Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Five Oh One Part One: The Advanced Developer Certification Exam

A few hours ago I sat down to take the first part of the Salesforce Advanced Developer Certification, that part being a multiple choice test in a similar style to those used for the Certified Administrator and Certified Developer tests — and here are a few of my thoughts pertaining to it.
  • For me (being a day to day developer) this was the easiest of the three exams I've passed so far, that said, you need to be a developer with experience — being a C++ guru is not going to help you here. If you've just completed the Certified Developer exam and have never written code, do not jump straight into this, you will fail, hard.
  • Make sure you understand the order of execution when records are being updated, i.e. when triggers fire in relation to workflows, assignment rules etc. and make sure you know what valid markup looks like for Visualforce pages, components and email templates. 
  • There are many best practices associated with working on the platform, ranging from deployment techniques to working in a development team, many of these are detailed in the developer guide and you'd be wise to learn about them regardless of the exam.
  • Email services are tested, as are web-services, including when and where they can be used.
  • Learn about the various Apex class annotations, you'll need to know what each of them does and what intricacies may relate to their usage.
Long story short: If you're an experience developer who's been working on the platform for a while and you have the Developer Certification under your belt, chances are you won't struggle here.

I'd still like feedback on what I got right and what I got wrong, though I have heard that you do get this upon completion of the full 501 course; in each of the exams I've sat so far there have been a couple of questions where I'd really like to know if I got them right. Next up is the assignment portion of the certification, and I can't wait to get stuck in!

For more help on getting your head around what's involved, Steven Herod has just posted a blog article (only ten minutes ago) which details exercises you can do to put into practice much of the knowledge you'll need for the 501.

It has been announced on Linkedin that registrations for the second part of the Advanced Developer Certification will open on the 21st of December, with the work being handed out to candidates towards the end of January 2012.


  1. I can attest to the 'failing hard', my first time through the exam was a week after my 401 with no real experience and I failed hard - the second time around was a few weeks later (Still with no experience) and I felt I came close. The third time I passed with about 6 months experience and without too much fuss.

    The assignment portion I feel is much easier than the exam, but you do need to put in the 20 hours they recommend covering all the edges.

  2. Hi Matt, Congrats for getting thru 1st step of 501, I like your confidence you were already quite sure about it.
    I want to know, if one has to revise the things from 401 also for 501. Like security, relationships etc.
    Also on many blogs I have seen that people say 501 contains may questions which are quite long and you really need to be fast to cover everything in 2 hrs. Is it true? How much time did you take?
    Last thing, is site, portal, beta features like apex charting etc are included. Study guide doesn't reflect this.

  3. Hi,

    Thanks! I definitely found it easier than the previous exams as its falls more inside my comfort zone than reports do for instance. Going in I was slightly concerned by the longer time frame (2 hours instead of 1.5) and greater number of questions, but these concerns proved to be unfounded. I only had a handful of questions which were considerably longer than those in the other exams, and even then it was largely just code samples which couldn't really be much shorter. When I hit submit to complete the test the clock was a little under 55 minutes, so it took less than an hour and that was with a second pass through the exam to double check the ones I wasn't 100% sure about.

    Unlike the 201 and 301, this exam made no mention of the customer portal, and it definitely didn't include anything to do with beta features. It largely focusses on correct syntax and understanding of how Visualforce and Apex work together.

  4. Hi Matt, Thanks for answering my queries. Do you have any idea how frequently salesforce open their assignment window. The one is on this 21t Dec, but any idea about after that?
    I tried contacting them but no answer.

  5. Afraid I don't really have any solid information on that, though I know a round just finished so it would seem like they're back to back — given that registration opens on the 21st, then the hand out is end of Jan and you have a month and then the essay, it would seem to me that they're run every 3-4 months.

  6. oh ok... thanks for your reply...
    I hope you will secure a place in this session... i have heard it gets full very quickly....

  7. Hi Matt,

    Were you able to register for assignment. I saw the linkedin posts many people could not register for assignment part. And one post says next window is in May 2012, this is really disappointing.
    I just cleared the 1st step was hoping that window would remain open even after 2 days (how silly i am to think like this).
    Now the bad part is even though I have completed one of the tough part of DEV 501 certification I can still not have it in my cv as it looks incomplete.

  8. Hey mate,

    Unfortunately not! It seems that it filled up in a matter of hours, not giving people outside of the US much chance given the time differences. I was told the next registration will open in May, though I sincerely hope that they revise the 501 before then as obviously there will be even more people trying to register for what appears to be a very limited number of places. It is very disappointing, all we can do is wait to see what Salesforce say about it!

  9. After leaving that comment I have been offered a place on the assignment via email. Hopefully a few others will have received that too!

  10. oh wow... thats a good news Matt... congrats for that... i was busy in my Advance admin certification so checked this blog today....

  11. Hi Matt,

    I've been preparing for 501 and been looking for an article like this. Thanks for sharing the touch points and its really helpful. I'd like to hear more from you about as I've few queries.

    I've been working on for quiet a good period of time. But I've never worked on webservices keeping this aside I've good knowledge on Apex coding and visualforce. So I wanted to know that if this is going to have any impact on 501.


  12. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for the advice.
    I have been regularly reading your blog posts and they have been very helpful.

    I completed the dev401 recently.
    I have been working as a salesforce developer for quite some time now.
    (Both Declaratively and programatically. Also done ETL integrations using the SOAP API). So, I am hands on with Apex and Visualforce on a daily basis.

    I plan to register for the 501 very soon. Please can you suggest some topics of higher importance. This would greatly help me greatly for my upcoming exam preparations.

    Thanks and look forward to your response.


    1. Erashad, did you get your 501? Somehow I totally missed this comment :(

      Topics that nearly caught me out were things like VF templates and a little on VF components. Generally if you've been writing pages and know the standard stuff well (i.e. standard controllers and standard set controllers) and have a good knowledge of VF tags you'll be just fine.

  13. Hi Matt,
    I have passed my " Certified Advacned Developer (Multiple Choice)".
    Great article and you shared nice information. It was very helpful.

  14. Hi Matt,

    Thank you for this post. It was really helpful. For the second part of the exam, the assignment portion, how exactly do you register for it? I passed the first part of the exam last week, but didn't receive any email telling me to register for the second part. Registration was supposed to open on July 8th, 2013.

    1. Hi Howard, you might be out of luck by now. When registration opens a registration link will become available to you inside of Web Assessor. If it's not there now, chances are the slots have all filled up for this round. It's definitely something that sorely needs fixing.

  15. Hey Matt Do you have any notes ? will you please share with us ?

  16. Starting here today! Preparing for the test exam. Thanks for sharing your experience. It is so helpful.

  17. If I take (and pass) the 501 exam, how long do I have to do the project and the essay?

    1. Hi Kevin,

      I'm not aware of a time limit on the validity of the initial exam. They only open up registration for the second part every few months, and then it's quite tricky to get a spot. Once you do get it there's a window of around 6 weeks to submit the assignment and complete the essay. The essay must be done after submitting the assignment, and is a proctored exam like the initial multiple-choice exam.

  18. Took 2 days to study..exam is tomm in 15 hrs...Just reviewing both the vf and apex guides based on the study guide....hope to bank on experience and studies as not many practice exams out there. Your blog posts helped a lot!!!!

  19. I passed the exam earlier today. I was nervous and scared that I might fail, but despite the initial jitters at some of the tricky questions I nailed it!! I am so happy. The only dark cloud is that currently the programming assignment schedule is not available n the certification site, the explanation given is that Salesforce is improving the Advanced Developer program