fbpx

4 things you need to know when preparing for CTA

In order to succeed at the end of your #JourneyToCTA, you will need a high level of preparation and training. Don’t take a superficial approach for the CTA exam… if you put in the time and effort, you’ll soon reap what you sowed.

So what is all this preparation about?

PREPARATION

There are a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Go on the Salesforce CTA601 course before you even start
  • Change your attitude: tackle the Designer exams as if they’re contributing to the success of your Review Board – not boxes you have to tick off in order to reach eligibility.
  • Don’t assume that just because you have both domain certifications, you are automatically ‘ready’ for the Review Board. Yes, you’ve reached a milestone and we should always celebrate that, but being a CTA means you need leadership, decision-making, problem-solving and communication skills. You can’t get those from a textbook.
  • Of course, do as many mock exams as you can.
  • Write some scenarios for mock exams. It’s time-consuming, but so worth doing.
  • If you’re in a position to volunteer for pre-sales work, it’ll give you some exposure to solving scenarios.
  • Put diagrams up on the wall at home as an aide-memoire.
  • Have multiple mentors – and get them to critique and test you in different ways. It’s easy to get used to one person’s judging style
  • Embrace your weaker technical areas and challenge yourself to overcome them. If you’ve got a chance to set up a single sign-on, for example, and it’s an area of weakness for you (let’s face it, it is for many of us!), volunteer to do the work.
  • Take time off to prepare in the run-up to the exam but try not to let it consume you.

ABOUT THE 601 WORKSHOP

We recommend this workshop to anyone who wants to become a CTA. It is comprehensive, and it will guide you through the whole process. The workshop is being organized and held by industry experts in Salesforce, and by CTAs sharing their expertise, in order to help you reach success on your journey.

601 Workshop

Day 1

The first day is centred around the exam guide. This is the day in which you need to familiarize yourself with – and know – the CTA exam guide better than yourself.

Day 2

The second day is about practicing. You are going to complete mock scenarios together – practice drawing artefacts and presenting them to the whole group. Q&As is going to be the hard part; you will be questioned by a variety of people. Occasionally the speaker will offer some of his own thoughts on how he’d articulate something.

WORKSHOP TAKEAWAYS

    • We’d highly recommend going on the CTA 601 course. You learn so much from the experience – things that you can’t get just from reading alone.

    These are things that you’re going to understand after this workshop:

    • Presentation skills are absolutely key.
    • Organizing your prep time and your presentation is fundamental.
    • You have to find a style of presenting that works best for you – but make sure you tell a story.
    • Go through ALL of the exam material over and over again as part of your ramp-up. 
    • Know that exam guide better than you know yourself
    • Put a plan together for your study.

PRACTICE FOR CTA #1

You should start rehearsing as soon as possible. Don’t worry, if after all the time you’re investing, and all the pieces of paper you’re going to shred in the process, your diagrams end up being a mess. You have to practice, practice and practice again, in order to get some experience and understand how things work.

Exam

NOT a real exam scenario! 

One of our team members, after her first session of practice, started to have one mock per week. Around 3 weeks into the process, she had her first face-to-face one. She told us that: “at that point, confidence and self-belief were my biggest problems. I answered questions defensively. I could feel my mood lowering and I became irritable. Yet, each mock yielded a series of things I could work on. It included technical areas, but I needed to change my mindset too.”

PRACTICE FOR CTA #2

If you want to maximise your practice time, you should get a mentor – virtually or in person. It will be pretty hard to get their full attention because their time is limited, but when you do, try to absorb as much knowledge as you can. You’re going to be grateful that you took this piece of advice. Trust us!

Study

One of your most important priorities are the revisions. You will need to organize your artefacts and presentation timing in your head, if you want to be able to demonstrate the knowledge during Q&As.

Study for CTA

So, arrange things in such a way that you have some time off work to study hard. You will need about 2 weeks.

You can use some traditional ways to revise, like reading and making notes, then re-reading notes and using muscle memory for diagrams. Some tips for studying would be to record yourself while talking through nomenclature, and listening to it in bed at night. Draw some diagrams and post them around the house, then try to imagine yourself mentally walking to whichever part of the house the diagrams are posted up – this way, you will be able to recall them in a mock exam.

Ramping up

Validation is the key when talking about topics in which you feel less confident. Your mentor can advise you if your diagrams are good and helpful, or if you have to add more information.

KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP AND YOUR BODY HEALTHY 

You should consider giving up alcohol, or attending social events, and instead workout  and relax more. If you think that a strict discipline isn’t right for you, you can instead just reduce your alcohol intake (drinking only one glass of wine, just at social gatherings). You can also simply reduce your attendance to social events. You can pass this exam, even if you have a relaxed lifestyle. What is a must for your success is starting to workout, eating a healthy diet and setting up your sleep schedule to a solid 8 hours a night.

THE IMPORTANT PART – YOUR MELTDOWN

A ‘meltdown’ is a point in time when you reach despair, and metaphorically drop everything you’re holding. Try to find an activity that allows you to release some pressure. Some examples would be to take out your frustrations on a punchbag, crying a little, running, or doing some physical work. You should find out what suits you best. We believe this is an important part of the process, because all the self-doubt and negative feelings come to a head, which allows you to deal with them, instead of pushing these emotions down, ignoring them, and letting them crush you at the exam. In the end, though, we’re all different people.

SOME FINAL ADVICE FOR THE CTA

Try working on your own focus and willpower. It will be pretty hard when starting your journey. If you lack discipline, or there is something taking your focus away, you should work on eliminating those factors out of your life. It takes a while until you enter the ‘flow-state’. When you reach it, it’s just like the runner’s rush, and you’re going to advance more and more every day.

Don’t forget that hard work and discipline aren’t the only requirements you need to meet in order to succeed. A mentor is also a requirement, and maybe you lack the time, or the network, so you don’t know where to find one.

Why do you need a mentor? Because their expertise will help you maximise all the information you’re studying and understand your weak points in your presentations. You can book our team of experts any time, in order to help you navigate through any challenges you might have in your own #JourneyToCta.

 

About the author

Gemma Blezard

CEO and Salesforce MVP

Gemma is founder and CEO of The Architech Club and a great inspiration to anyone dealing with life’s challenges. Gemma is also co-founder of Ladies Be Architects and an Award-winning advocate for diversity.
She is in demand as a conference speaker at Dreamforce, World Tour and Community events. She is open about being a Breast cancer survivor, and somehow balances being a mother, Salesforce MVP, 18 x Salesforce Certified (so far) and now an entrepreneur.

The Architech Club Ltd is a limited company registered in the UK, under Companies House registration number 12248208.
Registered at 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AX. VAT number GB 334188303.

© 2020 The Architech Club. All rights reserved.