Guest Post: Prepping for the Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate Exam

Claire Smith


I have only had a few guest posts on my site (one was from my old buddy, Ken Black, a few years back). However, what Claire Smith has been doing in her preparation for the Tableau Desktop Associates Exam is truly amazing. I asked Claire to write a blog post on her prep and am featuring her as a guest blogger today on my site.

Claire Smith is a Data Analyst with the City of Glendale, Arizona. She has worked for the City’s IT department for over five years during which time she fell in love with the world of IT and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology so she could pursue a career in data analytics. Claire was first introduced to Tableau in June of 2017 and hasn’t looked back since. Tableau is truly a grassroots movement within the City and Claire is passionate about growing the community within our organization. She believes in empowering others to ask questions, and teaching them how to answer with insight and integrity.

I think you will find Claire’s guest blog post extremely helpful in your preparation for the exam.

Best regards,


Claire Smith: Prepping for the Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate Exam – The Do’s and Don’ts of Self-Study!

I must preface this by stating: I have not yet taken the Tableau Desktop Qualified Associates Exam!  My guest appearance here on DataVizBlog will have two parts. This first part outlines the steps I’ve taken to prepare for the Desktop QA Exam, and some do’s and don’ts I learned along the way. The second part will be featured after my upcoming trip to Tableau Conference 2018 in New Orleans!  It will either be filled with the joy of triumph! Or the crushing blow of defeat… (though I’m confident it will be the former 😊).

The Fundamentals

I was fortunate to start my Tableau journey by attending the Desktop Classroom training internally which was taught by Tableau Software (both the Fundamentals class and Intermediate class). I have also taught several Tableau for Beginners courses in my organization; which have helped me hone my skills and gain confidence in the tools.  While I believe that this foundation of training will help me with the exam, it is not required to get certified.

As recommended on the Tableau Certifications website, you should have at least five months experience working in Tableau. If your experience with Tableau has been limited to developing a few chart types, or Googling all your calculated fields, you will need to watch the training videos offered on the Tableau website. Self-studying for this exam is completely doable, but to get the most out of the resources and practice exams, you have to be able to understand (and replicate) the solutions being demonstrated.

Self-studying for this exam is completely doable, but to get the most out of the resources and practice exams, you have to be able to understand (and replicate) the solutions being demonstrated.

My First Practice Exam

Yikes…… Nothing makes you feel quite as inadequate as opening your first practice quiz and seeing:

“Create a trend line for profit as a linear function of sales. What is the R^2 value?”

….. I’m sorry, what??

As it turns out, jumping straight in to a practice exam so you can prove to yourself you have the chops tends to have the opposite effect 😊.  So, where to begin?

The Do’s and Don’ts of Self-Study

DO Practice, practice, practice! You’ll start to see patterns to the questions and become comfortable applying one solution to multiple data sets and scenarios.

DO Start a document for your notes! I came across calculated fields, solutions, or simple tricks that I noticed I was using repeatedly. I kept notes with screen shots and plan on using this document as my last-minute study guide before the exam.

DO Prepare to spend a little money. In my top 5 recommendations below, you’ll see I did buy a short course and some practice exams. However, in all, I spent less than $50 dollars.

DON’T Spend a bunch of time on rote memorization. All the knowledge-based questions come from Tableau’s Online Help site; which you have access to during the exam!

DON’T Spend more than 10 minutes on a question in the practice exams. I found myself getting frustrated when I couldn’t get to a solution.  Just make a guess and when you review the solution guide at the end, I promise the answer will be simpler than you made it out to be! (Any other over-thinkers out there?) 😊.

My Top 5 Recommended Resources

You’ll find lots of resources, exams, videos, and blogs as you begin scouring the internet for practice material. After trudging through a good majority of them, here are my top 5 resources:

  1. DQA Preparation Viz, by Paula Muñoz – Would any “Top 5” list about Tableau be complete without a recommended viz?! I think not 😊. Tableau Public Featured Author, Paula Muñoz, created an awesome dashboard full of resources! Please check it out, as it contains a lot more information than I’m outlining here!
  2. – I found a relatively inexpensive course on called Tableau Qualified Associate Certification in 60 minutes. At the time I purchased it, the course was on sale for $12 dollars. At the end of the course, the instructor mentioned his website ( where he had two more full length practice exams. He charges a nominal monthly membership fee that can be cancelled at any time. His basic membership for Udemy students was $5 a month, which just includes the content and practice exams I didn’t have available from Udemy. The membership to this website is well worth it! The tips and tricks I’ve learned from his video solutions guides have been invaluable! Feel free to skip the Udemy course and just pay for his upgraded membership to get all the material (including the course) in one place. Either way, this was one of the best instructors I found, and I was able to apply the techniques to multiple practice exams I took afterward.
    • Option 1Udemy course, and basic subscription at for other exams.
    • Option 2 – Skip the Udemy course (especially if it’s not on sale) and pay for upgraded membership to get all material in one place at
  3. The Tableau Certification Challenge – Free to sign up! You register for the challenge on the website and are sent practice questions and data sets to your email for 4 weeks.  These were creative little brain teasers that helped me apply what I’d learned to new datasets and new problems.
  4. Top 15 LOD Expressions – This was blog post on Tableau’s website back in April 2015 by Bethany Lyons. Level of Detail (LOD) questions are popular on the exam and are often very wordy. I highly recommend reading through this Tableau Blog post and creating your own workbook so you can follow the how-to instructions.
  5. – The quizzes are short, usually 3-5 questions, and all have a step-by-step solutions guide. After going through all the free quizzes, I bought the two full-length practice exams. These cost a total of $18 if you use the discount code found on the website.

I hope you find some of this information useful in your own studies, and best of luck!  I’ll be back here in a few short weeks to share my experience tackling the exam!


Note from Michael: Another source of information is this Biztory blog post, How to ace the Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate Exam. Here is a link to the post.

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