How to Study for the Salesforce Admin Exam

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How to Study for the Salesforce Admin Exam


I decided to re-write this from a post last year with new updates and a focus on “How to Study for the Salesforce Admin Exam”.  One of the biggest reasons for this re-write was the Salesforce admin exam is the most difficult and most sought after by people looking to sharpen their Salesforce technical skill-set OR enter the Salesforce space. In addition,  the success of the “How to Study for the Salesforce Service Cloud Consultant Exam” inspired me to do a re-write on how best to study for this particular exam. Keep in mind, you will not get answers for the test here, but rather a strategic, thought out approach to help you prepare, practice and pass the Salesforce Admin 201 exam. A few things about the exam in general and what it can do for you; if you are looking for a career or job in the Salesforce eco-system, this is the first and most critical exam certification to secure. Once you add this on your LinkedIn profile, prepare for recruiters to “connect” with you in good ways, if you know what I mean. Lastly, this exam is NOT easy, you have to study for it and want it, but once you pass this  one, the Dev 401 exam will be easy for you as 70% *(my personal estimate only) of the material from the Admin 201 exam is on the Dev 401 exam.

For this blog, I will break it down into three simple sections to help you strategically study for the Salesforce admin exam.

Onsite/Online Training/YouTube

How to Study for the Salesforce Admin Exam

As you begin your journey of how to study for the Salesforce admin exam, consider the resources you have already at your disposal. Some of you may be employed at companies who have access to Salesforce premier training or will foot the bill for you to attend a class.  If you have the budget and/or your company can pay for the course, definitely the onsite 5 day class for administrator certification is the way to go (to find a class near you, click here). With this class you receive hands on training, the ability to ask questions and really get to the basics of administration. If you pay for this on your own, the price is about $4250 (don’t quote me), however if you are a US Veteran, there are ways to get into these classes for free. If you cannot afford or do not wish to attend the class, fear not, there are other options to pass your admin 201 course, but the path is a bit harder and requires more dedication. If you are not taking an ‘in-person’ class you must have access to the online training which Salesforce provides through it Premier Training offering.  You can walk through the same training you will receive in the ‘in-person’ class when you go through the online course.  Keep in mind, you must be disciplined and do all the admin exercises step by step. When you are doing the Salesforce admin exercises, you are set up and administer the environment of a fictional company called “AW Computing”. If you try to go through the online course too quickly and don’t grasp the fundamentals of the subject, you will fail the test.  There are a variety of other online premier training classes you need to take (listed below at end of blog post) and you should view and understand all of these. If for some reason, you have decided to forgo the onsite training AND do not have access to premier training through SFDC, the road to your official certification becomes a bit more difficult. While you can still take the test and study other methods (see other methods below), your chances of passing the first time are really difficult.

After you have exhausted your online training options through the official paid training (online/offline), there are several good resources online for free that focus on the essentials of Salesforce and the platform. The Salesforce YouTube channel offers some key video’s that can sharpen your admin skills.  Here are some great study links entitled “Who See’s What”


Online Flash Cards / Sample Tests

A second strategy of how to study for the Salesforce admin exam is to take advantage of the online sample tests and flash cards generally available on the internet.  I do want to stress this area of study can be littered with traps, so be careful. Online, there are copious amounts of sample tests and sites that claim to be helpful in preparing for the Salesforce admin exam. While I certainly did not review every one of them out there, I did look at three and will give you my take on each.  You will not pass the exam if you just study old test questions, but rather this method of study should only augment what you already know from other training and/or experience within the platform.

  • – by far this one had the most info and although alot of the content is relevant and good, there were enough flash cards that were just wrong. The answers were either not checked or someone accidentally put them in wrong. Quickly after using this site, I began to to think, “Can I trust these answers” and once I got there, I stopped using this site. So use with caution; it isn’t a site I could recommend.
  • SITE Taken Down – DO NOT USE: – Now this one was not as jazzy of a site as, but the format and concept are great. This site allows you to log in, take sample tests that are short or long in length and you can see over time, how your are fairing on these sample test. I found the answers to be mostly correct in that there were no glaring examples of wrong answers such as Overall, a great site, but the tests you take are the same, so after a few iterations, you are essentially learning the answers to the same questions over and over again.
  •  This site was by far the best for what I needed. You should know what to search for on the site and there are lots of samples of test questions within the site. Once you find a few good tests, the format, correctness and ease of use were the best. I used this site for all three of my certifications and would recommend this to anyone. I knew it was a good site, when a few employees I met in San Francisco even recommended it.
  • NEW – Also check out this post on How to Pass the Salesforce Admin Exam Using Trailhead. This post gives you insights into using Trailhead to pass the Salesforce certification exam.


Exam Strategy

In conclusion as we consider how to study for the Salesforce admin exam, there is absolutely no sure fire quick method to pass the exam, however having a good exam strategy will be critical to you passing. Here area  a few critical facts about the exam you should be aware of:

  • The exam consist of 60 multiple choice questions
  • Review the study guide Salesforce publishes for each exam
  • Some questions have one answer or multiple answers
  • You only have to get 39 questions correct. Keep this in mind, this puts you at 65% for passing
  • You have 90 minutes to complete the test
  • You have the option to do this from home, but there is alot of camera set up and security you need to manage. You should focus on the test and not your environment and therefore my recommendation is to go to a testing center
  • All testing centers and registrations are handled through Webassessor
  • You are allowed two pencils and 2 blank sheets of paper (given to you be testing center)

To me, one of the more critical elements of taking the exam is to review each question individually and remember you only need 39 correct questions to pass exam.  When you begin the exam, the first thing you should do it take the scratch piece of paper and write down in three columns 1-20, 21-40 &  41-60 as below.

How to Study for the Salesforce Admin Exam

Ok, so  you are ready to actually take the test. Remember, there will be questions you know, some you are not quite sure and occasionally, some questions you have NO idea what the answer is. Don’t worry about the questions that are difficult and you have no idea of the answer. Simply “Mark for Review” on the test screen and come back later at another time.  Next, as you take the exam, mark (on your scratch paper) through the number the exam questions you know you got right (see pic below) and circle the exam question number for the question you wish to come back to and are “maybes”.  Lastly, just leave the super hard questions alone and don’t mark through them. The strategy here is simple; when you get through with your first round of answering questions (remember you have 90 minutes), count up the questions you know that were right and add them up. So for example, lets say you have marked through (you know these) and have a count of 29. With this number, you know you only need 10 more questions to focus on and ensure you confident are correct. Next, focus on your “Maybes”, that are circled and do a time check.Go through a detailed round of the “Maybes” and then re-count the questions that now fall into the “For Sure” category and add to the total you had “for sure” you counted earlier (29). When I took my first Salesforce admin exam, I had 32 questions marked through in which I knew I had right. After my second round of going through my circled questions (“Maybes”), I then had a total of 44 questions I felt really confident I had correct. At this point I was 75 minutes into the test, with 15 minutes left. At that point I knew I was in good shape to pass the exam. I spend the last 15 minutes trying to answer the hard questions, then submitted the exam. You get the results in real time right after you submit, so be sure to take your time and read through each exam question. Below is an example of how I mark my questions when taking the test.

How to Study for the Salesforce Admin Exam

In summary, good luck with your studying and as always let me know if you have any questions through twitter (@hectorperezjr)

Hector Perez Jr


Optional, but critical online classes to take through “SFDC Premier Training” 

Salesforce Mobile 
Setting Up Salesforce CRM Content 
Using Salesforce CRM Content 
Administering Salesforce Knowledge 
Campaign Management 
Products, Price Books and Assets 
Expand Your Practice with ISV Apps from the AppExchange 
Launch Your Own Customer Portal 
Creating Your Salesforce Community 
Using Salesforce for Outlook
Analyze Your Data Your Way with Reports 
Configure Salesforce with Custom Fields 
Customizing Profiles to Align with Your Business Needs 
Getting a Head Start with Chatter 
Managing Users and Troubleshooting Login Issues 
Summarize Your Data with Highlights, Charts, and Dashboards



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  1. Hi, very good and useful this post!! Thanks!!
    I am starting studying… I will schedule the exam next week(s).

    If you have any additional info like examples of questions), please let me know. 🙂

  2. This is such great information! Thank you so much for sharing it. I am in the midst of studying for the exam which is scheduled for April 4th. I took the 5 day class and fingers crossed I will pass on the first try! Thank you again!

    1. Sure thing Lisa! Good luck on your exam next month and let me know if I can help at all.

  3. Hi Hector, thanks for your post! I just passed the ADM 201 exam today with no prior salesforce experience. woo hoo!! Learning through Trailhead helped a lot to structure the studying and motivate because I wanted to pass the challenges in each module and get me some points! I used your strategy of putting down all the test question numbers down on paper, that was awesome. I also used a second sheet of paper to write down all the acronyms and limits (but there were no limit questions) I could remember to make it easier to answer the questions. Memorizing a bunch of info and dumping it on the paper before I activated the test session helped calm nerves down! I wrote down a list of all the questions I could remember, I can remember around half of them so I’ll post it to a site somewhere.

    1. Thank you @carolinelowdisoco:disqus for the kind words! And congrats on passing the exam. Let me know if I can help with anything else on your Salesforce journey.
      Oh and feel free to post your notes here! This is a popular blog post for the Merivis blog.

      1. Thank you! Yes, I’ve been exploring what to do next now that I have my cert and doing lots of informational interviews. Turns out many Salesforce Administrator jobs I’ve found in the DC area want someone with at least 1-3 years of experience and I’ve had an offer fall through because I had none (I guess getting a job from my first job application would have been too easy!). Everyone is advising me to do pro bono work to get experience and so now I’m helping a small non-profit roll out salesforce. Now I find the challenge to be finding a mentor who could be my go to when I need to consult with someone other than the Salesforce Success community.

    2. congrats on passing the certification. u said that u learned from trailhead, trailhead is which is provided by sales force is that u mean. and u said u will post the sample questions did u posted it anywhere can u share the link

      1. uh oh I had a whole list written of half the questions i had on the test and I think I never saved the document before I wiped out my old laptop and bought myself a new laptop! If you can get your hands on the ADM 201 powerpoint slides for the course, that helped me to fill in the gaps of what trailhead didn’t cover and to direct my attention to what else I should cover. Like I said there were no questions about limits so I didn’t need that for the exam. You should know what exactly is in the user profile that you can configure, and what you can configure in page layouts, how to troubleshoot login issues, campaign management, what different dashboard components you can use, what types of charts are good for what purposes, how to use workflow rules, when to use process builder, visualforce, web to lead, sharing rules, and there was a question about salesforce classic lite that i’m sure I got wrong!

    3. Hi Hector, thank you for the great details. This will really help for my exam.
      Hi Caroline, since you recently passed the exam, I would like to speak with you to learn more about exam. Would it be possible if you can please send me your email where can connect to ask questions.

    4. Hey congrats !!
      Can you please post your questions and strategy to prepare for ADM 201 exam. I really need to give this to get a job.
      Please send me to if possible for you.
      Thanks a lot.

      1. My strategy is basically the blog post. I do not have questions to share. Watch out for my blog next week, should help you.

  4. Thanks for the scoring tool. It helped to make me more confident during the test. I could see by question 40 that I had easily passed. It took away a lot of anxiety and I did not second guess my gut answers.

    I would also recommend Certified on Demand. The cost is only $40 and I think the the practice test is the closest I found anywhere to the actual test questions. Training is also broken down into core concepts. Maybe not the best tool to learn on but probably the best to review from.

  5. Thanks to your Exam strategy Hector ,I was able to keep my fear and anxiety under control and clear my exam in first try without any Salesforce prior Knowledge/Experience.

    1. Hey Shirayuki,
      Can you give me some tips please, I have started studying for ADM 201, and completed salesforce trailheads. what to do next?

      1. Hi Rishabh,
        You are going in the right direction.If you have covered all the ADM 201 topics from Trailhead and built your basics.Then next step is to put that into practice .Go to and , these are very good sources.They have bunch of ADM 201 questions where you can practice and evaluate yourself .All the best.

        1. Thanks a lot, Shirayuki,
          I will definitely go through these websites. will let you know about my certificate result 🙂

  6. Hi all, I just decided to change career and planing to start by self studying and taking the salesforce admin exam. Is there anyone who is interested in studying together. Meet up in MD. Or how can i go about it. Any free online videos to watch or materials. The truth is that, i cant afford to pay for any classes or materials.

    1. @ucjoseph:disqus, there is alot of material out on the web to help you study. Have you looked at SalesforceBen or Certified on Demand? Also if you happen to be a military veteran you can get some of the Salesforce training for free.

  7. Hi,
    Just looked at SalesforceBen and Certified on Demand – definitely useful. Can anyone offer feedback on the Simplilearn ADM 201 prep course? I assume the Salesforce prep course is better, but it’s beyond my budget. Thanks,

    1. Thanks for the feedback @danielborgenicht:disqus, I have not heard anything about Simplilearn, but I know Trailhead is starting to become super popular with studying for the exam. And its free and from Salesforce! Stay tuned I am putting together a post on what Trailhead badges to secure to best study for the exam.

      1. Hi, thanks for the reply. I am doing the Trailhead and have earned some badges. Can you kindly indicate if there is a good study guide companion in book/PDF form for the ADM 201? I’m looking for something much more detailed than the Salesforce 3-page study guide. Thanks much for any advice you can offer. Daniel

      2. I have completed Admin beginner and Admin intermediate trailheads.
        Can you guide me further, what all things I need to complete to pass ADm 201 certification.

  8. Hey, you made mention of finding the right flash card sets on quizlet by knowing what to search. What were the search terms you used to find the correct sets? I figure the best way to attack this is use cards, trailhead and read/take copius notes?

    1. @disqus_ovwTlaFHqY:disqus, the best way to search by the following phrases: “Salesforce Admin 201”, “Salesforce Administration” or “ADM 201”. Those all should yield some results.

  9. I am planning career switch to sales-force and looking for Admin certification. As it will be more of a self study and self paid, I am not willing to take any formal classes. What is the best and structured way to do the preparations?

  10. thank you sharing the information. I’m new to Salesforce and planning to get the admin certification. as a starter with online training material, how long do you think it would be enough to prepare for this test? I mean i study really hard. thankyou so much.

    1. Good question and thanks for the comment. If you are doing strictly online training give yourself 5-6 weeks of studying. If you can take the in classroom training (ADM 201), that will help alot!
      Let me know how it goes!

  11. Thanks a lot Hector, very good staff!
    So do you suggest to take the exam face to face and not online, don’t you?
    Do you think they let me write the answer paper in a online examination?

    1. My recommendation @disqus_Xd9EEw42WO:disqus is to take the exam at a testing center. If you take it online at home, you must have a camera set up and you cannot have anything on your desk. If they see it, the test will be stopped and you will not be allowed to finish.

      1. Clear enough Hector!
        I am gonna follow your advice thank you very much 🙂

  12. I’m happy to say I just passed the ADM201, admittedly with a bit of a cram session and method purely based on your advice! The prep site sfdcstudy was such a lifesaver in presenting relevant questions to practice with. I also used your method of penciling down 1-60 and marking off my answers to the questions with my definites, question marks and no ideas. Really helped me control my timing and efforts, especially towards the latter part of the session where I was answering my question areas. Had I not searched for good advice and found your site in the nick of time, I think I would have struggled! Thank you so much for your valuable advice!

    My background is working for 1 year as a SFCD Service Cloud trainer for Customer Service agents globally, so i’d had some exposure to the system from a Service perspective, and gained some knowledge from working with the admins for our organization in terms of correct access, page flows/layouts and permissions but at a tip of the iceberg level in comparison to what needs to be understood and applied to this exam!

    Best wishes to those pursuing the exam – Hector’s advice is gold 🙂


  13. Hi Sir , Myself Vinod from Andhra Pradesh (INDIA)
    I am interested to learn Salesforce Admin and developer , how can i start it , on which way i need to begin .I am expecting some valuable for You Sir.

  14. Hi sir, I am working on .NET technology with 2.4yrs of experience. I would like to start learn with salesforce. I am going to learn on my own , as I cant go for any sessions/classes with the experts.
    I have created a login for me in Trailhead. Gonna start with my best efforts to get the Salesforce certification. Please provide your guidance in getting it. Kindly suggest me @

  15. Great Sale Force Admin study tips! This should make the whole process of learning the course that much quicker. Using the online flash cards is brilliant!