This article teaches you the concepts of how to work through the Salesforce Release Notes, initially based on the Winter’23 release. HOWEVER! This applies to ANY Salesforce release and the steps below will show you exactly how you’ll identify what’s relevant to prepare for either your Salesforce Certification Exam or your current role as a Salesforce professional.
🌶️ BEFORE YOU EVEN LOOK AT THE SALESFORCE RELEASE NOTES
The Release Notes are a VEEEEERY long list of new features or updated features that Salesforce are releasing in that particular release cycle. It can feel very intimidating just looking at the screen. 🤯 At least that’s what it felt like to me the first few times I needed to get my head around the release updates. And that while I was preparing for my very first Salesforce Administrator Certification a few years back. If that wasn’t enough already! Now they also wanted me to understand the Release Notes too. Phew!
In particular when you are relatively new to Salesforce and are just starting to learn about its features and functionalities, you need to process everything SOMEHOW. Right? Right! You can’t possibly learn and understand everything at the same time.
Trust me when I tell you: Don’t even try. I did try and almost threw the towel. Therefore: Learn your Salesforce Fundamentals first! Only WHEN you feel at least ‘relatively’ confident, THEN start looking at the Release Notes.
UNDERSTAND WHICH RELEASE CYCLE YOUR SALESFORCE CERTIFICATION EXAM WILL BE IN
This is where you ALWAYS need to go back to: The exam guide for the Salesforce Certification you want to take. That’s your single-most source of truth. Whether you are just starting to prepare for your exam or you have booked your exam day already, this page is where you need to check the latest exam relevant knowledge topics AND the exam relevant release cycle.
The exam release cycle is displayed at the very top of your exam guide. Here’s an example of the exam guide of the Salesforce Certified Administrator. However, this applies to any exam guide:
🌶️ If you have already booked, or you are planning to book, your exam day in the near future, have a look at the Retake Policy too! It not only explains what happens in case you don’t pass, but it also includes the certification release cycle dates.
If the exam close date is around your planned exam day, you may want to plan around it. If possible, try to take the exam within the release cycle, so you don’t have to worry about it (for now). However, if that’s not possible, I’d suggest choosing a date at least 1-2 weeks after the exam launch date, so you have time to not only get familiar with the changes but also practice them in your Trailhead Playground.
👉 NOTE: The listed dates may vary. Therefore, it’s best to review this page around the planned exam launch and close dates to be sure. And of course, check the exam guide whether it already displays the new cycle.
HOW TO IDENTIFY WHAT CHANGES ARE RELEVANT TO YOUR SALESFORCE CERTIFICATION EXAM
And now comes the tricky part. What changes are actually relevant for the particular exam you are preparing for? In this article, I’ll use the Salesforce Certified Administrator as an example. If you are taking any other certification exam, then just apply the same concept.
First, you need to find the release notes to start with. Of course, you can simply type “Salesforce Release Notes” into your search machine (I mostly use Google) and it will probably come up as the first search result:
🌶️ Otherwise, I’d recommend to get familiar with the Salesforce Help pages. They are your go-to-place for anything Salesforce features and functionalities for any Salesforce Product, a.k.a. Salesforce Clouds (think Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, etc.). It’s Salesforce’s system manual, like the manual of your washing machine. 😉
👉 BOOKMARK IT! Since you’re likely going to need to review the release notes on a regular basis (if you want to be a role-model Salesforce professional), it’s best to bookmark it in your browser, so you don’t have to worry about finding it again.
And finally, here’s how to pick out the topics relevant to your upcoming exam:
1 – Look through the Release Notes main menu and focus on the topics that already sound familiar based on the topics listed in your exam guide. Here are the ones I usually look at when it comes to all things Salesforce Administration (declarative).
2 – Then go through each step-by-step. Expand their sub-topics and see what they entail.
In most cases it’s sufficient to browse over. However, if you’re really not sure what it’s about, it helps to take a closer look, a.k.a. go into one of your Trailhead Playgrounds and have a look for yourself.
The Release Notes sometimes include screenshots and a ‘How’, but unfortunately this is not always the case. I’ve often had times where I’ve been scratching my head 🤔 how the heck this features is supposed to work or where exactly in the Setup I need to go.
Plus, some of those features are not available in your Tailhead Playground (=Developer Edition. Refer to ‘Where’.) so you can’t actually test it out, but you still need to know about it. HOWEVER, it would usually not be an in-depth exam question, more a general knowledge type of question to test whether you’re familiar with general concepts and general features.
3 – Repeat this process with each menu item you’ve identified.
Even though you may be feeling pretty confident with your exam relevant knowledge, it may still feel rather overwhelming. And that’s perfectly normal. The first few months learning Salesforce are the hardest because there’s so much information thrown at you, but know that it takes time and that YOU WILL GET THERE!
Find out whether you are ready to take the real Salesforce Certification Exam
If you’re still unsure whether or not you are ready to take the real exam, then you can take Practice Exams. That’s what they are there for. 🤓
They help you identify the knowledge areas you still need to deepen. And they help you get familiar with the exam format and complexity, because they are similar to the real exam. There’s no better way to prepare!
Since the Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam is one of the hardest, Salesforce provide you with two Practice Tests. And to give you even more options to practice, we give you an additional 5 Practice Exams.
You do not have to take any of these of course, but they can give you a lot of peace of mind because you’ll know what to expect!
👉 Administrator Certification Prep Interactive Practice Test: https://developer.salesforce.com/files/ti/thi/THI-000393/administratorpracticetest.html
👉 Administrator Practice Test: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/help?article=Administrator-Practice-Test
👉 WeLearnSalesforce Practice Exam Bundle (incl. 5 Practice Exams, 60 Questions each): https://www.welearnsalesforce.com/courses/salesforce-administrator-certification-practice-exams
👉 Salesforce Certified Administrator Exam (the real one) – Register via Webassessor: https://webassessor.com/salesforce
I hope you found this article helpful. Let me know in the comments what you think about the Release Notes. Do you follow the same process or have you identified another way to process the release changes? I’d love to know!
And if you are brand new to the world of Salesforce, make sure to sign up to our FREE 21-Day Salesforce Beginners Challenge.