How to Prepare for the Tableau Certified Associate Exam

by Sarah Jellenc

I passed the Tableau Certified Associate exam over the weekend (woohoo!), and I wanted to share a bit about the exam and what I did to prepare. One thing to note is that this certification was previously called “Qualified Associate,” so this may be how people refer to it as you’re searching for prep materials.

First, a bit about the testing conditions:

  • You need to take the exam alone in a quiet room with a good internet connection. The proctor will ask you to give them a 360 degree view of the room, and there should be no other papers or electronics around.
  • Have a government issued ID with you to show the proctor through your webcam.
  • Don’t use headphones, mumble to yourself, or cover your mouth during the exam. Make sure you stay in view of the webcam, as the proctor will be keeping an eye on you for the duration.
  • The proctor will guide you through a few minutes of connection speed testing and virtual environment setup before the exam begins.
  • Though you can’t talk  or write, you can open a Notepad in your virtual test environment if you like. You can also use Google, and utilise any websites that don’t have communication services like a chat.
  • You must be using a single monitor.

And the test itself:

  • It’s 2 hours long (excluding setup time at the beginning).
  • There are 36 questions; some are practical hands-on questions that can be answered by building charts or tables in Tableau, while the others are knowledge-based questions. The former are worth more.
  • Questions are all multiple choice, with some multiple-answer (“select all that apply”).
  • There is no penalty for incorrect answers, so guess away if you’re unsure.
  • There’s only one LOD question, and it’s a FIXED one (no INCLUDE or EXCLUDE).
  • You need to answer at least 75% of the questions correctly to pass.
  • There were several questions using the good ol’ Superstore data set, so it helps to be familiar with that. A few other unfamiliar data sets were involved as well, but they were straightforward enough.


  • I’d suggest flagging any question that takes more than a couple of minutes to come back to at the end. Run through all of the ones you’re comfortable with before returning to the trickier ones. There’s a lot of variance in how long the questions take to answer.
  • Open a new sheet and add a new data source for each question; some questions will require manipulation of data sets (joins, unions, etc.) that could trip you up if you’re not using a fresh data source. This also helps ensure you’re using the right data set for each question.
  • Some people suggest naming your sheets by question so you can easily return to them later (Q1, Q2, etc.). I personally wanted to come back to the trickier questions with fresh eyes, so I skipped this part and just created new sheets for them. You do you!
  • Make sure you understand how the data you’re working with is structured before you dive in, and make sure you understand the wording of the questions. They can be a little bit confusing, and it helps to break them into parts to make sure you understand exactly what they’re asking.

Resources I found most useful:

Tableau’s exam prep guide: I read the Tableau Starter Kit and Help pages for each of the topics listed, and dove a little deeper into anything I wasn’t totally confident about yet.

Mock exams from I paid for both practice exams but found them really helpful as they come with detailed, step-by-step answers to each question.

The cohort analysis example in this blog from Bethany Lyons.

Tableau’s official training resources (videos here and starker kit here).

Additional resources:

This YouTube video on the online exam experience.

The Data School blog, of course. There are some great posts about exam prep from Jenny Martin, Bona Wang, Nicholas Bowskill, Ellie Mason, Louise Le, and others.


Sarah Bartlett’s blog

Louise Le’s blog

Points of Viz

Good luck!