Writing the Salesforce Platform App Builder Exam

August 21, 2016/POSTED BY Cathy Westbury/9 Comments

My trip to the testing center to take the Platform App Builder exam started with a bang—literally—when a shiny black Lexus slammed on its brakes, lost control and rolled over after zooming past me at about 70 mph.

The next few seconds were silent except for the creaking of the Lexus as it settled back onto its four wheels, and the screaming within my brain: what if the car had hit me instead of swerving? Shaking that thought aside, I pulled over onto the shoulder and ran the few car lengths to the Lexus to see if I could help; Fortunately the driver was conscious and could speak. Help arrived quickly, and I soon left the scene. I arrived at the testing center on time and—with great difficulty—forced my brain to concentrate on the exam instead of the accident.

The Salesforce Platform App Builder certification was created in 2015 to recognize proficiency in declarative (point-and-click) customizations to the Force.com platform. The exam has 60 multiple-choice questions (many of which require selecting two or three answers), lasts for 90 minutes, and the passing grade is 63%.

I studied for the exam over a period of about two weeks, during evenings and for two full days. A search for the certification name will find many blog posts on how others studied for the exam, along with general tips on writing Salesforce certifications. Two posts that I found especially useful were written by jenwlee and Salesforce Ben.

My exam included questions on the following topics:

• What is the order of execution of Apex triggers?
• What happens when a workflow updates a text field but the new text length exceeds the text field length?
• Many-to-many relationships (junction and two master-detail objects). What happens when one master-detail is turned into a lookup? What happens when one master-detail record is deleted?
• On which types of fields can you create a rollup?
• If a text field is changed to picklist, what do you need to consider?
• Where can you put Visualforce pages on a record?
• What types of charts can be put on a record?
• How can you add a “create new account” button from Chatter?
• List the ways in which the Salesforce1 app can be branded.
• When to use which type of sandbox.
• When can you use an unmanaged package?
• How to use cross-object field updates.
• How to use email in a workflow.
• Using the IMAGE() function in a formula field.

As usual with these exams, some of the answers are intentionally close. Eliminate the obvious wrong answers first, and study the remaining answers carefully. Absolute words such as “never” and “always” are always suspect and you can never go wrong by reviewing them diligently because that can help you eliminate some of the other answers. Sometimes questions later in the exam will provide clues to earlier questions, or even answer them outright.

Ideally you will finish the first run-through of the exam with enough time left to review all of the questions, not just the ones you marked for review. I changed one or two answers on my final review.

What is my most important tip? Plan for there to be a traffic accident along the way, and leave early for the testing center! Instead of starting with a bang like my exam did, it’s better to end with a bang when you see the word “Congratulations” on the screen after you submit your results. Good luck on the exam!


  • August 28, 2016

    Congratulations!! Very glad to know that the accident did not affect you physically and YOU did not let it affect you mentally! Did you use sfdcstudy.org site at all?

    • August 28, 2016

      Munira, thanks for your comments. I’ve never had an accident happen that close to me, and of course it happens on the way to an exam! I did not use that site, but it looks good and I wish I had known about it.

      • August 28, 2016

        Good one Cathy! think you have covered up almost all the important topics. I see you give tests onsite, consider taking it online in the future, you may have to just buy a standalone cam.

        • August 28, 2016

          Thank you for your comment and suggestion Sujai. I don’t trust my internet provider 100%, so I would not want to take a test at home unless I had to! I work better alone in a room at the testing center in any case.

  • August 28, 2016

    Cathy –
    Thanks a lot for this info. Curious, how long have you been an admin before taking this exam? I just got my admin cert in April and am still looking for a full time job, but plan to take the App Builder exam down the road. Congratulation on making it past the accident in one piece and pass the exam!

    • August 28, 2016

      Jen, thank you for your comments. I was working as an independent Salesforce consultant, doing both Admin and App Builder-type duties, for 9 months before taking the App Builder exam. So I had some experience, but still learned a lot while studying. Good luck as you study for the App Builder exam!

  • Han
    November 25, 2016

    Nice article, thank you for sharing. And glad you are ok Cathy.

    I wanted to share this quiz that was provided to me by a co-worker. Here is my collaboration for the people who reads you Cathy.

    This is ProProfs Quiz Maker a cool website for taking quizzes… Here you have the quiz for the Platform App Builder.

    • November 25, 2016

      Thank you Han. I’m happy to say that my subsequent certification exams haven’t been that exciting.

      Those quizzes look very helpful, thank you!

      • Han
        November 28, 2016

        You are welcome Cathy!! 🙂

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