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Passing Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I: step by step guide

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Published by admin
14 November 2016

About the exam

You may have heard about new Salesforce certifications. If you are curious about what is coming, I will break down the details. In 2015 Salesforce launched the new Platform Developer I Certification exam and for the first time knowledge of Apex and Visualforce was a requirement for the entry level developer certification. If you have the experience in developing you can go for this certification. The real experience helps you a lot. The main topics covered are Apex, Visualforce, and Lightning. I haven’t described actual questions which I faced during the exam but the main point is the following: if you really understand each topic you don’t need to exercise in answering questions.

Exam format

The Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I multiple-choice exam has the following characteristics:

  • Content: 60 multiple-choice/multiple-select questions

  • Time allotted to complete the exam: 105 minutes

  • Passing Score: 68%

  • Registration fee: 200 USD; Retake fee: 100 USD

  • References: No hard-copy or online materials may be referenced during the exam

  • Results: Provided immediately after exam submission as on-screen text and by email


Have look at topics in each section and find out which topics you need to study more detailed and which of them you can skip in case you have enough practical experience in this sphere. Put together the timeline for study and book date for an exam.

  • Salesforce Fundamentals(10%)

  1. Describe the considerations when developing in a multi-tenant environment

  2. Describe how the Salesforce platform features map to the MVC pattern

  3. Describe the capabilities of the core CRM objects in the Salesforce schema (This topic is very general and it is all about knowing relation between these objects and their capabilities)

  4. Identify the common scenarios for extending the application’s capabilities using the AppExchange

  5. Given a scenario, identify common use cases for declarative customization (Scenario based question which will focus on test takers ability to identify whether to use formula, roll-up summary field, validation rule, workflow rule, process builder or approval process).

  • Data Modeling and Management(12%)

  1. Given a set of requirements, determine the appropriate data model (Expect scenario based questions and select whether to apply look-up, master-detail or junction relation)

  2. Describe the capabilities of the various relationship types and the implications of each on the record access, user interface (UI), and object-oriented programming (Scenario questions like  display child related list on the parent record, have to manage permissions separately from parent, etc.)

  3. Describe the impact of schema design and modifications on Apex Development

  4. Describe how to visualize and create entity relationships (Schema builder)

  5. Describe the options for and considerations when importing and exporting data into development environments (Scenario based on question for whether to use data loader or built in import/export tools)

  • Logic and Process Automation(46%)

Logic and process automation covers about 46% of the exam which means about 28 questions you can just expect from this section. You will be spending more time studying this section for sure, so the number of topics here is greater too.

  1. Describe how to programmatically access and utilize the object schema

  2. Describe the capabilities and the use cases for formula fields (Understand when formula gets executed, Formula Data types, Building cross-object formulas). The question around this section might try to trick you between formula, roll-up summary fields, and trigger.

  3. Describe the capabilities and use cases for roll-up summary fields

  4. Describe the capabilities of the declarative process automation features (Very important to know capabilities of process builder, workflow, approval process and visual flow)

  5. Describe when to use declarative Automation features vs. Apex classes and triggers

  6. Describe how to declare variables and constants in Apex and how to assign values using expressions (Go through Apex workbook topics from Data Types and Variables till Assignment Statements)

  7. Describe the primitive and complex Apex data types and when to use them

  8. Describe how to use and apply Apex control flow statements (Be clear on when to use inline SOQL query in for loop and when not to use)

  9. Describe how to write and when to use Apex classes and interfaces (Understand how inner classes can be defined, invoked from outer class, what they can refer inside their body and type of access modifier they can have)

  10. Describe how to use basic SOSL, SOQL, and DML statements(Make sure you clearly understand difference when to use Database class DML statement vs. standard DML)

  11. Describe the basic patterns used in triggers and classes to process data efficiently (If you just remember to bulkify, not to use DML, SOQL within the loop and inline SOQL query is enough for this topic)

  12. Describe when to use and how to write triggers

  13. Describe the implications of governor limits on Apex transactions (The question will be scenario based and from the code sample you will have to figure out whether the whole transaction gets committed or only partial or nothing. Count through number of times any DML or SOQL being executed and number of records being executed correctly)

  14. Describe the relationship between Apex transactions, save execution order, and the potential for recursion and/or cascading ( You must remember execution order by heart and there are definitely one to two questions on it)

  15. Describe how to implement exception handling in Apex (Read carefully the first line of the code: there was no initialization of string and it was being referenced in Apex condition so it would first throw null pointer)

  16. Describe how to write Visualforce controllers

  17. Describe when and how to use standard Visualforce controllers vs. Apex custom controllers and controller extensions

  18. Describe the programmatic techniques to prevent security vulnerabilities in Apex and Visualforce

  19. Describe how Apex impacts the ability to make declarative changes

  • User Interface(10%)

  1. Describe how to display Salesforce data using a Visualforce page (Though this topic is very broad, studying basics should be enough. You can still go through the first few sections in Visualforce developer guide)

  2. Describe the types of the web content that can be incorporated into Visualforce pages (Maps, Charts, flows, PDF renderer and custom content type)

  3. Describe how to incorporate Visualforce pages into applications

  4. Describe the benefits of the Lightning Component framework

  5. Describe the resources that can be contained in a Lightning Component

  • Testing(12%)

  1. Describe the testing framework and requirements for deployment

  2. Describe how to write unit tests for triggers, controllers, and classes (Be clear on Test.startTest() and Test.stopTest() about how governor limit gets reset)

  3. Describe when and how to use various sources of test data (Make sure you know how @TestSetup works and how it is executed)

  4. Describe how to execute one or multiple test classes. Describe the differences between invoking Apex in executing anonymous vs. unit test (Unit test executes in a system mode and any changes made to records are not visible out of its test execution context.)

  • Debug and Deployment Tools(10%)

  1. Describe how to monitor and access various types of debug logs (Expect questions like at what log level User Debugs are logged or what is a checkpoint in the developer console. Get walk through the Developer console options for viewing logs like using logs perspective, filtering logs etc. which will be much easier than reading)

  2. Describe the capabilities and security implications of the Developer Console, Workbench, and IDE

  3. Describe the different processes for deploying metadata and business data

  4. Describe how the different environments are used in the development and deployment process 


As preparation for this exam, I recommend a combination of the following:

  1. hands-on experience in building custom applications on the platform using the declarative and programmatic capabilities of Apex code and Visualforce pages;

  2. trailhead modules completion;

  3. and self-study in the areas listed in the Reference links section.

You might already have strong experience with development on Salesforce platform, but you might not have worked in every area certification is looking for. Start with Salesforce Platform Developer I Certification study guide. Go through each section of the study guide to see if there is any specific area you need to study more. If you look at the study guide you will have the recommended training and references.

Passing process

When it comes time to schedule your exam, there are two choices — Onsite proctored or Online proctored.

Onsite Proctored

Testing centers set their own schedules for when Salesforce certification exams are offered, so availability can vary greatly among testing centers. Typically, exam registration is required at least 24-72 hours in advance; however, it is recommended to register one week in advance to ensure your preferred date and the time is available.

To locate the center nearest to you visit

Online Proctored

Online proctored exams are delivered through Kryterion’s Sentinel Secure software. You will be required to download the Sentinel Secure software and create a biometric profile to validate your identity before your scheduled exam time. Additionally, online proctoring requires an external, stand-alone webcam; internal built-in webcams are not accepted.

To ensure a successful attempt of your exam, you must review all requirements for online proctoring before scheduling an exam. For complete instructions on setting up your computer, creating your biometric profile, and launching an exam, please download the appropriate guide for your operating system.

The following are is not permitted during your online proctored exam:

  • Access to personal belongings, material, or devices 

  • External monitors, projector screens, or recording devices 

  • No other individuals allowed in the testing are

  • Eating, drinking, and smoking 

  • Headphones or a headpiece that blocks any portion of the face 

  • Leaving the testing area

  • Disconnecting the camera at any time during the testing session


  • Read the question more than once when its scenario based and understand all options

  • If you get stuck, try to reverse engineer from the answers available and match it back to the flow of code to see which option is the right fit for the given code

  • I recommend you to take notes for later reference. Going through the documentation will waste time if you forget some topics. And if you have some working experience in these topics it’s easy for you to prepare.

  • During the exam, certain questions will leave you confusing with more than one correct answer so read through question more than once before you select answer/s.

What’s Next?

This exam is a prerequisite to the Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II exam. Release exams are published three times a year for each of the Salesforce product releases throughout the year. An annual maintenance fee will be charged when registering for every third release exam, based on when the credential was earned. The maintenance fee includes three release exams and access to the supporting training material.

I hope this will provide you direction to prepare for Salesforce Platform Developer I Certification without going through the pain of searching for topics. Good luck with your exams!

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