The Alteryx Core Certification: my experience and top tips

by Henry Coley-Fisher
Laptop and notepad
Photo by Nick Morrison / Unsplash

Last week I passed the Alteryx Designer Core certification at the first time of asking. I thought I’d take the time to write this post as I spent almost equal amounts of time worrying about the exam as I did preparing for it. My first tip is: Don’t do that!

There are many resources out there aimed at helping you to prepare for and pass the exam including two fantastic blog posts from Data Schoolers Alisha Dhillon and Louise Le which I thoroughly recommend reading. I won’t repeat the content of those posts here but I will offer some tips from my experience below.

Preparation materials

1.       Alteryx have made a prep guide which is incredibly helpful, following this guide will set you up for success:

https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/ayx.policies/Core+Certification+Exam+Prep+Guide.pdf

Within this pdf there are links to the following:

· Interactive Prep Guide – learning resources for all of the key tools which are assessed on the exam.

· Core Prep Video Series – four 1 hour long videos on the core tools and what to expect from the exam (more on this later)

· List of Alteryx weekly challenges – these are more challenging than the practical questions you will get in the exam but are a great resource.

· Practice Exam – 16 questions only, not a ‘full mock’ exam

2. The ‘Open Example’ link on each tool in Alteryx designer itself. Clicking these links will open up an example workflow demonstrating how the tool is used and is very helpful when first getting to grips with a new tool.

3. The ‘help’ button: Drag a tool onto the canvas in Designer and you will see the tool configuration pane pop up on the left hand side. Notice the little question mark – clicking this will take you to the Alteryx help page for this tool which can clear up confusion very quickly.

4. Alteryx weekly challenges: Try as many as you can that have the ‘basic’ tag. This is a great way to learn the tools and will help grow your confidence in designer.

General Exam Tips

There are 80 questions on the exam 73 are multiple choice and 7 practical questions that require you to download a dataset and create a workflow to find the answer. Keep in mind that some of the multiple choice questions are ‘select all that apply’ type questions where partial points are deducted for incorrect selections.

General tips:

· Have Alteryx designer open with some text input tools ready to go. This is very useful as you can quickly copy the data from a question and investigate which tool will give the required output.

· Be quick! Due to the format of the exam if you don’t immediately know the answer to a question flag it and move on. You can return to your flagged questions later.

· Although timing is tight, ensure you take enough time to read each question carefully. Whilst there aren’t any ‘trick questions’ as such there are subtleties to each tool and the questions are designed to test your knowledge of this.

Exam format and top tip from my experience

The format of the exam can catch people out. Many blog posts and resources advise that you tackle the practical questions first as these are worth more points.

Unfortunately this is not really a great use of your time as you’ll have to click through all questions one by one to find which ones are practical.

Remember: When viewing all questions there is no way to tell which ones are worth 3 points and which are worth 1. You can only see which ones you have flagged!

This is really important because you can easily waste time looking for the 3 point questions instead of answering the others. This is what I did for the first 5 minutes before giving up and taking a different approach. What worked for me and may do for others is the following:

· Work as quickly as you can, answering the exam questions in order.

· If you don’t immediately know an answer, flag the question and move on.

· The goal is to answer as many questions as possible to get to the practical questions, answer them well and have time at the end to return to your flagged questions.

For me this was the best solution as I flagged roughly 15 questions which I had time to complete after I’d gone through all questions and made certain that I had answered the 7 practical ones.

In the end it was a good test of my Alteryx abilities and I feel much more confident than I did at the start of my training.

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Henry Coley-Fisher