Golden Nuggets – Acing Application Architect Certification!

Golden Nuggets – Acing Application Architect Certification!

Last Updated on July 16, 2022 by Rakesh Gupta

On 28th October, 2017, I became a certified Application Architect! Yes, I did pat myself on the back! And, now, I am writing this blog to cheer you on! You too should join the club! Here is roadmap!

Expansive? Yes! Worth it? Certainly!

Undoubtedly, to become a Salesforce Certified Application Architect, one has to have an extensive knowledge of (1) native Salesforce features and functionality; and (2), possess skills to model a role hierarchy, data model, and appropriate sharing mechanisms. The prerequisites to get the Application Architect certification include:

  • Salesforce Certified Data Architecture and Management Designer
  • Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer
  • Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I
  • Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder

The Application Architect certification is granted after completing all the four prerequisites – irrespective of the order of completion.

Strategy to Ace Prerequisites and the Application Architect Certification!

Remember without the experience of Subject matter certification holds zero value. 

Platform App Builder

In 2015, I completed Platform App Builder and Platform Developer I certification. In order to get certified, you must understand designing, building, and deploying custom applications using the declarative customization capabilities of the platform. You must also understand how to create, manage, and update data models, application security, business logic, and process automation. Remember that process automation (Workflow Rule, Process Builder, Visual Workflow and Approval Process) and data modeling play a key role in this exam. It covers around 47% of the syllabus.

Trailhead is a gold mine – leverage it!

Platform Developer 1

When it comes to Platform Developer I certification, if you have basic knowledge of Apex, Visualforce page, and Lightning Component, you can easily crack this exam. To earn this certification, you must understand when to use declarative tools vs codes. Furthermore, you also need to know how to use SOQL, SOSL and DML statements when working with objects in Apex. Make sure that you understand how to write test classes and use debugging tools.

Again, leverage Trailhead to prepare for this exam.

If you do not have much experience with development then, I suggest you do extensive hands-on practice in your developer org. 

Sharing and Visibility Designer

To ace Sharing and Visibility Designer certification, you must demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities to design secure, scalable security models on the platform.

Personally, I have not come across any documentation to prepare for this exam. However, let me share with you my unexpected, unnerving, and hopefully rare, experience with this exam!

Often, on the social media, I use to read how fellow Salesforce enthusiasts aced the Architect domain certification exam. Not sure what came over me on October 8th, 2017 – I downloaded the certification study guide! I browsed through the guide and, on the spur of the moment, registered to take the exam on October 20th, 2017. Very unlike me albeit, as days passed, I forgot all about my audacity! This was bad enough! But then, on October 19th, 2017, my notification for the exam popped up while I was enjoying my dinner. Oh my god! I panicked! How could this happen? Why did this happen? At one point or another, some of us have been in a similar situation! Now what?

Breath! I channeled my anxiety led energy to calm my mind. Breath, I repeated. After the anxiety subsided, whether to appear for the exam or to skip it was the question! Next day, I mustered much-needed courage and appeared for the exam anyway! To my pleasant surprise, I not only passed but, I found the exam easier than other platform-specific exams – like Sales Cloud Consultant or Service Cloud Consultant.

One may be tempted to attribute my passing to sheer luck. Luck could have played a part – although, I always find that harder I work, better my luck gets! If I were to take a guess, I would attribute the ‘fluke’ to my disciplined approach to mastering the Salesforce Platform. Daily, rain or shine, I spend at least couple of hours exploring the platform. I have written several books on how to master the platform. Furthermore, I am an avid Salesforce blogger. And last but not least, I am active on the Salesforce Trailblazer community – I try to solve as many questions on the Salesforce Trailblazer Community as possible.

Designer Certification is unique but relatively easy if you have command over the intricacies of the platform. For, once you earn this certification, your employer and co-workers will expect you to be a walking Salesforce Encyclopedia! From their perspective, now, you are the one who understands the platform very well and therefore, should be able to design a scalable solution. 

Before appearing for this exam, make sure you understand security and sharing model in Salesforce including, OWD, Role hierarchy, Profile, Permission SetSharing Rule, Manual Sharing, Team Sharing and Territory management. You must also thoroughly understand Sharing (Sharing Rule or Apex Managed Sharing) implications while dealing with Large Data Volume (LDV). Also, go through License types (including Full LicensesHigh Volume Customer Portal Licenses and, Chatter Free Licenses).

Exam Outline

  • 60 multiple-choice/multiple-select questions* (2–5 unscored questions may be added) – 120 mins
  • 68% is the passing score
  • Go through the training and materials available here free resource guide for this domain certification

If you have working experience on the above-mentioned topics, and have thoroughly gone through the free resource study guide, then, you should easily able to crack this exam. 

Data Architecture and Management Designer

Data Architecture and Management Designer exam is for anyone who can not only assesses the architecture environment and requirements but, can also design sound, scalable, and high-performing solutions on the platform as it pertains to enterprise data management. I have extensive experience in working with Data management in Salesforce; and therefore, I spent about a week to prepare for this exam. 

The exam’s structure is significantly different than other consultant exams; in that, 90% or above questions are scenario-based! Many questions are not short and, may contain multiple requirements that comprise of various topics. 

The exam mostly focuses on Query optimizerLarge data volume (aka LDV), Skinny table, Master data management (aka MDM), Data quality ( Clean, Prospect, Duplicate Rule and Matching Rule), Primary Key Chunking (PK Chunking) and how to deal with Report timeout issues when you are working with LDV. Apart from these topics, make sure you understand Data Skew, Ownership Skew, Selective vs Non-Selective query, Deterministic vs Non-Deterministic formula fields and their implications. 

Another area that you need to focus on is importing and exporting LDV. Make sure you have a strong handle on how to import and/or export millions and millions of records. Which tools (API) to use for faster importing of data; which tools to use to auto backup and delete data etc., ( Data Loader, Schedule Batch Apex, Third party ETL tools and their role in data manipulation). 

To pass the exam you must deeply understand the following key areas: 

  • Understand design model that supports data and sharing model on LDV environment.
  • Be aware of the platform-specific design patterns and key limits (When to use reports or Wave Analytics; which API to use to import the data; and, Indexing issue etc.,). 
  • Understand large data volume considerations, risks, and mitigation strategies.
  • Understand LDV considerations with communities.
  • Understand the tools to audit Metadata changes in Salesforce.
  • Solve timeout Issues during data loads and how to avoid them.
  • Have thorough understanding of Validation Rules, Apex Triggers, and Workflow Rules. And, know how to use the rules to improve the data quality. 
  • Understand data movement (from a legacy system or from ERP or third-party system) best practices in an LDV environment.
  • Understand strategies to build an optimized and high-performing solution.
  • Know the best practices around Data Archival in Salesforce.

Exam Outline:

  • 60 multiple-choice/multiple-select questions – 90 mins.
  • 67% is the passing score.
  • Go through the training and materials available here free resource guide for this domain certification

Here is a list of material that must be thoroughly read in addition to the free resource guide


If you have good hands-on experience with all the above topics, I am sure that you will be able to earn Application Architect certification. However, if you do not have enough experience with the platform, and you aim to become a Salesforce Certified Application Architect, then, I suggest you draw a 2-3 year plan to prepare for it. In the very first year, focus on the Platform App Builder certification exam. Then in the second year focus on Platform Developer I certification exam – as you are required to have basic knowledge of Apex, Visualforce page, and Lightning Component. In the third, and final, year, for the first six months, focus on Sharing and Visibility Designer certification – as it requires extensive knowledge of the platform. At the end of the third year, you should focus on the Data Architecture and Management Designer certification. 

Follow these tips and setup your career goal to become an Application Architect. Good Luck!

Technical Editor and Proofreader: - Munira Majmundar
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