This week I decided to try my luck with the Tableau Certified Professional Exam. Sure the Exam Prep Guide recommends a year’s experience, but it’s generally my philosophy that you might as well give it a go!

“”What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?” 

― Erin Hanson

I find the Alteryx and Tableau exams a great way to identify gaps in my knowledge. They help to give me something to work towards and, of course, it’s always nice when you pass! I won’t find out whether I passed CP for 2-3 weeks, but either way it was a good experience. So let’s share some tips!

Timing

The exam is 3 hours long (plus time to set everything up with your proctor), which sounds like a long time, but honestly, it flies by! I must confess, I found it difficult keeping track of time. You have the countdown in the browser where your questions are listed and the time on the virtual machine, which is likely different to the time on your watch (due to different time zones).

My recommendation here would be to notice what time shows on the virtual machine when the exam officially begins and work off that. It’s much easier than flicking back to the browser (losing precious seconds you could be spending in Tableau!)

Structure

Section 1 – Redesigning charts – 15%

You’ll be given 3 different charts and asked to improve them. A great way to practice this is through Makeover Monday. Remember to ask yourself what works about the chart, what doesn’t work and then, finally, what would work better? I think the best thing to do here is pick a simple chart for the redesign.

“It should have been a bar chart.”

Section 2 – Technical Skills – 20%

Next, you’ll be asked to build 3 charts that demonstrate some technical skills. This could be anything from Blending, Cross database joins, Nested LODs, Top 10 filters with multiple dimensions etc. This is difficult to specifically prepare for, but I would say Workout Wednesday is good for discovering new techniques.

Section 3 – Dashboarding and a Story – 65%

Finally, you’ll be asked to build 4 worksheets that answer specific questions and then create an interactive dashboard from them. Once you’ve done this, you then need to make a story, either by tweaking these views, creating new ones or a mixture.

I didn’t have much experience of stories before I took the exam, but I found it useful to look at a few on Tableau Public and practise my own beforehand.

Think of stories as more static than dashboards, where you explain the insights to the user. The story should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

Strategy

Since Section 3 is worth the most marks, this is where I would recommend starting. Although, I would advise that you be careful that you don’t get carried away and spend too much time here! I was definitely guilty of this.

If I take it again, I will try to time-box myself a bit better. I would plan exactly how much time I should spend on each subsection and be strict about holding myself to that.

Good luck if you decide to take it!