Last week, I sat the Alteryx Designer Core Certification and finally passed. I didn’t pass on my first attempt and did actually struggle to wrap my head around Alteryx and all of these tools and processes. I can certainly say that I’ve learned a lot about myself through my attempts of taking the exam. Most of all, my confidence in knowing what to use when has increased which surprised me.
After posting about passing, I received a lot of messages from others on how they should prepare and how to start their Alteryx learning journey. This blog post should answer just that.
There are many blogs and resources out there already but this blog post by Louise Le on how to prepare for your Alteryx Designer Core exam is incredibly useful and you can access it below:
I have to stress that these are just tips from me about what worked and didn’t in my situation. We all have our own learning styles so feel free to take these tips and adapt them accordingly.
It’s okay if you don’t pass. Use failure as your learning opportunity
- Firstly, you’ll need Alteryx designer installed. You can download the free trial version at most but I highly recommend getting it because consistency is key in your learning journey
- Taking the exam is free. It’s 2 hours long, multiple-choice and open book. There are 80 questions in total with 7 practical questions where data is provided, and you must answer the given question
- You need 80% to pass. I got 79.5% on my second attempt and although I was a little bit annoyed, I realised that I made massive amounts of progress since my first attempt and gained lots of confidence
- You can find the tools being assessed, more information and some practise questions in the prep guide provided: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/ayx.policies/Core+Certification+Exam+Prep+Guide.pdf
- Having so much time and the ability to google was a huge sigh of relief to me at first but I ran out of it and panicked many times. Remember that practical questions are worth 3 marks each, so you do need to be confident enough to do these with ease
- I learned that people grasp Alteryx in different ways and at their own pace. If you pass in your first attempt – that’s amazing and a big well done to you. However, I can’t stress enough that It’s okay if you don’t pass, just make sure you use every failure as a learning opportunity. You’ll be given a breakdown of areas where you didn’t score so highly which is helpful. What I also did was make a quick note of certain things on paper to remind myself to revisit it
Join the community and get involved
- You can do this by going to community.alteryx.com
- Joining the community allowed me to access many different resources, my personal favourite being the interactive lessons which you can access here: https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Interactive-Lessons/tkb-p/interactive-lessons
- What also really helped me was participating in the weekly challenges which you can access through this link: https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Weekly-Challenge/Weekly-Challenge-Index-amp-Welcome/td-p/48275
- With these challenges, I highly recommend giving it your best shot and then having a peek at solutions if need be. Just ensure that you can understand the way in which they got to the outcome and where you may have got stuck
- I can’t stress that the best way to pass the exam is to become confident and you can only do this by familiarising yourself with the tools
- The videos attached below in further resources are also helpful. I watched them all and had a go at the practise questions at the end. They help you with exam technique also
Don’t overdo your notes
- For my first attempt, I went through the help section for each tool and made my own summary notes – https://help.alteryx.com/current/designer/tools
- This started off as a good idea but, I overdid the notes and didn’t actually need them all and instead end up using the help and Ctrl + F instead
- Make notes if you want, but on little things rather than everything. The help section is your notes, and use it wisely
- When you click or hover over the tools in Alteryx, it allows you to look at use case examples. A tool that confused me for a very long time was the Unique tool. I didn’t understand it entirely until I went through the example workflow. It’s explained very simply – I highly recommend spending some time exploring these workflows
- Regarding the Unique tool, I got quite a few questions on this and I spent far too long on it so if you can master a unique on multiple columns, you’re doing amazing already
- I struggled to wrap my head around the way the tools worked. Some of the questions in the exam wanted you to look at a given input and figure what tool(s) allowed it to get to its output. Now how would you approach this?
- If you have time and you’re unsure, just re-create this!
- WARNING: you don’t have enough time to re-create everything. Therefore, the best way to pass is to gain confidence using the tools enough to know answers to the basic questions such as Joins and Unions, Unique etc
- This might sound silly but worked for me. With Joins, I automatically noticed at first that the 2 inputs combined made it wider. With unions, the tool itself looks like a spiral DNA. Now, un-spiral that DNA – it becomes a ladder. Ladders are long and therefore, the data stacks upon one another and so you get an output with fewer columns and more rows – so, longer
- I tried to answer all of the non-practical questions and leave the practical ones to the end – don’t do this. They’re worth many marks and this could have been the difference with my .5%
- Don’t overthink the questions. You can flag and return to them if need be
- Get yourself a mentor or friend to talk through things. This helped my confidence and made me realise that a lot of my errors occurred due to panicking and not reading the question correctly. Common errors that are easy to make are data types and if you have the wrong one, you won’t get the configuration options much later in tools such as Summarize or Filter
- Break the questions down! Think about each logical step. This applies mostly for the practicals, which are do-able. When you get a question, look at the data and the way that it is structured, read the question properly and break down the steps you think are involved. Be sure to filter to the relevant columns first to make things much easier. Have you checked the data types? Does it need a date-time conversion? Really simple things as such did catch me out and I became better after I started tackling the questions step by step
Finally, the best way to learn what you need to go over is by taking the exam when you’re ready, and well, fail (or pass). Give it your best shot. This is no quick answer to the questions I received. But as I said, this was my experience and I hope that others can learn from my mistakes and even the tips I picked up along the way and become more confident with Alteryx themselves. Good luck!
Further Resources / List
4 part series of videos on preparation for the Core Certification
Designer Cheat Sheet
Help for Alteryx tools
Alteryx Weekly Challenges
Core Certification Prep Guide