Two months ago, I decided I will start preparing to achieve my first Salesforce certification. My choice was naturally the Platform Developer I certificate. In line with the principle, “CTA is the limit,” with the start of learning, I have got on with building a strategy that I could use in the future during the preparation for taking other certifications.

Salesforce certification – three pillars of preparation

The insiders know that when I write about “CTA,” I do not mean some marketing slogan like “call to action.”  In the world of Salesforce, CTA stands for “Certified Technical Architect” – that is how the most difficult and most desired Salesforce certificate is called, considered among developers to be the holy grail.

Speaking of my preparation – after getting to know the subject, I’ve decided to base my education of obtaining a certification on three pillars:

  1. Focus on Force
  2. Trailheads
  3. Question flashcards

Such a solution seemed comprehensive enough. Focus on Force is universally recognized by test takers as the best compendium to prepare for certification. As for Trailheads – the choice was quite obvious. It is the only official platform to learn the system. Most developers begin their Salesforce training with it.

When it comes to the flashcards, I will reveal a secret to outsiders: the internet is full of exam questions, even with answers – typical flashcards. I have decided to use them.

My strategy worked. I passed! For three days, I slapped myself on the back. I was glad, and I was sending screenshots with my results right and left. I felt so proud. I have achieved my goal, learned so much, and there was something I could brag about on my employee performance appraisal. This is the life!

The Salesforce Platform Developer I certification of Krzysztof Gonicki

The Salesforce Platform Developer I certification of Krzysztof Gonicki


I gained the certification – time for reflection

Appetite comes with eating. After a while, I have begun to plan a new challenge, another certification. This time, from a pool of developers’ certificates, I have chosen Platform App Builder – to sharpen my skills in the area of designing apps on the Salesforce platform.

When emotions subsided, and there was the time for reflection, I felt that there had been something bothering me – my learning pillars. Specifically, the third one.

Have I really wanted to build my success by checking exam questions? This is a bit uncomfortable reflection. Maybe I do not want that, but at the same time, I want to attain my goal. It was an available and efficient means for goal achievement. But then, what am I aiming for? It made me wonder. Maybe the problem was in my assumptions. I focused on obtaining the certificate; perhaps it has been the wrong approach? It was bothering me for a few days until finally, I concluded that I must reconsider my thinking within the context of the chosen purpose. I have decided that I will replace thinking of “getting certification” with striving to “deserve getting certification.” Such a subtle difference in the goal definition has made me chose not to do things in the future that I believe are just wrong. I began to look differently at viewing exam questions. This way of learning gets me closer to the goal, and in fact, it is not about achieving it; it is more about overcoming the way to win.

This type of moral enlightenment does not make my life easier. Such a change is like trading in my effort and time for knowledge and experience. Moreover, my decision may be associated with the necessity of taking the exam even more than once. I must face it and accept it.


A broader view of the way to the goal

There are more certifications than ever before, and with each Salesforce release, requirements grow. To pass, you have to possess a lot of knowledge. It is more challenging for organizations to maintain the status of Salesforce Partner and let me remind you that it depends, among many others, on the number of certifications employees have to their credit. We might say that we are dealing with “certification inflation.”

I know, sounds dangerous. Salesforce has to somehow encourage to improving skills and expanding knowledge. I hope that this inflation is being maintained at an appropriate level – it does not entirely devalue the previous achievements of a person with certificates and invites them to continue gaining them.

A factor that may have an impact on an excessive devaluation is learning exam materials by rote, actually. An inflation rate might increase too rapidly, and the system, which I believe to be constructed solidly, might start wobble lightly. Indeed, not everyone has to know that the system is flawed. Either way, my girlfriend will be proud of me, and my parents will congratulate me at Sunday dinner.

Anyway, the best interest of Salesforce and people who work in this technology, is maintaining the level of the certification inflation at an appropriate level, which is the one that brainiacs from San Francisco qualify as relevant.

Besides, probably each of the certificates – except CTA – is passed by answering to exam questions (with information on the number of correct answers). Between exam attempts, questions do not change drastically. To pass, you need about 65%. I do not consider these conditions as too exorbitant. It is enough that you know answers to one-third of questions, and by deduction, you can come up with the right answers for the following one-third; then, a little bit of luck and you guess a few answers from the rest of the exam. Et voilà. You passed! Did you not? Remember that in a few weeks you will take a nearly identical exam.



Eventually, I have decided to reject one of the pillars of my previous (and, unfortunately, a bit sham) success. Terms of passing exams are fair, and so will be my learning. Approaching the App Builder certification, I will rely on two pillars. It may not be enough, and I may not earn the certificate. I am okay with that. However, I am sure that I chose the right way to a great goal. Slowly and consequently, I will follow what is in my interest, and I believe that I will earn much more than just work my fingers to the bone.

P.S. My inspiration for this entry and an encouragement to take Salesforce certifications is the work of David K. Liu. I highly recommend his point of view on the value of certificates and on the idea of learning them by rote.


  • Krzysztof Gonicki
  • Junior Salesforce Developer
  • A developer with a little experience but high ambitions. He establishes himself far-reaching goals, and, on his way, he tries o reach for what is in reach. He has his own direction, looking for the way to the top, though privately, he is a dog person who enjoys little things.

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