If you fail your first certification attempt, welcome to the club, you are in good company. I was well prepared for my first certification, and I failed the first time. I did a quick informal poll within a user group and within my company, and 92% of people I asked have failed at least 1 certification attempt. ~65% of people failed their very first certification exam. So it is extremely common to fail.
Failing Doesn’t Equal Failure
Don’t let a failed attempt discourage you. You should view your first certification exam as a way to get a feel for the process. Whether you are taking your exam in a testing center, or through the online proctoring, the process can be a little foreign. In addition, you have to learn the types of questions Salesforce asks, the way it expects answers, and time management.
Getting a feel for the process and the exam is important, and is really the goal of your first attempt. If you pass your first time, that is a great achievement. If you don’t, you can retake and pass the next attempt.
Reviewing the Scores
In the past, you were not provided with your score, so it was difficult to know where your knowledge gaps were. Salesforce announced a change to that process, and now provides section level scores when you complete the exam. That has been an incredible help to so many people. You now can see where you did well, where you struggled, and where to focus your additional study. This single change has been hugely helpful! I love being able to understand how I did. Even when I pass the exam, I still like to review the section scores to identify areas where I could have improved.
When reviewing your scores, make sure to take into account the weighting of the sections. I build mine into a spreadsheet to get my overall score and figure out total missed questions in each section. Use this to guide your study and identify the knowledge gaps.
Take Notes After Your Exam
Another piece of advice is to spend 15 minutes after your exam writing notes on things you were unsure of. If there was a specific topic or question (what is the difference between customizable and collaborative forecasting?) that you were unsure of, jot it down. You can research those topics to get a better understanding.
Finally, schedule your retake! The retake fee is half of the original test fee, so (once the 24 hour waiting period is over) schedule your retake and get studying! You will be better prepared the next time around.
If you are preparing for your first (or next) certification, feel free to reach out. I strive to be available to people to help them on their journey to Salesforce certification.