How I Studied for the Salesforce Platform App Builder Certification Exam

I took my Platform App Builder and the Advanced Administrator Exams back-to-back on Saturday, January 16 and passed both! Yes!


This post covers how I studied for the Platform App Builder exam and the resources I used. I also write a post to cover how I studied for the Advanced Administrator exam, you can read more about it here.

In June 2015, Salesforce University introduced the three new certifications: Salesforce Platform App Builder, Platform Developer I and Platform Developer II certifications, splitting the Developer track into declarative (clicks, no code) certification and 2 programmatic certifications. The Salesforce Platform App Builder certification is equivalent to the certified Force.com Developer credential.


The Platform App Builder exam is a 90-minute exam of 60 single or multi-select questions. The passing score is 63%, or 38 correctly answered questions.


1. Review the Concepts in the Platform App Builder Study Guide & Group Objectives by Their Weightings

First, I reviewed the Platform App Builder Exam outline. Split the list of objectives into two categories: one with the heaviest weightings and the second with weightings under 10%.

I decided to focus most of my study efforts on the first category (heaviest weightings). If you answer all the questions correctly in this first set of objectives, then you will pass the exam.

  • Business Logic and Process Automation (27%) [17 questions]
  • Data Modeling and Management (20%) [12 questions]
  • User Interface (14%) [9 questions]
  • Security (10%) [6 questions]

I did not want to assume that I would get all the questions correct in the category below so I wanted to make sure I had some understanding of the lower weighted objectives. But since I would only be asked 2-4 questions on each objective below, I didn’t spend a lot of time to know the ins and outs of each concept.

  • App Deployment (8%) [5 questions]
  • Salesforce Fundamentals (8%) [5 questions]
  • Reporting (5%) [3 questions]
  • Mobile (5%) [3 questions]
  • Social (3%) [2 questions]

2. Perform a Self Assessment on the Objectives and ID Areas Needing Knowledge Improvement

Once I reviewed the objectives above, I did a self assessment of where I thought I stood against each objective. For areas where I identified as strong areas, such as security and business logic and process automation, I then identified concepts under those objectives that I wasn’t as strong in.

Let’s use business logic and process as the example.I identified that formula fields, roll-up summary fields and ramifications of field updates/potential recursion as areas where I need to boost my knowledge.


3. Increase Your Knowledge. Hit the Trails….

Now that you’ve identified the areas you need to improve your knowledge in, it’s time to go and learn the concepts.

Review the recommended training in the Platform App Builder Study Guide.

If you have Premier Support, you have access to free online training via Help & Training and can take the self paced online training:

  • Building Applications with Force.com Part 1
  • Building Applications with Force.com Part 2
  • Extend Reporting Modules within Administration Essentials for Experienced Admins

For those newer to the Salesforce platform, you may want to take the instructor-led Building Applications with Force.com (DEV 401) course. I find it easier to learn in a real classroom setting where you can ask questions of the teacher. They also will focus on the areas of the exam. Do Note: This course will run you or your company, $4,250.

If you are a seasoned Salesforce system administrator or developer, I would not recommend the instructor-led Dev 401 class. Save the money. If you do have premier support, go to the self paced Force.com Part 1 and Part 2 trainings and review the sections that you are not as familiar with.

I took the above three online training courses above and found only certain portions of the Force.com training helpful. This is because I was already familiar with most of the concepts from I working in Salesforce for 3 years now.

Don’t have Premier Support? No fear. There are still plenty of resources out there.

Trailhead.jpg Trailhead is Salesforce’s free online learning tool. It is THE BOMB. You have challenges and questions at the end of each unit to practice the concepts.
While I’ve completed all the modules already, I did go back through some of the modules as refreshers.
  • Google is your friend. Google the topic, such as “formula fields in Salesforce”. I reviewed the results that are produced by Salesforce Docs team (i.e. URLs containing salesforce.com). I found the Help & Training docs most helpful. If you’re a visual person and need to see how things are configured, there are plenty of YouTube videos out there. I would view the ones that have a more recent published date as those would cover Salesforce’s most recent functionality in that area.


As I take the trainings or learn more about various concepts, I will take notes for each concept, with particular attention to feature limitations, things to consider and be aware of.

4. Grab a Personal Developer Org and Practice Those Concepts

After I’ve learned the concepts, I find I retain information better if I’ve practiced it versus truly relying on pure memorization. I’d suggest going into Salesforce setup and familiarizing yourself with the configuration screens and the options available.

I’ve found a few exam questions that I would’ve been able to answer if I remembered the configuration options, especially for areas I’ve not used.  

If you don’t have one already, get a free personal developer edition org. Use it to practice the concepts you’ve learned. Practice concepts via the Trailhead challenges.


5. Familiarize Yourself Mock Exam Questions

At this point, I’ve done a lot of studying. I think I know the concepts. Let’s out the knowledge to the test with mock exam questions.

I don’t know about you, perhaps, this is just personal preference, but the 5 mock exam questions provided in the study guide aren’t enough for me. I need MOAR! I need to get a better sense of the type of questions I will be asked and how I would potentially do on the exam.

I know some people rely on flash cards on sites like quizzlet, but I found that I can’t always rely on those being correct or to be updated over time.

Here are good resources for mock exams. I’ve found them to be accurate. When in doubt of the answer, check it against Salesforce Help & Training.

  • Mock Platform App Builder quizzes and section quizzes: http://www.sfdcstudy.org/platform-app-builder-quizzes/. I liked going through the section quizzes to see how I fared on each topic and if I didn’t score very high 80% or higher, that is an indicator to me that there is still more learning work to be done in that specific area. Review the incorrect answers and understand why the answer was incorrect. Go back to Step 3, rinse and repeat.
  • Paid practice exam questions and study guide: http://focusonforce.com/platform-app-builder-certification-practice-exams/. For $12, I had access to 5 mock exams as well as mock exam questions by the various topics. Same approach, if I scored low in an area, I put the learning cap back on. This site also offers a Platform App Builder study guide for $19. While I had not purchased the study guide myself, I’ve recently been given the opportunity to review it and would say the content is good and like the visuals.

6. Daily Routine: Take Mock Exams and Study Notes

I continued to review my notes and took a mock exam or two every day. Once I consistently scored 80% or higher (I know the passing score is 63%. I rather score higher knowing that the questions on the exams will be different and I may not score as high.), I felt I was ready to take the exam.

It’s Show Time, Moment of Truth: Exam Day

Here’s how I tackled the Platform App Builder exam.

  • Read each question slowly. Read it twice if you need to. Look out for keywords like EXCEPT, TRUE, FALSE and for multi-select answers, pay attention to the number of correct answer items.
  • In some cases, take notes on the scrap paper. I broke down some of the security or data modelling questions by the various requirements and how I would solution it. Example: Requirement X = OWD to private, Requirement Y = Grant Access Via Hierarchy, Requirement Z = Permission set. Then read through the answers and select the one that matches your solution.
  • Read through each answer slowly, carefully and twice, if you need to. There may be a very minor difference between some of the answers so if you skim the answer quickly, you may accidentally select the wrong one.
    • Select the answer if you are confident is correct.
    • Continue to read through the other answers.
    • Rule out the ones that are obviously or logically not the answer.
    • Not sure? Read through the remaining possible correct answers and make your best guess between the remaining options.
    • If you find you are spending too long on the one question, mark the question as “Review” and come back to it after you’ve completed the 60 questions.
    • Mark the question where you are not 100% confident as “Review”. Continue through the rest of the questions.
  • Be mindful of the 90 minute time allocation. The timer will appear in the upper left hand corner of the screen as you go through the exam.
  • Once you’ve gotten through the 60 questions, select Review Exam. This will bring you to a screen of all 60 questions and answers. Anything you marked for review has an asterisk in front of it.
    • Look at the total number of questions marked for review. Assuming these answers are incorrect and the ones you thought you answered correctly are accurate, you can guessimate your score. Hopefully, your guesstimate score is well over 63%. You will need to assume that you may have gotten a certain percentage for your “correct” answers incorrect, so factor that into your guesstimate score.
    • (Depending on how much time you have left…) I reviewed each question I marked for review. See if the answer I selected previously still holds. Most of the time, what you selected the first time, is what you should go with and is correct. I refrained from changing the answer unless I had a strong compelling rationale to.
    • If I am more confident in my answer, I would unmark the question for review and recalculate my guesstimated score.
  • At some point, you need to come to the conclusion that you’ve done all you can and looking at those questions marked for review is no longer productive. It’s time to click on the “Submit Exam” button.


I wish you the best of luck on your exam!


Feel free to comment and add resources that helped you out.

86 thoughts on “How I Studied for the Salesforce Platform App Builder Certification Exam

  1. Hi Jeniffer,

    Thanks for your post could you please email me the 5 mock question papers you were talking about in your blog that will be very helpful.

    Thanks & Regards,


  2. ok thanks for the info.
    Do they give access straight away hope I’m not late as my exam is next week


  3. Hi Jen,
    Would you say that the mock tests from FocusOnForce were of a great help? I have registered for it and am going through the Qs. But dont know if its gonna help. Planning for the exam this weekend.


  4. Yes. Most certainly. If I didn’t find them helpful in helping me pass the exam with the other things I listed on this blog, I would not have listed it as a resource. Best of luck to you, Pat!


  5. Was questions mostly on Standard Objects ?
    If yes then how to prepare for them, As there is very less about Standard Objects in Fundamentals of Salesforce book and other resources.


  6. I failed the exam when I took it for the first time and will retake it next month now. I will follow this guide of yours.
    And I agree that focusonforce.com has a pretty good question set. It helped me in my Admin exam as well.


  7. Hi Jeniffer,

    Thanks for the post. It is really helpful to me as I am preparing for app builder certification.
    I have never used salesforce professionally but I am little bit familiar with salesforce development environment.

    I am planning to give this exam after 2 weeks.


  8. I took 5 practice exams on mock tests from FocusOnForce witth the passed rate > 95%. However, I still failed the exam


  9. Hi Jenwlee

    I’m really confused of cross object field update when it talks about relationhip accroding to custom to standard relation ship does not exist all


    Custom Object to Standard Object
    Cross-object field updates are supported for custom objects that are children of certain standard objects in a master-detail relationship. The standard objects which support cross-object field updates from custom objects are:

    I have exam on Monday.
    Can you please please explain.
    Your time is much appreciated.


  10. The mock exams are just that, mock questions. They are meant to prepare you for the kinds of questions you will be asked. It’s not meant to be the exact exam questions. I would say focus on the areas that tripped you up during the exam and try again.


  11. Hi. I don’t check comments regularly so just seeing this now. I’m not sure I understand where your confusion lies with the custom object to standard object cross-object field updates. Can you please elaborate so I can try and help explain?


  12. Hi

    Even i got the FocusOnForceexam they were quite new nice good concepts clearing questions.
    I did both topic and exams passed with good score.
    But have failed appbuilder twice now. I’m really frustated as i dont know where i stand how much gap should i give before next one.
    I feel quite demotivated as had put lots of time and effort.
    I feel shattered.
    Please advise.
    funny thing was there was just one question that was repeated from the last one.
    that shows they have a huge database.


  13. Sorry to hear. Don’t get demotivated as it won’t help matters. Where do you think you’re falling short? Are there questions or concepts that you are seeing on the exam that you don’t know the answers to or unsure of?


  14. I don’t think you get partial credit for a multiple choice answer. You should reach out to @SalesforceU for confirmation though.


  15. Hi,

    I have 3 years of exp but now I want to move salesforce platform. I m thinking to take certification so can you please tell me, from App Builder and Platform 1 which will be better to get job sooner.

    Thanks in advance.



  16. I don’t think one cert over the other would get you a job sooner. Getting a job is really based on your work experience and whether you fulfill the job requirements they are looking for. Having a cert is definitely an added plus. You should think about it in terms of what you ultimately want to do. Platform App Builder is understanding when to use declarative versus going custom but it does not involve any coding. If you want to go the developer route, then you should go for the Platform Developer certifications, but you still need to know how to implement declarative solutions as well. The guiding principle should be use out of the box Salesforce to get the benefits of the platform over going custom. However, there are times where custom is the best way to go. Good luck!


  17. Is there any subtraction from wrong answers or should we answer to all questions even if we have no clue in one or two ?


  18. I’d suggest you reach out to Salesforce University with this question on how they score the example. If it’s multiple choice, it’s either right or wrong.


  19. Hi Jen,

    Thanks for your wonderful post, it’s really helpful !!

    Yesterday I cleared my Platform app builder… 🙂


  20. Thank you very much. Your site is very thorough. I have passed App Builder exam.
    For everyone, One think I can point out here, App Builder is much more in-depth & complicated than Dev-401. There is no shortcut to pass App Builder, you need to prepare hard & practice on a sandbox.


  21. Hi,
    I was totally relying on the questions in sfdcstudy.org. Is there any other reliable source for questions and answers ?


  22. Hi Jen, thanks for your guide is very helpfull. I want to ask you if you found any questions about lead conversions, accounts, opportunities, case assignment and everything is related to the crm core. Have you got any link that provide a guide for that? I didn’t find these topics in the study guide provided by salesforce


  23. Sorry, I took the exam in January and do not recall any of the questions on the exam. You will just need to study based on topic weightings. That would be my advice.


  24. I dont have experience in salesforce development as such but I have 10+ years exp in IT mainly in DB and Data Architecture, so my question is how long will it take for me to clear the app builder developer certification if I study the material and guideline that you provided above.


  25. Hi , Just wanted to know for beginner in salesforce , how long will it take to prepare for app builder -1 certification ?


  26. Honestly, it is hard for me to tell you. I suggest you take the mock exams and see how you do. You do need to know how to solve use cases in Salesforce. Platform App Builder is not a developer focused certification, it’s focused on point and click configuration but know when to solution using custom code but there is not custom development on the exam.


  27. Hello, if you need to take both the Admin 211 and the App Builder which one would you suggest taking first?


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