I finally did it — as of last week, I am a Tableau Desktop Certified Associate.™ This has been a few weeks in the making, and I’m certainly relieved that I got it on my first try.

What I found most challenging

My bladder. No, seriously. The exam itself is two hours long, and there’s also a setup period beforehand that’s meant to take 10-15 minutes normally but, in my case, took nearly a half hour.

Leaving your chair is prohibited during the entire duration of the exam, which naturally means no bathroom breaks.

Normally, holding it in for 2.5 hours is perfectly doable for me. Thing is, though, I drank a lot of coffee beforehand. That’s the one thing I would’ve done differently if I could go back in time and change my exam prep.

How to prepare

Again, you’ll be seated and working for 2.5 hours without any breaks. You’ll also have someone monitoring you through your webcam at all times, and you can bet on them interrupting you if you spend too long glancing down or to the side.

Needless to say, it’s an uncomfortable experience. So make sure you do your best to make yourself more comfortable. Be hydrated but not too hydrated. Adjust your webcam or laptop camera so that you can stay in-frame down to your shoulders without straining anything.

In my case, the setup period took longer than expected because of a technical misunderstanding. The exam rules state that you’re only supposed to work from one screen. Since I’ve got a second monitor, I intended to keep my laptop screen turned off and to work from the monitor instead. Unfortunately for me, because the examiner had no way of checking that my laptop screen was indeed off, I was ultimately forced to abandon the monitor and just work from my much smaller laptop instead.

If you’re keen on using a second monitor, I would suggest investing in a detachable webcam that’ll allow the examiner to see both of your screens at the same time. A separate keyboard could also be useful.

It’s about the outcome, not the process

In terms of the content of the exam itself, my one piece of advice would be to focus on getting the answer, not perfecting the process.

You have a lot of resources available to you. Notably, you’re allowed to Google, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it or any of its accessories.

Once or twice, I couldn’t remember the syntax for a specific final calculation — so I just used Google’s calculator widget. It’s obviously best to do everything properly in Tableau if you can, but don’t force yourself to if it means wasting precious time on a question.

The Data School
Author: The Data School