So you’ve experimented with some of the tools in Designer and now you’re thinking of taking the Core exam. Just before you do, here are my top tips and a few insights from my own experience that will hopefully help you do the best that you can on exam day.
It’s okay if you don’t pass the first time.
The Core exam is free to take, and you can take it as many times as you like until you pass. Also, your final passing mark and your number of attempts won’t be stated on your certificate. The exam is designed with learning in mind i.e. even if you don’t pass, the detailed breakdown of your performance at the end will show you where your knowledge gaps are. What I’m essentially saying is that you don’t need to put undue pressure on yourself.
Make your own cheat sheet in advance
The exam is open book, that means you can have Alteryx open whilst you take the exam to test out solutions. You also have the power of google on your side. However, this doesn’t mean that you have time to google everything. Generally, you have approximately 1 minute per mark, so having all your knowledge in one document is ideal. This prevents you from frantically searching for the correct information and having 100 tabs open at once! Also, making the cheat sheet in itself is a great form of revision, I compiled mine using notes from:
- The Core Prep Guide and Practice exam: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/ayx.policies/Core+Certification+Exam+Prep+Guide.pdf these detail the structure of the exam and have some practice questions, showing you what the interface will look like.
- The Core Prep Videos - these are definitely worth the watch, and provide a comprehensive guide to the majority of the tools on the exam.
- Tool Mastery and Help Documentation - these are great for explaining how the tools work and their common errors.
- The tool examples - these can be found by right clicking on any tool in your toolbar. These are especially helpful as they put each tool in context, telling you their possibilities, but also their limitations.
- The Alteryx Functions page - https://help.alteryx.com/current/designer/functions you want to minimise anything that may induce panic e.g. being tasked with using a formula you’ve never seen before. You don’t need to make notes about every formula, just the ones that you’re not confident on. I knew that I had very little experience with date conversion, so I spent a bit of time looking at the date formulae and their syntax.
It’s not enough to know how each tool works in isolation
What Alteryx is essentially trying to test is how comprehensive your knowledge of their product is. For example, you may know how to configure a join tool, but do you know when to choose it as opposed to a Find and Replace? Learning the theory behind how particular tools work is essential for being able to distinguish which tools yield which outcomes. On the same note, the exam is also testing your understanding of the wider environment in which Alteryx works. Therefore, it’s useful to brush up on things like file types and data types.
Go into the exam prepared
As the exam is open book, I had my cheat sheet up in advance. I also had Alteryx opened with a couple of datasets that I knew well. This helped me test out different tool configurations whenever I was unsure about the answer. Also, there is some documentation that is just useful to have up for reference e.g. the Alteryx file types page.
The text input tool is a life-saver
Often you’ll be given an input and be asked how an output was created. Sometimes it is useful to create a mock data-set using the text input to try out different solutions. This especially helped me visualise questions on transpose/crosstab etc. However, use this with caution and only when you’re really stuck, given that some of the questions are 1 mark and therefore, should be done in 1 minute.
Do weekly challenges and other ways of practicing workflows
The practical questions usually require other tools, in addition to the primary tool that the question is focussed on. Therefore, being able to build flows quickly is essential. This only comes with practice, the weekly challenges are often obscure and ‘exam-like’ in that they pose questions that you wouldn’t normally encounter.
So that’s it! I hope these tips help you in preparation for your exam and good luck!