What is Tableau and Why should you get certified?

Tableau is a trending and market-leading business intelligence tool used to visualise and analyse your data in an easily understandable format. It allows you to work on the live dataset and spend more time on data analysis than data wrangling. There is a surge in demand for tableau professionals in the job market; whether you are a data/business analyst, job seeker or career change, getting certified is a great way to demonstrate your proficiency in Tableau. Also, studying for this exam is not only for charts creating but also gives you a comprehensive understanding of the Tableau platform. This blog will give you a guide on how to prepare the Tableau Desktop Certified Associate Exam.



There are 3 exams for Tableau desktop, Specialist, Certified Associate and Certified Professional. Specialist exam tests foundational product knowledge, Certified Associate (CA) is mid-level; it’s applicable for those who have the capability of understanding the functionalities in Tableau; professional is the advanced level.  There are no required prerequisites for specialist and CA exam. It is 2 hours in length with 36 multiple-choice questions, you will need to score above 75% to pass, and there is a mix of hands-on and knowledge-based questions. It’s an open book exam; Google is your friend during the exam.


How to Prepare for the Exam?

1. Exam Preparation Guide: This is the official guide for the exam; it provides information on the exam structure, along with the knowledge and skills measured and contains some sample questions. It will help if you go through all topics in this guide when you prepare your exam.

2. Tableau Training Videos: Tableau offers extensive training videos with an exercise and solution workbook for each topic. Most topics under the Creator section are relevant for this exam except Tableau Prep and Tableau Server. If you have any topics don’t understand, here is the solution. Go through all the videos relates to the exam guide twice.

3. Tableau Desktop and Web Authoring Help: Please remain this website open all time during your exam, and this is the place to find out answers for all knowledge questions.

4. Tips for Preparing for the Tableau QA Exam: This video is from Tableau Zen Master Andy Kriebel, and he is also the head coach at Data School UK. In this video, Andy shared his experiences of Tableau CA exam and talked about skills sections individually. This is a must-watch video when preparing your exam.

5. Practice Tests: There are many mock tests available when you search on Google; most of them are not free. You’d better take 2, 3 tests before the exam that mimic the actual exam characteristics.


Important topics in Exam

1. Level of details Expressions: LOD expressions are very powerful features of Tableau; it provides a way to easily compute aggregation that is not at the level of detail of the visualisation. THREE types of LOD expressions: FIXED, INCLUDE, EXCLUDE; you don’t need to know all of them, but you must know FIXED because things INCLUDE AND EXCLUDE CAN DO, FIXED ALSO CAN DO. In the exam, the question might ask to calculate the percentage of profit in the year 2020 made by the customer who orders the first product in 2017. Top 15 LOD Expressions is a must-read blog provided by Tableau.

2. Top N and Bottom N: This is about the knowledge of set in Tableau, you should understand what’s the difference between group and set, the question could be the number of customers in top 100 sales, also in bottom 100 profits.

3. Table Calculations: It is another main part of the exam, it will test your skills with moving average, running total, percent of total or difference. The tip in this part is that you need to read the question carefully if they ask you about moving average, they might mention that do NOT include current value.

4. Analytics pane: Exam in this part is tests your analysis skills using reference line, trend line, trend model, p-value, forecasting, box plot and so on, it’s an easy part, you should not spend too much time on this.

5. Data connection: Most questions from data connection are knowledge base questions, but also appear in hands-on practice question, such as the difference between extract and live connection, some of the questions are required data preparation, like pivot, union, blending and data interpreter. This part is one of the most challenging and tricky section in the exam, and you must understand each term clearly

6. Mapping: Theory in this section is to test your skills on the map dashboard, the question can ask you like find out the nearest place with distance, or how to fix null value in the map.

7. Filter: There are many filters in Tableau, you should know the difference between each of them, also the order of the operation.



Tips on exam day:

  • The exam will be conducted in a Virtual Machine with datasets and tableau ready for the exam; You can only use Internet Browser and Tableau, Excel is NOT available in the exam.
  • Use a monitor with a desktop PC instead of a laptop, prefer ultra-wide monitor, open browser and tableau side by side to make it more efficient.
  • Crosstab is very handy and easy to find the answer in some of the questions, even asking you to create a chart.
  • Rename the sheets to the number of questions, colouring the sheet that you don’t know the answer, easy to go back when you finish all and check it.
  • ALWAYS check the version of the software using in the exam, you can find in Exam Preparation Guide; it might not be the latest one, so the new features will exclude from the exam.

I hope you have found this blog helpful, and good luck on your exam and Tableau journey! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions related to this blog.







Jason Hu
Author: Jason Hu