Preparing for the Tableau Certified Associate Consultant Exam (a Tableau Partner requirement)

Recently I took the Tableau Partner Certified Associate Consultant exam, which is a required exam for Tableau Partners. The company I work for, HealthDataViz, has been a Tableau Partner for a number of years and with the new requirements, three of our employees needed to take the Consultant exam.

The Consultant exam tests you on your ability to identify customer needs, your knowledge on how to build and present data in charts, your expertise in data visualization best practices, your knowledge on the various products within Tableau’s platform, and your ability to implement and deploy visualizations.

In case you were wondering… Yes, I passed the exam, which is why I’m here to share some information that hopefully will help you prepare for this exam and my recommendations to succeed in each domain within the test.

*Note that these are my thoughts and recommendations and are not endorsed or approved by Tableau, and are not the thoughts or recommendations of my employer. These are solely my opinions.

The Structure

The Tableau Consultant exam is proctored, which means you will log into an external site where you will connect to a proctor who will monitor you via webcam and microphone during the entire exam. There will be time to get set up with the proctor before your actual exam clock starts. You are required to be alone in a quiet room without interruptions. Your desk must be clear and you may not talk or leave your desk during the test. Here are some additional key details to know about the exam.

Time Limit: 90 minutes

Question Format: Multiple choice, multiple response

Number of Questions: 55

Passing Score Required: 750

Set Up: Closed book. You cannot use the internet or Tableau to answer the questions. This is particularly important for calculations as you must know how the calculations operate and their syntax without looking at Tableau Desktop.

My Recommendation: As with all Tableau exams, during the test you can flag questions to return to at a later point in time. I suggest going through and making an attempt to answer as many as you can. If you can’t get the answer within 30 seconds to a minute, or you are between two answers, flag the question and move on. I was able to get through all 55 questions within an hour and flagged around 20 of the questions to return to. I spent the last 30 minutes going back through those questions.

Exam Content

According to the exam guide, the test covers 5 domains. The majority of the questions you are tested are on the planning and implementation of calculations in Tableau Desktop, which you can see based on the percentage breakdown that Tableau provides.

Domain 1: Perform Discovery and Determine Scope = 6%

This section test your ability to recommend appropriate analytics delivery methods given a particular client scenario. You may also be asked to recommend Tableau roles based on a use case (such as should someone be given Creator or Viewer roles).

My Recommendation: Review the various Tableau products and know what they are capable of. This includes Tableau Public, Tableau Server, and Tableau Online as well as the different subscriptions available and what they each include. Review Explore, Creator, Viewer subscriptions as well as the differences between Tableau Desktop, Web Edit, Tableau Prep, Prep Conductor, Ask Data, and Data Catalog. You need some minimal information about what these products are and basically what they do. I wouldn’t spend too much time here, but definitely give the products a quick review. You may get 2-3 questions on this. I had a question about the Data Catalog and had never read up about that product. Luckily a later question alluded me to what it was, so I was able to answer the question.

Domain 2: Evaluate, Prepare, and Connect Data = 25%

This section is the second largest portion of the exam and focuses on data connections (think questions like “when should you use an extract”), what products to recommend, evaluate data structures and transform data (such as pivots or adjusting metadata), and how to share data and implement data source governance (how to use published data sources).

My Recommendation: Review information about Tableau extracts vs. live connections and when to use each. Know what types of data Tableau can connect to depending on the product and what changes can be made in the metadata layer such as pivots, renaming, and changing field types. Understand how joins work such as what will be the resulting output from a sample of two tables and a specific join type. Be aware that the questions are worded strangely, in my opinion, and often aren’t very clear. I found this very difficult. For example, one question showed me two tables and asked when type of join I should use to get a specific output. However, the question didn’t tell me which table was on the left vs. right and didn’t specify if I wanted to keep or include the rows that didn’t match up. So I had to assume the top table in the question was going to be on the left and the bottom one on the right. Then I assumed they didn’t want the mismatches, so while I opted for an inner join, the way the question was worded could have also been a right join. So just be aware some questions could be tricky and may leave you with more questions than answers.

Domain 3: Design and Develop Dashboards = 23%

This section is another large portion of the exam and focuses on implementing basic best practices for workbooks for performance as well as visual cues and chart types. Questions that fall into this section often had images to review or you were required to identify the best method of interactivity.

My Recommendation: This is a section that should be relatively easy if you use Tableau often. If you are in the tool, you likely know to create and change charts. The best way to study for this section is likely to make some simple charts and ensure you know what happens when you move things around. Be sure you know the “right” chart for the data. Such as know when to use a scatterplot vs. a bar chart vs. a dot plot vs. a line chart. Additionally, I would review the Tableau whitepapers on best practices if you need a refresher.

Domain 4: Plan and Implement Calculations in Tableau Desktop = 38%

This section is the largest in regards to questions and points. I would spend the most time studying here. You will be tested on various calculations such as date, logical, aggregate, basic string/integer calculations, quick table calculations and LOD expressions.

My Recommendation: Review all common calculation formats (I’d review each calculation type here) and the syntax for each. This is probably most important to do for ones you don’t commonly use (check out the Date and String functions). If you don’t use string functions such as SPLIT(), MID(), or FIND(), then I would definitely review them. Review the three types of LOD (level of detail) calculations: EXCLUDE, INCLUDE, and FIXED, when to use them and how to use them. Lastly, I’d suggest refreshing your knowledge of Table Calculations as well as understanding (and being able to identify) the direction the table calc is running in a view (Table down, Pane across, Table across then down, etc.).

Domain 5: Publish, Education, and Enable = 8%

The section tests your knowledge on investigating server usage and publishing a dashboard. Here is where you should know the difference between the types of server used and how permissions work.

My Recommendation: There will be a few questions in this section, so I would suggest reviewing server permission information as well as how permissions affect publishing abilities. Know how projects work and how to provide access to various users or groups to such projects. Because you are likely to only get a few questions here (maybe 2-3), I wouldn’t spend too much time studying for this part, but ensure you understand the basics about server publishing and permissions, especially if it’s something you don’t do regularly, like me.

Summary

I didn’t study all that much for the exam, but reviewed the parts I mentioned in my recommendations above. If you have a solid understanding of Tableau and have used it for awhile, I think you will be just fine. As I mentioned at the beginning, I suggest reviewing data connections, calculations, the Tableau products, server permissions, and visualization best practices a few days before your exam at a minimum.

On the day of the exam, clean your office space and ensure that nothing is on or around your desk. You don’t want to be doing this right when you sign on to the proctoring service and realize you can’t start until you give it a good clean. Be prepared to use only one monitor. Since I have a laptop with a webcam and a larger monitor, I was only allowed to use my little laptop since it had to be open for the webcam. They will not allow you to use your monitor with your laptop screen blanked out. I even had to turn my monitor around towards the wall and unplug it.

Given the current state of things, if people are normally also in your home, be sure they can either be out of the home while you take the test or at least know not to interrupt you. I also suggest you get your animals out too. Towards the end of my exam, my dog started whining because he wanted out of my office, but since. I wasn’t able to leave my seat to let him out I told him to “be quiet” as he was distracting – not surprisingly, the proctor asked if I had anyone in the room and had me show her it was just my dog that I was trying to make shut up. LOL.

Overall, the exam wasn’t terribly difficult, but I did think the questions were often poorly written and there were times that I thought information should have been clearer as there was a bit of ambiguity that wasn’t a part of the question, but impacted the possible answers. So read closely and take your time with some of the trickier questions. In the end, give it your best guess and hit submit before your time runs out!

As always, if you have questions about the exam feel free to reach out. I hope you do well and that this post was helpful!

Cheers,

Lindsay

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