As you may have observed, I was on hiatus for the last few months and the reason for that was CTA exam preparation.
The purpose of this blog post is to share my experience and motivate you to embark on this journey.
Lets bust some of the myths around CTA
- Getting designer certification does not mean you have good platform knowledge. There are many aspects that are not covered in designer exams like Tableau CRM, Heroku, Mulesoft, CPQ, etc
- Certification is not easy if you are a developer, admin, or consultant. Everyone has something to learn. If you are a good developer then you will need to work on your communication and articulation. If you are a good admin then you would need to learn customization capability etc
- This exam is easy for a few candidates who are CTO or have 15+ years of experience. That’s not true. Definitely some presale role, Architect & leadership experience will help in exam. EVERYONE that I have met has put hundreds of hours after office & over the weekends. Success may look easy from the outside but behind the scene, it’s a huge effort.
In my opinion, You need to have the right balance of Platform knowledge, Story Articulation capability, Overall strategy, and Time Management, which was my CTA Mantra.
5 steps that will increase your chances of passing CTA exam
1. Get CTA Mentor
First of all, you would need a CTA mentor throughout your journey. On average it can take between 6-18 months to nail a CTA exam. Salesforce Ohana is extremely helpful, I asked many CTA to become my mock judge and almost 90% response was positive. The remaining 10% wanted to help but they all were over-occupied. However, let’s be realistic, you can’t expect them to be your mentor throughout your journey. Few mock sessions are acceptable but you can’t expect them to be with you all the time.
In the 2018 CTA certification attempt, I did all my best but still failed the exam miserably. I couldn’t find a full-time mentor and therefore joined Flow republic in Dec 2019.
I still remember my first mock with Seb, I was overconfident & thought that I know a lot about Salesforce. However, the kind of question that was asked to me, I realized my 2018 mistake immediately. CTA exam is not about how much you know, it’s about how you deliver your thought in a timely & effective manner. Next 18 months, I spent most of my time on communication and soft skill.
Joining Flow republic is not a magic bullet that will guarantee your success. Its coaching program where you will get guidance. Following those suggestions, and working hard would be up to the candidate.
2. Get Study Buddy
It’s a long journey and it’s very easy to get lost in personal life, project workload, etc. You need someone who can push you to the edge & keep reminding you that you have to climb the mountain. I was fortunate to have a study buddy who was as dedicated as me and a hard worker. Waruna and I met in 2018 in Ladies be Architect mock and later coincidently we were part of the same batch of flow-republic.
Later, Waruna & I expanded our group and added few more study buddies. This helped us get a different perspective and added more challenges in preparation.
3. Build knowledge gap and action plan
The next important step is to work on areas where you are not comfortable. Example – CPQ, Field Service, Salesforce Maps, LWC, Lightning Scheduler, etc. It’s not that easy to identify the gap. I listed around 20-25 topics and then did my first mock with friends. In each mock, I was asked something that I didn’t know. I took that opportunity and kept adding items to the gap list.
I created a Trello board organized by month and kept moving topics from gap list to month column. In this way, I was able to track my effort of each month and all notes around the topic were added in Trello.
4. Join CTA community groups
In the last 1 year, I have seen some extremely good CTA study groups. Join those groups and contribute to each other’s success. Huge shout out to these group organizers. if you are seeing more CTA passing exams, these groups are one of the reasons.
Benelux Group – This group asks some good & tough questions in mock. This group also runs some unique sessions like the Agile workshops etc.
Melissa’s Group – This group focuses more on Salesforce platform knowledge. They meet on alternate days and discuss the latest and greatest topics about the exam. This group also runs mock dry runs every Saturday & Sunday.
CTA Study Group 1111 – This group also focuses on building a knowledge base and they meet once a week, mostly on Saturday.
Apex Hours – Apex hours has some unique content around the CTA exam. Videos related to Marketing clouds came in handy in my preparation. There are tons of videos from CTA like Carl, Mitesh, Karishma, etc.
5. Decide Tools
Another important aspect is how you are organizing materials while preparing for the CTA exam? You need to make sure you are able to revise your notes in the last 2-3 days of the exam and in order to do that, you need to use proper tools. Below are the tools that I used
- Google Docs – Single cheatsheet document for all CTA topics
- Trello – Building knowledge gap and action plan for each topic. After each topic, adding a comment which was a link to Google docs or Youtube videos
- Youtube – Private youtube videos to record hands-on. This is an important activity as it’s easy to forget your hard work after few months. You can watch these video while having dinner or gym 😉
- Lucid Chart – For everything diagraming especially mind map
- Quizlet – Get paid version for 1 year and build your flashcards. Revise them once a week or every night
The journey is as much important as CTA certification
I can say proudly that even before getting CTA certification, I could see the difference in my professional capability. I started following the same format of the CTA exam in my actual project. In each meeting, I started putting myself in the shoes of clients on what they want, why they want, and what is a better way to achieve requirements.
Once again, I would like to thank everyone who helped me in this journey.
Feel free to comment on this post if you started your CTA journey and need assistance in the mock or finding a knowledge gap.