Learning #1: The Power of Blogs

First things first, what better way to prepare than to get advice from those that have gone before? The most useful that I came across were:

  • Louise’s blog is a great place to start, it has all the links you’ll need and explains the “why, how and what” super clearly!
  • Ellie’s blog has a great example of a “worst case scenario” of a bad connection. I found it really useful for preparing for that possibility
  • Bona has some useful tips of specifics to focus on
  • I loved Nicholas’ idea of numbering the worksheets Q1, Q2, etc. In the practise test, I even put a * after ones I wanted to come back to

The best thing is, with Google being allowed during the exam, I can call on any of these resources during the exam itself!

Fear #1: Running out of Time

Whilst I was able to finish all the questions for the practise exam within the 2 hours, it was definitely a little bit close for comfort! There were a few silly mistakes that I made (such as forgetting to filter the results to a specific year) that I know I would have caught if I’d had time to go through every question again.

I definitely need to get better at flagging the longer questions and coming back to them at the end. It worried me to be halfway through and only on question 13/36. I’m debating two strategies to help this:

  1. Do all the shorter knowledge based questions first to hopefully get some quick points under my belt. This will help me feel less pressure, as I would hopefully have more than half the questions done at the halfway point.
  2. Since the knowledge based questions are worth less points and may require a bit of googling, leave them until last. This way I make sure I focus on the meatier questions and would only expect myself to be perhaps a third of the way through at half time.

I’m still undecided at this point. Any advice would be welcome!

Learning #2: I’m Lazy

Ok, I already knew this, but seeing multiple people suggest you should open a new data source connection for every question filled me with horror. So, obviously, I was going to use my practise exam to see how much I could push NOT doing that.

(I will caveat that I understand that it’s definitely necessary to make new connections if you’ve been doing any joins/unions/blending on that data source. So better safe than sorry there!)

What I found useful was prefacing every calculated field with the question number, as below:

You can also see that I didn’t necessarily name them very obvious things either. I think I’m right in thinking that they only need to make sense to me, right? Since I’ve got a good short term memory, I’d rather give myself more time answering questions than creating good names. Not a habit I would endorse outside of the exam though, naturally.

Fear #2: Not being able to write or talk

I am 100% guilty of talking to myself. I tried my best to stay silent during the practise exam, but when it came to those difficultly worded questions, I just couldn’t help myself. My usual go to in situations where I can’t talk would be to write it down instead. Except I won’t be allowed to do that either!

I think it might be amusing for my proctor to watch my internal struggles…

Learning #3: Location, Location, Location

Have you ever had a dataset that had State as a field but then you get that annoying “unknown” message in the bottom right when you drag them into the view?

Well, if you click on that “unknown” box it will bring up the following options:

All you have to do is change the Country/Region to the US and your problem will be solved.

I’m sure it’s something we’ve learnt before, but I had completely forgotten all about it!

Fear #3: It’s got to be LODs

Despite my best efforts, I’m still yet to befriend LODs. I don’t have any horror stories of them tripping me up in the practise exam, but surely that just means they will try even harder in the real thing? My tactic is to flag the questions I think will require LODs and leave them until the end!

Wish me luck!
(picture from CoolClips.com)