When I was registering to Tableau Conference there was an option to take the certification exam while in the Austin so I gave it a try. It was just a matter of adding the item to your shopping cart, swipe the credit card and I was good to go.
2 weeks before the exam I received an e-mail from Tableau with few tasks to do before going to conference. Basically they ask you to create an account in their test platform.
I took my Tableau Advanced Desktop training materials with me to Austin and tried to re-do the practice exercise available on it. Now that I did the exam I would suggest this as a good refresher as several questions had similar structure as the ones from these materials. I also tried to watch some Tableau Learn videos, in special about LOD expressions and Table Calculations, while going from my hotel to the conference center.
By using the Tableau Conference app I was able to register to several hands on trainings which were very helpful to organize my knowledge of Tableau. I was a bit crazy with my selections (e.g by attending Jedi calculations sessions) but if I don’t expose myself to the “unknown” I will never challenge myself to learn more.
Data night out & Rest
The Data night out party was in the evening previous to my exam. What to do? Party or Rest? Why not both? So I went to the party, hang out with my colleagues, eat some great Texas food but decided to leave around 9pm. It was a great choice as traffic was great and bus with plenty of space. By 11pm I was taking a well deserved rest.
The schedule in the last day of Tableau Conference normally has 3 morning sessions, a quick break for lunch, the last keynote and the event wraps up. I opted to go to some lighter sessions and it was a good choice because I got inspired by some of the best Tableau specialists. After the keynote I went straight to the test area, got my username and password and I was ready to take the exam.
Tip 1: don’t drink or eat before entering the test room as it is not allowed to exit the room after you start the exam.
As soon as you finish your login to the exam system you will be presented with instructions about the tools you have. Tableau you give you 5 minutes to read the instructions but really you will not need to use all of it.
Tip 2: there is a button that you can use to mark the questions you are not sure about the answer. Mark these so you can check these at the end.
As you click next you will be presented with the first question. The instructions are very well written but ensure to read them with calm so you understand what you need to do. Once you are fine with it then start your “scavenger hunt” for the right answer.
Tip 3: Use the Windows feature to snap the Chrome browser on the left of your screen and snap Tableau Desktop on the right. This will allow you to have on-screen at the same time both the question and Tableau with your analysis.
Tip 4: After I found the answer for the first question in Tableau Desktop I renamed the worksheet as “1”. This allowed me to easily navigate back to my answers in case I required to review or have an extra thought about them. Do this to all worksheets you open during your exam.
As I navigated through my exam I realized that the difficult level of questions varies a lot. This means that your first question may be the hardest one so don’t panic if you get stuck there. Go to next one to gain some confidence and only return to the difficult questions when you feel you are ready.
Tip 5: During the exam you may need to connect to several different datasources. I opted to open individual Tableau Desktop windows for each specific datasource. This helped me to avoid being the wrong place to answer a specific question. The laptops provided were super fast and opening several Tableau windows didn’t cause any performance issue.
I really took my time to answer each question, even the easiest ones. When I looked the timer for the first time I had left 1h10 minutes and I was still in question 13. So I had to speed it up a bit.
Tip 6: Tableau Desktop certificate will require you to answer 36 questions. Keep an eye on the clock and try to get at least half of the questions done before the first hour finishes. As you feel more confident after getting some answers done the 2nd half of the test tend to be faster.
The exam will require you to build some calculated fields, split fields, use reference lines, but it will also ask you about specific screen features of Tableau. To answer these GUI feature questions I also opted to create a visualization that I could use to get to the feature itself. Then the answer was obvious.
Tip 7: When creating new fields (by split of calculations) be sure to give these fields good and clear names. I normally do this when using Tableau anyway, so it was just following my own best practices.
After 1h45 I was almost done with the questions that I was able to find answers. So I was able to return to the questions I flagged as pending (tip 2) and used the spare time to answer them. The very last question I wasn’t able at all to find the answer so I used Tableau to help me to discard the answers that were obviously not correct. I was then left with 2 possible answers and, with 10 seconds left, I picked the one that was more probable and I ended up getting that right.
Tip 8: It you get to a similar scenario, pick an answer and leave it pre-selected. This is because the system will not show the “Submit” button (that closes the test) until all questions have at least one answer selected. So in case you panic with 10 seconds remaining you can click Submit and your test will be over.
Your result will be displayed in the screen immediately after you finish. The only things I remember are that I found the word “Congratulations”, that I scored 96% out of 100% and that now I “can use the Tableau Desktop 10 Qualified Associate” on my business card (LOL)! I then picked all my stuff and silently left the test room. Some hours later the official certificate was delivered to my e-mail and I can now print as many copies of it!
For those taking the exam this Friday at Austin or anytime soon I hope this gives you a good path to be successful at it.
Tip 9: Tableau can be fun even while taking the exam. So try to enjoy the process because at the end you will only confirm that you know a lot about finding answers to data questions in Tableau.