the application and especially the terminology.

I then took the Administration Essentials for Enterprise or Unlimited Edition (ADM201) class for four days at the offices in San Mateo.  The class training manual was indispensable because of the detailed examples of all the features.  The exam definitely gets into the details.  The instructor, Brian, was a highly trained professional who was able to explain the complex interactions (especially permissions, security, and access) as well as keep us on task.  It would have taken much longer to figure out some of this stuff without a strong instructor.

I gave myself a goal by signing up for the certification exam.  A voucher for the exam was included in the tuition, but I did not have to take the exam at the end of the class.  I scheduled my exam at WebAssessor.  It looks like they have locations around the world.  My local test center had times open everyday except Thursdays.

My next step was to spend about 14 hours reviewing all the material again, including the Study Guide.  The Study Guide is a supplement to the training materials from the class.  By itself, its primary value was as a checklist of what to study as it had the outline of the exam.  It also had additional information that was not in the training materials although obscured by repeated material as well.  There was one question on the exam that I think was only in the Study Guide (sorry, I can’t say what it was).

I used the Developer Edition account as part of the review.  The Developer Edition has all the features regardless of which edition you are subscribed to.  It also allows trying out scenarios without disrupting the production instance.

I also used my iPhone Notes application to create flashcards.  Since the exam was mostly about memorization, flashcards were a great tool.  Since my iPhone was always with me, I could also randomly quiz myself anytime.  I had about 15, but should probably have had twice as many.  I kept each flashcard to lists of seven or less since I was unlikely to remember anything longer.

Finally, I did the sample questions in the Study Guide and the practice exam at ProProfs Quiz School.  I did find they were representative of the actual exam questions.  I do not know how feels about the ProProfs sample questions, but there was a question in the Study Guide that was very similar to one I encountered on the exam.

Breadth of

The certification was one thing, but the real eye-opener was uncovering the depth and breadth of the application. I probably underestimated the amount of effort required by an order of magnitude.

P.S. Certification Maintenance

For every new release of, there is a Maintenance Exam that must be passed to keep my certification. This occurs around three times per year. It typically contains 15 questions covering the new features with a time limit of 30 minutes. Salesforce provides several video presentations and Release Notes for preparation. So far it has taken me about eight hours to review all the materials and self-create some examples in my developer account for each Maintenance Exam.

Salesforce charges $100 per year that covers the Maintenance Exams.

P.P.S. Home Study

Home Study For The ADM201 Certification Exam

P.P.P.S. Home Study

Certification Review Video from Dreamforce 2009

  1. Sunny says:


    Can you tell something more about SFDC Certified Consultant exam? How were the questions and what reference material you have used?


  2. peps says:

    this post is really have mentioned about the study guide giving actual representation,how much of it was repeated any percentage ratings,if it is possible to say it out and not against the sites policy?

    • Hayata Takeshita says:

      It was a long time ago so I do not recall. The Study Guide does provide the percentage of each subject area so I recommend using that as your guide.

  3. Hayata Takeshita says:

    There are training videos on iTunes and YouTube. I couldn’t find anything directly for System Administrator or Consultant Certification as of this writing, however.

  4. Samridhi says:


    I am planning to do Salesforce Certification. I want to know if the exam can be passed by self study with the material available on salesforce website and some material given in the forums. Or attending classes is a must?

    • Hayata Takeshita says:

      I have heard of people passing without taking the class. I don’t know how hard they studied. I think everything you need to know about the system is in the Online Help. You will need a login to access it. Sign up for a Developer Edition account if you do not have access to an org.

  5. Samridhi says:

    Thanks :)

  6. Deepa Patel says:

    This is very useful and thank you for all the tips

  7. Sasthanand PK says:

    Yes, even I have come across people who passed the ADM(201) exam without going through the training. Can anyone tell me if going through the Help&Training session of SFDC alone is enough to learn – along with the “Study Guide” available in website?

  8. Hayata Takeshita says:

    @Sasthanand PK
    I imagine reviewing the online help, going through the online training, and narrowing the focus with the Study Guide would work. All the information is there. The difficulty would be getting the actual hands-on experience. For myself, it is hard to recall something when I actually haven’t performed it. That’s why I was never good at history exams because I didn’t actually live it.

  9. ForcePrepare says:

    A new resource for Developer Certification exam. It has mock exam and tutorials.

  10. Nikkie says:

    I have attended the admin class 201 in San Mateo but we did not cover the forecast and territory assignment topic. Do you remember having some questions about forecasting and territory management?

    • htakeshita says:

      I don’t recall exactly. I want to say no, but it was a long time ago. Also, the exam does change from time to time. Salesforce does a survey of current certified professionals about their actual experience and makes adjustments as necessary.

  11. John says:

    I have been a SF user and want to become an admin, with no prior technical background. And I see that the classes are very expensive.

    Do you know of any ways to economical ways to prepare for these exams without having to pay for their courses?

  12. swathi says:

    i want to take SFDC developer certification can u say me the process and link where the dates,locations and other information is available

  13. John says:

    are there tutorials online to prepare for the tests without taking the Salesforce courses?

    • htakeshita says:

      I have seen recordings of the DEV classes on iTunes. I haven’t seen anything for the admin certifications. There are some online training classes in the online Help in the system, but they are not specifically for certification.

  14. John says:

    I also like to hear feedbacks from others who have gone on to become SF admins about the stability and job prospects of this field.

    • htakeshita says:

      You may want to join a LinkedIn group to ask about job prospects. Salesforce Power Users Group is a good group. Certified Professionals is also a good group for those already certified.

      Salesforce has forums on their website as well which can be joined by just having a Developer Edition free account.

  15. Pratik says:

    Hi I am Pratik. I have many confusions regarding salesforce certification. I am an Electronics & Comm graduate & have done my MBA in Marketing.Currently I am territory manager in sales department. I came to knw about this certi. from one of my friend. My confusion is being a marketing student, will this certification be useful to me. Based on my qualification can you suggest me which salesforce certification shld i do? What are my career opporrtunities after doing this certi? Plz reply me ur suggestion will help me to decide my career.


  16. balaji says:

    Hi,I am new to SFDC.Will the Videos in Salesforce Website help me understand it more?

  17. Sid says:

    To take some Mock – Up Quizes on SFDC Certifications, Visit

  18. Omprakash says:


    Can anybody let me know what difference does it make from taking Exam from home & Test centers?


  19. Wendy says:

    I am new to SF and am trying to learn as much as I can through videos and the SF help site. I cannot find the ADM 100 class within SF at all. Is it a course offered elsewhere? Please tell me where to go to find it. Thank you so much. Wendy

  20. Rohit says:


    I am planning for SFDC AMD201 certification. Can anyone help me to know till what extend its beneficial? And what is the further use of it.

  21. sierra says:

    thanks for sharing all these great links and resources! going to sit in late august. I am not doing the four day training, but I have been using it for the past four years, and over the last year using it as the only person in the company with deep insight.

  22. Ram says:

    I started to learn SF just now so I need to know about Exam details & Interviwe point of view questions and answer.
    Can u guide me.Thanks


  23. Raymond says:


    I want to prepare myself for the Salesforce Administrator Certification.
    How can i prepare myself. I need videos / study guides / classes.
    Many thanks,

  24. Neeha says:


    I have experience in Software testing for four years. Then, I did Masters in Information Systems and worked as a Business Analyst (the job required both Information Systems and the testing background). I am currently looking for a new job. Can anybody let me know if Salesforce certification will be a new skill to my resume.

    Thanks in advance,

  25. vinay says:

    i want to know the fees for ceritication, can u please help me out

    • Hayata says:

      Vinay, looks like Salesforce has a brand new Certification website. See In general, the certifications exams cost $200 US each. Advanced Developer is the exception at $400. You may want to take several exams depending on what your needs are. As a consultant, I have taken all but two of the exams for a total cost of $800. In addition there is a yearly maintenance fee which will vary from $100 to $200 depending on the situation. (Please note that fees are subject to change at any time.)

  26. Rukmanipriya Alaadu says:

    Hi Hayata, I have worked in Salesfore for a while and planning to do Administrator Certification. Luckily, I happened to watch your video on Certification and found it really useful. Thank you very much!!


  27. saikrishna says:

    Hi my name is Saikrishna,am solution consultant in IT firm.Am planning to prepare for salesforce exam for sales.Can you help out how to prepare for this exam.

  28. ishan says:

    i want to know how to clear my certification admin 201. i m new . and whats will i set my stategy to clear my certification point of view.
    admin :-
    which course i will follow:-
    admin essential:- (( ))
    admin201 new course ( unlimited edition/ enterprise edition )
    admin 202 new course ( professional edition )
    which one to follow , to learn a salesforce admin part for now.

    where i get the certification question and answer banks. of salesforce admin

    plz help me to what to study which course to follow 201/202.
    and trips for certification also..

    pls mail me..
    guide me please.

  29. Pingback: How to become Saleforce dot com (SFDC) Administrator Certified, my self-study plan of attack | Marketing Automation Hacker

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