How I Studied for the Sharing & Visibility Designer Exam

On May 30, 2019, I took and passed the Sharing & Visibility Designer Exam – my first Architect certification.


The Sharing and Visibility Designer Exam is one of four certifications that make up the Salesforce Certified Application Architect (CAA) credential of the Architect pyramid. The other certifications that make up a CAA are: Platform App Builder, Platform Developer I and Data Architecture And Management Designer. Once an individual earns both the Certified Application Architect and Certified System Architect, s/he can go in front of the board for the Certified Technical Architect credential — the very top of the Architect pyramid!


Note: Ruth is Salesforce’s newest mascot for Salesforce architects. She was first introduced at TrailheaDX 2019.

From the exam guide…

“The Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer credential is created for architects, analysts, and administrators who want to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities to design secure, scalable security models on the Lightning Platform. A Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer should be able to communicate technical solutions to technical stakeholders and provide a project delivery framework that ensures quality and meets business requirements.”

Here’s examples of concepts you should know to pass the exam:

  • Design a security and sharing model within Salesforce based on complex requirements.

  • Articulate system design considerations, benefits, trade-offs, and recommendations for a security and sharing model.

  • Use best practices and know which standard Salesforce functionality to use when designing to meet complex requirements.

Important information about the exam:

  • This 120 minute exam consists of 60 multiple choice/multi-select questions.
  • Passing score is 68%, or about 40 correctly answered questions.

  • The registration fee is $400 with a retake fee of $200.

1. Review the Concepts in the Sharing and Visibility Designer Exam Guide & Group Objectives by Their Weightings

Here is the exam outline:


In reviewing the exam outline with the category weightings, anticipate approximately these many questions per exam category:

  • Declarative sharing: 64% (~38 questions)
  • Programmatic Sharing: 28% (~17 questions)
  • Performance: 8% (~5 questions)

Doing the math, your best bet is to focus your studies on being solid in the declarative sharing concepts and comfortable in programmatic sharing, more so than the performance concept.

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

I reviewed the exam outline and determined how comfortable I was in each bullet point. For example, in reviewing the Declarative Sharing outline, I was comfortable with a private OWD and sharing rules, classic and platform encryption given the nature of the industry I’m in (Financial Services) as well as access to reports and dashboards and record access via role hierarchy. I needed to learn about territory management, community sharing, and data storage solutions, which I have no or little experience with, so I focused more on those topics.

Since I’m a declarative app builder, I am less familiar with programmatic sharing and performance considerations so I had to learn those new concepts, which comprised of 36% of the exam.

3. Increase Your Knowledge. Hit the Trails, Play in Your Dev Org and Get “Focused.”

I attended the Application Architect bootcamp, which was part of TrailheaDX bootcamp. This covered both Sharing and Visibility Designer and Data Architecture and Management Designer exams taught by CTAs. The bootcamp costs about $2K+, additional to the TrailheaDX conference fee.

If attending the bootcamp is cost prohibitive, I recommend going through the material in the below Trailmix, which includes completing trailhead modules:


Of the content in the Trailmix, read and know Record Access Under the Hood.

For $24, you can purchase the Focus on Force Sharing and Visibility Designer Study Guide, which gives you unlimited access and updates for up to 12 months. Focus on Force does a good job at walking through the key concepts you need to know on the declarative sharing, programmatic sharing and performance concepts. The guide has short videos for each category with business requirements and solutions for each category. I found the study guide quite helpful in introducing the various concepts. The illustrations for the community sharing helped me understand how sharing sets and share groups work.

For another $24, purchase the Focus on Force Sharing and Visibility Designer Practice Exams. This is the best $24 you could spend to prep for this exam. I need practice exams to get me into that test taking mindset. These exams do a really good job of testing the concepts you need to know. You can take exam questions for each specific category or take 2 mock exams or access the pool of mock exam questions.  I recommend investing in the paid exam resources (you are paying the company to keep the material updated and present accurate information) rather than rely on quizlets people put together, which may or may not be correct. If you then base your studying off of potential wrong answers, that can throw you to a loop.

Actual work experience is very helpful but if you do not have that, I recommend playing around with the concepts in a sandbox, where you can, and know the options on the setup screens.

I also referenced content from Ladies Be Architect study groups for Sharing and Visibility Designer Exam.

Gemma Emmett‘s blog post “Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer Exam Tips” was very helpful too.


Lastly, as you work through the concepts, Google is your friend. Use it.

4. Bottom Line, Here’s What You Need to Know…

  • Know the options for OWD and what users can and cannot do with each setting.
  • Understand the different types of sharing rules and who can be assigned to them.
  • Understand standard and custom profiles and when to use profiles versus permission sets.
  • Understand how record access works with role hierarchy.
  • Understand sharing/visibility with account, opportunity and case teams.
  • Understand sharing/visibility using enterprise territory management.
  • Understand manual sharing.
  • Understand the different access grants: implicit, explicit, inherited and group memberships.
  • Understand apex managed sharing and when to use it.
  • Understand what a share table is.
  • Understand what can cause performance issues and methods to use to improve/avoid it (parallel sharing rule calculation, granular locking, deferred sharing maintenance, account data skew).
  • Understand the concepts of with and without sharing in code.
  • Understand what RunAs() is and when to use it, know how to check object and field access in code.
  • Understand how to protect your apex and visualforce applications against security vulnerabilities, such as cross-site scripting.
  • Understand the differences between classic and platform encryption and apex crypto class is and the use cases for each.
  • Understand community sharing, know when to use share sets, share groups or sharing rules.
  • Understand how to share access to reports, dashboards and list views.
  • Understand how to troubleshoot access issues.

5. Game Time!

Read the questions CAREFULLY. I cannot stress that enough, so I am going to repeat it. Read the questions CAREFULLY. Do not jump to conclusions. If you miss a keyword, you can end up answering the questions incorrectly. Sometimes, it helps to read the question a second time.

For questions regarding role hierarchy, I found it helpful to sketch the hierarchy out on paper and then based on your role hierarchy, answer the question about access.

For questions I found that I had no idea or may be stuck on the 3rd of the select 3 answers questions, I select “Mark for Review” to come back to it later. Try and rule out answers that are clearly incorrect. Don’t spend too much time on any given question. You can always come back to it. You have 60 questions to answer.

Go with your gut when answering questions. Try not to start second guessing yourself. You may be changing correct answers to incorrect ones.

Best of luck to you and let me know how you do!

10 thoughts on “How I Studied for the Sharing & Visibility Designer Exam

  1. I have immense respect to bloggers like you, I cant thank enough for the content. Such a valuable blog for the certificate seekers like me.

    This article is priceless for the people like me wanting to prepare for certification and no clue where/how to start preparation.

    Thanks a ton, looking forward to see great content from you.

    Sai Kethu


  2. Hi Jenn,

    Thank you for sharing this information with us.
    Quick question, was the bootcamp worth the 2K investment? In most cases, it is not just the 2K, it is travel and accommodations, time off work, exchange rate, etc. One would think that when all is said and done dollarwise, a bootcamp should put the participants in a position to pass the exam after completion, of course assuming the individual is absorbing the information provided and is able to apply it. I don’t view a bootcamp as a replacement for experience, however, my concern is that it will not cover enough ground to pass the exam.

    I would greatly appreciate it if you could answer/comment on the above (or maybe write a blog?).

    Thanks again for your work.



  3. The bootcamp is taught by CTAs so you have content that is taught plus group exercises and you have the opportunity to ask questions. It depends how much of the topics you know. It can reinforce topics or you can learn new content. For me, the bootcamp covered sharing and visibility (much of which I know because it’s my job, but there were areas of sharing I did not know – such as communities and apex, so it was good to learn) and didn’t have much experience on the data management side. I also did studying for the exams prior to the bootcamp so you’re not attending these cold. There is pre-work in Trailhead you do before attending. I did find it beneficial to attend since there weren’t study content produced (this was before Focus on Force published theirs) so you were studying without many tools outside of Trailhead content.

    Hope this helps.


  4. Thank you for the heads up. I vaguely remember Gemma having an issue with the site a while ago but didn’t know she changed the site address.


  5. hi Jen,

    My name is Thripura and I do have some clarifications on some of the questions that came up on Salesforce Sharing and Visibility Exam yesterday. I am also from the greater Boston area and would like email you my questions. Could you please send me your email?

    Thanks much in advance,


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