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Salesforce Platform Developer I Certification Guide & Tips

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

The Salesforce Platform Developer I Certification exam is a 60 multiple-choice/multiple-select test, with a passing score of 68%. It covers a broad range of platform, declarative and programmatic topics. There are no official prerequisite certifications. The official Trailhead Exam Guide can be found here.

Who's the Ideal Candidate for Platform Developer I?

The Platform Developer I certification is an essential exam for anyone working with Salesforce. Even though it's crucial for those aiming to become Salesforce Developers, the knowledge gained from preparing for this exam is helpful for all roles, including Administrators, Architects, Business Analysts, Product Owners, and Project Managers. It provides a strong foundation and valuable skills that benefit professionals in various roles within the Salesforce platform.

The PD1 exam guide says that a Salesforce Platform Developer I usually has "one to two years of experience as a developer and at least six months of experience on the Lightning Platform." This experience can be helpful, but it's also possible to take the PD1 exam without a coding background. So, even if you don't have much coding experience, you can still pursue the PD1 certification and succeed with determination and effort.

Is It Right for You? Why Take it?

Regardless of whether you have coding or development experience, it's crucial to know why you want to pursue this certification. If your goal is to become a Salesforce Developer or you are already one, this certification is the right path for you. Here, when I say "platform developer," I am specifically referring to someone who writes code, not just anyone working on a Salesforce org.

Here's the important thing to understand: passing this certification doesn't mean you're an expert coder. It only shows that you have a good understanding of the code framework and declarative features. The certification covers all the essential aspects of the Salesforce platform, making it valuable for everyone in the Salesforce ecosystem, regardless of their role. If you're new to coding, this certification is an excellent starting point as it provides a well-rounded knowledge base of the platform's topics for you to study.

Key Topics

Now that you've determined if this exam is suitable for you, and you have the recommended prerequisite certifications and experience, and you're clear about your goals and motivations, it's time to get started!

First, review the exam guide which you can find here. Don't be discouraged by the "Experience" section; you can gain the necessary experience and exposure to these topics through your studies. As of writing this guide, the exam covers five main areas. Let's go through each section and provide helpful tips and resources for your preparation.

Developer Fundamentals: 23%

1. Understand Multi-Tenant Architecture. Check out Understand the Salesforce Architecture on Trailhead.

2. Know the design frameworks of MVC and Lightning Components. You can find a good overview of MVC here from Shrey Sharma and an overview of the Lightning Component Framework here.

3. Know the data model options, examples, and limitations. If you don’t have a lot of data model design experience then hit the Trails and gain exposure to different scenarios and why they were built that way. Check out Data Modeling on Trailhead and DFW Developer User Group – Dev Up Session 1 Objects and Relationships.

Process Automation & Logic: 30%

1. Make sure you are familiar with declarative process automation. If you have already completed the Platform App Builder certification, this should be a quick review for you. It's essential to know how to use both declarative automation and Apex together when needed. To validate your knowledge, you can take a look at the Process Automation Specialist Superbadge on Trailhead.

2. Start with the basics of Apex. Understanding variables, constants, methods and classes is your first step. Salesforce Apex Tutorial for Beginners by Edureka is helpful.

a. You will also find a lot of resources on Trailhead. Search “Developer Beginner” and also keyword “Apex”. Start with the Developer Beginner Trail and Object-Oriented Programming for Admins.

3. Make sure you understand the fundamental parts of a trigger. Know what each of these parts is, where they are used, and their functions. Also, grasp the correct structure of a trigger and the best ways to use them. While studying, you will come across examples of best practices. However, it's essential to gain more exposure to these best practices through blog articles and participating in virtual or in-person developer groups. This will help you become more proficient in trigger development.

a. During the exam, you will need to review short pieces of code and predict their results. The answer could be an error message or a specific outcome, like a number. These code snippets are not too complicated, but they test your understanding of basic Apex structures. However, they can be tricky because even a tiny change in the code, like just one character, can completely alter the result. So, pay close attention to every detail while analyzing the code snippets.

b. Here is a complete guide with real time scenarios on apex triggers. Another great resources to consider is Trailhead Apex Triggers.

4. To become more proficient with SOSL, SOQL, and DML, try to practice using them in real situations. Think about how they can be useful in your current Salesforce setup. Working with objects, data, and use cases that you are familiar with will make it easier to grasp these concepts. In addition to the "SOQL for Admins" module on Trailhead, you can find numerous recorded webinars and blog articles that go into detail about these topics.

5. To become familiar with Apex testing, unit tests, and code coverage, it's essential to start by understanding why we need unit tests and code coverage, as well as the basics of Apex testing. Take it step by step and begin with the fundamentals. Once you have a good grasp of the concepts, try writing a simple unit test to practice what you've learned. You can find helpful resources like "Unit Testing on the Lightning Platform" on Trailhead to guide you through the process. Take your time to digest the information and practice to build your skills in Apex testing.

6. Remember the order of operation and make an effort to memorize it. Be cautious and ensure you are using the most current information about the Order of Operation. The Apex Developer guide is the best source for up-to-date details. Although you might come across unofficial graphical representations through a Google search, they may not be reliable and might be outdated. Stick to the official documentation for accurate and current information.

7. Platform Events / Publish & Subscribe. Start with Platform Events Basics on Trailhead.

8. It's crucial to know about Security Vulnerabilities and how to avoid them. This involves understanding common vulnerabilities like cross-site scripting and SOQL injection and being able to identify them in different situations. To learn more, you can explore the "Security Guidelines for Apex and Visualforce Development" in Salesforce Help and "Security Tips for Apex and Visualforce Development" in the Apex Developer Guide. Both resources offer examples to help you recognize these vulnerabilities in code. By understanding and preventing security issues, you can ensure that your applications are safe and secure.

User Interface: 25%

1. To succeed in your Salesforce journey, it's important to grasp the fundamentals of Visualforce. Focus on understanding controllers and extensions, and try practicing with real examples. Talking to a mentor can be very helpful to gain insights into when to use Visualforce and when to choose other options. To enhance your knowledge, you can explore useful Trailhead modules like "Visualforce Basics", "Visualforce & Lightning Experience", and "Quick Start: Visualforce". These resources will aid you in building a solid foundation in Visualforce development.

2. Explore Lightning Components, including both Lightning Web Components (LWC) and Aura Components. If you're new to coding, this part might feel a bit overwhelming, but don't worry, you won't be asked to write a component during the exam. However, you should understand how to use and work with the Lightning Components framework. Even though LWC is more popular now, there are still questions about Aura Components in the exam. It's beneficial to talk to a mentor or a fellow developer for guidance if you encounter any unclear areas. They can help you better understand this topic and clarify any doubts you may have.

3. Start here with a presentation by Adam Olshansky - LWC 101, then check out Trailhead.

4. Aura Components Basics, Lightning Web Component Basics.

6. Study with the Platform Developer I Certification Prep: User Interface module in Trailhead.

Testing, Debugging, and Deployment: 22%

1. Take a look at all the Developer tools available in Salesforce. Try using different environments and tools to get hands-on experience and learn when to use each one. Some important tools to explore are Salesforce DX, Salesforce CLI, and Dev Console. You can find helpful resources like "Command-Line Interface" and "Developer Console Basics" on Trailhead to get started. Additionally, for debugging, testing, and deploying Apex, the Apex Developer Guide has useful information that covers this topic nicely. By familiarizing yourself with these tools, you'll become more proficient in Salesforce development.

2. Understand Apex Testing and Code Coverage. Check out Apex Testing in Trailhead and review Testing Best Practices and Code Coverage Best Practices from the Salesforce Apex Developer Guide.

Read the documentation!

Try to read all of the Salesforce documentation. In doing so, you will recognize many of the questions within the documentation. These guides are more accessible and understandable than you might expect.


Starting on your Platform Developer I path can feel overwhelming with so many topics to cover. But don't worry, you can create a plan to tackle them one by one. Consider using a study guide like Focus on Force, which breaks down the topics for you. Practice tests are also available for purchase to check your knowledge. If you find any topics confusing or frustrating, don't hesitate to ask for help from a developer mentor or the Trailblazer Community.

Once you've studied the topics, don't be afraid to schedule your exam. Taking the exam, even if you don't pass on the first try, will help you become familiar with the test format and show you areas that need more study time. Remember, you can do this! Good luck on your Platform Developer I journey!



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