In this post I’m sharing my experience with passing the Heroku Architect designer exam and providing some useful material to use for studying.

My experience

Having had a couple of years worth of experience developing apps on Heroku I decided to give it a go and try and pass the relatively new Heroku Architect designer exam, and what a learning journey it’s been!

The exam definitely contains some challenging questions compared to the other designer exams offered by Salesforce, but it pays off with good preparation, studying, and of course also having some experience under your belt!

I set myself a goal of just 3 days to study before taking the exam, with each day setting aside two hours for reading and to familiarise myself even more with every aspect of the platform. My studying time was six hours in total and the recommended time is 17 hours (Trailmix total studying time). Your preparation time may vary depending on experience. I just so happened to have the recommended minimum experience on the platform of two years.

The exam

A quick overview of the exam:

  • 60 questions
  • 105 minutes
  • 72% passing score
  • Costs $400

The exam outline:

  • Heroku Platform – 10%
  • Data – 17%
  • Security – 15%
  • Heroku Enterprise – 28%
  • Application Architecture – 15%
  • Integrations – 15%

Materials I used


First of all, one of the best places to get an overview of what’s included in the exam and what to study can be found on Trailhead.

The people who set up the trail mix have done an amazing job indicating what to go and study, and where to find the related material. Definitely go through each and every module in the mix. Pay attention to the exam outline and do spend the time on the larger sections indicated.

Heroku DevCenter

The DevCenter is one of the best examples of good documentation you can find. Easy to read, up to date, and easy to navigate around.

Ensure you read each section in the documentation indicated by the trail mix on Trailhead. Don’t just read the article linked to, but go and read the related articles around it as well. It doesn’t hurt to do this and you might even discover new features along the way you might not have known about! I certainly did!

12 Factors

Without a doubt, the 12 factor methodology used by Heroku is amazing and eye opening for designing applications. It takes about 30 minutes to read through all of the information, and it’s worth the read.

Even if you’re not planning on undertaking the exam, this micro website really offers a treasure trove of information for building rock solid applications.

Dive into the new Heroku Architecture Certification exam

There is a really good video from Salesforce outlining what’s included in the exam and also includes a couple sample questions. Useful to gauge what’s included in the exam.

What’s great about the video is that the person presenting (Greg Nokes, Principle Solution Architect) is the person who wrote the questions for the exam!

Intro to Event-Driven Architectures with Apache Kafka on Heroku

This is a bit of a long video, but worth the watch! A great introduction to Apache Kafka on Heroku.

Kafka Tutorial – Core Concepts

I really enjoyed watching this video. The presenter does a great job on breaking down the core concepts behind Apache Kafka and kind of gives an idea of how simple Heroku makes it to use Kafka!

Beyond buzzwords: Microservices, Evented Architecture, and Apache Kafka on Heroku

Great advice on microservices, application architecture, and when to use Apache Kafka. It’s a relatively short video, but contains some really good advice.


Here are some general tips on passing the exam.

  • Definitely use Trailhead!
  • Be familiar with the Heroku UI and go and explore each and every section.
  • Don’t skimp on reading the information in the DevCenter. It’s a goldmine for finding information!
  • Gain experience of the different data options provided by Heroku, majority are free to use and the ones which aren’t do not cost very much for a couple of days usage.
  • Try and gain experience from other sites on the internet, though I could only find one other post over on Paul Battisson’s blog.

Best of luck!

For those planning on undertaking the exam, I wish you the very best of luck in passing!

Even if you’re not planning on taking on the exam, there is a wealth of useful information outlined above which will definitely make you a better well rounded developer/architect.