If you’re preparing to take the Tableau Certified Associate Exam, and you’re not sure if you’re ready yet, or if just want some tips on how to best prepare for it, then this post is for you!
Of course, this is not the only blog post you’ll read on this topic. I was inspired to write this one about my preparation steps towards the exam by a few good ones that I found while I was preparing. Check this one by Jonathon Cavalieri (DSAU 1), this one by Wiktoria Rudz (DS UK), and this one by Louise Le (DS UK), which has a very detailed description of what the exam environment looks like – yep, that’s one of the things that was scaring me the most going into the exam (but we’ll get there). Another thing I found interesting when researching study material was this viz on Tableau Public, detailing preparation steps. Well worth having a look!
While preparing for the exam, I used a handful of resources that I’ll share with you, explaining why they made a difference for me.
1. Read, re-read, and read yet again the official Exam Prep Guide
This may seem like an obvious one, but I assure you one of the best ways to prepare for the exam is to know by heart the contents you should expect to be asked about. Going into the exam, you should be comfortable with every skill listed on that document.
In fact, this was my starting point while preparing. To give you an idea, in the Data Connection topics there were some that I remembered hearing about when first starting to use Tableau, but that I had never really used before. Shadow extracts rang a bell, but I couldn’t define what they were off the top of my head. The same happened with understanding performance optimisation. Don’t get me wrong – you don’t have to know all this in great detail to succeed since it’s an open book exam. However, you should try your best not to be caught by surprise with a question – you’re more likely to get needlessly nervous in the actual exam environment and spend twice the time looking for the answer. The more familiar you are with every topic listed on the skills assessment, the fastest you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for and move on to the next question.
My tip here is: if you find a topic you’re not comfortable with, look it up on the Tableau help page and watch their training videos on that topic. Combined, they’ll tell you pretty much everything you need to know about that.
Once you get familiar with the topics, it’s time to get your hands dirty. There are a few very good sources online to help you practise for the exam.
Learning Tableau is one of them. There you’ll find heaps of quizzes on a diverse range of topics covered in the exam. It’s an excellent place to start testing how you ready you are to take the exam.
There is an online 60-minutes course on Udemy that prepares you for the exam. It has videos on each of the most relevant topics and a mock-exam that you can take at the end. I suggest timing it and simulate as much as you can the environment where you’ll be taking the exam. Make sure you got a 2-hour slot where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. I got it done in about 1h15, which left me 45 minutes to review every question, especially the ones that I knew less about.
Finally, if you think you still need a bit more hands-on experience with practice exams, this website has three, with a video explaining the solutions for each question. I recommend watching every single one when you’re done with the exam even if you got that question right simply because there is no one correct way to find the answer for the hands-on questions in Tableau, but you may see a better way to approach some of them. For me, it was very helpful to see other ways to tackle those questions, and I ended up using that to verify my answers when I took the exam.
Last, but not least, it’s never enough to emphasise how good Tableau’s help page is. The more you use it when preparing for the exam, the more familiar you’ll be with how the content is structured there, and it’ll be much quicker to find the answers you’re looking for.
SOME FINAL TIPS
Once you’ve done the hard part of studying, there are a few last steps to help you have a smooth and successful exam experience.
Go through the Exam Setup Guide and make sure everything’s up and running with the test links it provides. You won’t want to find out your camera is failing you 5 minutes before the exam!
Make sure you have a good and stable internet connection. This is very important since you’ll take the exam on a virtual machine that even with a good internet connection, is sometimes pretty slow and can get on your nerves. Be prepared for that!
On exam day, make sure you have the confirmation e-mail that you got when you registered for the exam handy on exam day and know the password to login onto the Loyalist platform. And don’t forget your ID!
When you’re taking the exam, make sure your face is visible at all times on the webcam. I was interrupted by the proctor about twice during the exam because I had sort of slumped in my chair, looking at the screen and had gotten out of the camera frame. If you want to avoid unnecessary scares during the exam, sit right and face the camera at all times.
When you’re practising with the mock-exams, make your Tableau 2/3 of your screen, and the questions page 1/3. Get used to that layout, and use it in the exam as well. It makes it much easier than switching back and forth all the time.
And last but not least, have a great exam!