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My Thoughts on the New Salesforce Certified Associate Examination

The Newest Salesforce Exam is Out … the Associate Exam! Is it Worth It?

This week saw the launch of the highly awaited entry-level Salesforce exam … the Salesforce Associate credential. This exam was designed for users with 0–6 months experience of the Salesforce of the platform. With the nature of the exam, and what I do in the Salesforce ecosystem, I decided to sit the exam on Tuesday 13 September before I started work. Happily, I can say that I passed this exam on the first attempt and in this post I want to share my brief thoughts on the exam and if it’s worth it.

Let’s begin with a bit of an overview of the exam itself:

An Overview of the Examination

As I mentioned at the very beginning of this post, the Salesforce Associate cert is designed primarily for those just getting into the ecosystem and who have up to 6 months of experience with the platform. For the most part, it is a very basic exam, so if you’ve got a good amount of experience in and around Salesforce, then like a good number of us you should pass it on the first go around. I found this to be the easiest exam I’ve done so far. I would say that is for good reason though, as if I struggled I think one could raise some genuine and serious questions about my skills in the ecosystem. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and I passed it very comfortably for sure.

In terms of the big things you need to, here’s a quick overview of the exam:

  • Questions: 40 multi-choice/multi-select questions
  • Time: 70 minutes
  • Passing Score: 62%
  • Registration Fee: $70
  • Retake Fee: Free
  • Prerequisite: None

There are four sections in the exam, here they are with their weighting:

  1. Salesforce Ecosystem: 32%
  2. Navigation: 28%
  3. Data Model: 25%
  4. Reports and Dashboards: 15%

At the time of writing there isn’t currently a score checked available, that should change pretty quickly though. That being said, you should be able to take your section results, multiple the relevant section by the weighting and then add those final results together to calculate your overall score. I did that in Excel and came up with a passing grade of 84%. 84% for an attempt that took me 20 minutes with no revision isn’t all too bad in my estimation. I think I could get 100% if I had actually revised for the exam.

So now that I’ve given an overview of the exam, what did I think about it?

My Thoughts on the Associate Exam

I’ve got a decent amount of thoughts on this exam, I’ll go over them now in more of an FAQ format. So let’s chat about this Associate cert should we?

Why Did You Take the Exam … Isn’t It a Bit Basic for You?

Before I focus on the exam itself, I want to answer the question of why I even sat it in the first place. So, was the exam basic for someone such as myself who’s been in the ecosystem for half a decade with a good amount of experience and skill in and around Salesforce? Yes, 100 and 10 percent. However, the reason I took the exam wasn’t to get 5x certified, it was to be in a position where I can give an informed response when (and if) I get asked about the exam from people entering the Trailblazer Community. Being transparent here, I feel that the best way to give an informed opinion on something like an exam, is to actually complete and pass that exam. So I sat the exam, knowing full well that it would be basic for me, but I didn’t sit it for me, I sat to give me a means of hopefully helping others in the Ohana.

Did You Find The Exam to be Pitched Correctly?

This for me is not quite the 100% yes that you think it might be. For the most part I think this exam is pitched entirely correctly, however, there is one particular question that stood out to me that gave me a little pause on the relevancy at the targeted experience level. The question I am referring to was one that expected the exam taker to have a knowledge of metadata. While it is a contestable point, part of me isn’t convinced that a newbie should be expected to know and understand metadata in Salesforce. Other than that, I did find the exam to be pitched correctly for the expected and targeted audience of the certification. I think this cert is a really good fit.

Please do note, that a base knowledge of Salesforce’s suite of products would be good to have. I had questions come up that related to both Health and Nonprofit Cloud, so Trailblazers taking the exam should at least be aware of these things.

What About Those Who Aren’t Future Admin’s, Dev’s, etc?

This is where I might say something that is a little controversial, so please be patient with me here. When I sat the exam, I felt that it would be OK for Power/Super Users to take this exam as well as recruiters and managers of Salesforce professionals such as Admins. The reason I felt like this is due to the fact that I think it is beneficial for people in these kinds of roles to have an understanding of the work of the people they support via these roles. For example, if a hiring manager is working to bring someone in to a role that is specifically tied to Salesforce, does it not make sense for them to have at least a very basic understanding of Salesforce? I think so. We see so many roles that get put out there that have unrealistic expectations such as Junior Admins being able to write Apex. Having a base knowledge of the platform is something that could help hiring managers understand what they should and shouldn’t expect of the roles they are going to be hiring for. So in summary, I do feel that this exam can easily act as an entry point for knowledge about Salesforce as a platform, and the ecosystem as a whole.

What About Those Who Advocate for Salesforce?

Finally, let’s wrap up this section by asking if this exam can or should be taken by those who are advocates for Salesforce in one capacity or another. Honestly, I think if you’re in this position then it is completely acceptable to sit this exam. I don’t think you should it sit just to take an exam or to top up your certification count … I’m not a fan of treating certs like Pokemon. We genuinely don’t have to catch them all, we do not need to have all the certs. That being said, if you’re in a position like me and you support a number of new Trailblazers then taking the exam is the best source to provide you with an advised knowledge of the pros and cons of this exam in my book. So if you’re a Trailblazer who supports the community, why not take it?

Closing Remarks

So that’s my very brief thoughts on the exam after taking it. Have you taken it yet? If so, what did you think? Were you like me and thought that the vast majority of it was fine with the odd thing here or there that you didn’t quite agree with? Or did you find yourself being fully on board with everything?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, so let me know in the responses below or in the comments on social media. Let me know what you think of it all.

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Mark Jones

Mark is a Salesforce Consultant at Cloud Galacticos. With over 5 years experience as a Nonprofit Salesforce Admin, Mark is a Trailblazer who loves to give back.