Whether you’re an experienced Pardot admin or relatively new to the Pardot platform, passing the Salesforce Pardot Specialist Certification exam is a great way to demonstrate your skills and expertise.
In this article, I share the five steps I took to pass the Pardot Specialist Certification exam – reviewing the exam resources, studying, taking practice exams, harnessing key test-taking strategies, and preparing to meet the exam requirements. In each step, you’ll find tips and strategies plus links to guide you through this process.
Ready to dive in? Let’s do this.
Step 1: Review the Pardot Specialist Exam Guide and Resources
Salesforce provides some amazing resources that outline everything you need to know to pass the Pardot Specialist Certification exam.
Start by reviewing the Salesforce Certified Account Engagement Specialist exam guide. This will answer all of your administrative questions about the exam like:
- “How is the exam administered?”
- “How many questions are there?”
- “What score do I need to pass?”
Then, check out the exam outline to see a high-level overview of the exam topics. I recommend reviewing this guide – either by printing out a hard copy or copy-pasting into a separate doc. Then you can highlight any areas where you know you’ll need to focus more of your studying time. It’s ok to highlight most or all of the topics in this list! Your objective here is to understand the scope of what you need to learn so you can use your time wisely.
Step 2: Start Studying
Once you’ve reviewed the exam outline, head over to the Account Engagement Specialist Credential Trailmix. There is a LOT of content here – it’s estimated to take over 14 hours to complete! This just got real. Let’s take a deep breath and tackle this strategically to make the best use of our time and attention.
Determine what worked for you in the past
Before you dive into studying, think back to your experiences in school. What worked when you were studying for an exam?
When I was in college, my favorite approach was to type up a master document containing my notes from lectures, textbook reading, and labs. A few days before the exam, I’d print out that document and read through it, writing out in pencil or pen anything that didn’t feel like it was sticking. Then, I’d review those hand-written notes the morning of my exam to make sure the trickiest information is the freshest in my mind. This strategy works for me because I create one centralized document for all of the information I need to know and I surface the information that’s hardest for me to learn. And as a bonus, this document becomes a great reference resource after the exam!
Are you the kind of person who likes learning from an instructor, being able to ask questions, and having a group of study buddies? If so, I highly recommend taking Sercante’s Pardot Admin Bootcamp Course. This course provides an invaluable mixture of technical learning, real-world use cases, and hands-on examples. It also provides a weekly structure that can help you stick to your study schedule ahead of the exam.
Read through the Salesforce Trailmix materials
Work your way through the Salesforce Trailmix materials from the top to the bottom. And give special attention to the sections you highlighted earlier in the exam outline. For example, if Engagement Studio isn’t your strong suit, then make sure you have a good grasp of foundational topics. These include Visitors & Prospects, Syncing Prospects, and Mapping Custom Fields before you read the Engagement Studio documentation.
Note that it is important to read the secondary documentation. What do I mean by “secondary documentation”? Here’s an example. If you open the Prospects documentation link, make sure you read through that page plus each of the linked documents on that page like “Anonymous Visitors” and “Active Prospects”.
For any of the trailhead modules listed, notice the phrasing of the questions in the quiz section. Salesforce has a very particular way of wording their questions, so think of these quizzes as mini practice tests. I’d recommend writing down any questions and answers you don’t feel confident on to come back to later. Keep in mind that once you submit your answers, the quiz will disappear.
Step 3: Take Some Practice Exams
Fortunately, there are loads of practice exams and pre-made flashcard sets available online for the Pardot Specialist Certification exam. Like the quizzes at the bottom of Salesforce’s Trailheads, these practice exams can help you get used to the style of the questions you’ll encounter on the real exam. A good goal is to keep taking the practice exams until you’re consistently hitting scores in the 80s or above.
A word of caution: you need to be careful about the answers in these practice exams. Not all of them are correct, even in the paid versions! If there are any answers that don’t feel quite right, do a quick Google search or check in your own Pardot instance until you’re 100% confident you have the right answer.
For the answers you really do get wrong, take a few minutes to dig into the related Pardot and Salesforce documentation in the exam Trailmix and practice in your own org to make sure you understand the underlying concepts and functionality. If you notice yourself consistently getting questions wrong about Dynamic vs Static Lists, for example, then study up a bit more on that topic.
Step 4: Harness the Power of Key Test-Taking Strategies
Your exam day is fast approaching. Now’s the time to start thinking about your approach to taking the exam itself. Here are a couple of key test-taking strategies you can use to help improve your odds on exam day.
Narrow down the possible answers
If there’s a question on the exam that’s stumping you, first try to eliminate any answers you know FOR SURE are wrong. Sometimes, the incorrect answers can be surprisingly obvious. For example, if the question asks, “Which activity can be used to trigger an increase or decrease in a Prospect’s score?” and one of the answers is, “Printing an email,” you can easily cross that answer off.
From a statistical perspective, eliminating just 1 of 4 answers can increase your odds of getting the question right from 25% to 33%. If you can eliminate 2 answers, your odds go up to 50%.
Mark questions for review
If you haven’t taken a Salesforce Certification exam in the past, it’s important to know that you’ll be able to mark specific questions for review. Before you submit your exam, you can come back to your flagged questions and double check your answers.
The approach I like to take is to mark any questions I’m not completely confident on for review. By using the mark-for-review feature, you can save brainpower by skipping over answers you know are correct instead of having to double check every answer before hitting the “submit” button.
If you encounter any questions during your review that you STILL aren’t confident about, then leave them in “review” status. Counting up the number of questions flagged for review just before you submit your exam can give you a ballpark idea of whether or not you’re going to pass.
Step 5: Prepare for the Exam Requirements
Alright. You’ve studied your ass off, taken a boatload of practice exams, and now your exam day is just a few days away. At this point, it’s super important to re-read the section of the exam guide about the requirements for taking an onsite or online exam thoroughly.
For online exams, there’s a bunch of pre-work you need to complete to meet the technology requirements. It’s a good idea to get this done sooner rather than later so your exam day doesn’t become extra stressful.
Get ready to take your Pardot Specialist exam
Once you’ve gone through all 5 steps – setting the scope for what you need to learn, studying, taking practice tests, harnessing some key test-taking strategies, and preparing for the exam requirements – you’re ready to take your Pardot Specialist Certification exam!
YOU CAN DO THIS.
Remember that if you don’t pass, IT’S OKAY. You can always retake the exam. The most important part of this journey is the work you’re doing to level up your Pardot Admin skills.
When you’re done taking the exam, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. How did your exam go? Which steps and strategies worked best for you?
Note: This blog was written in Summer 2021.