I recently took and passed the Tableau Desktop Specialist exam. In this blog post, I’ll walk through my top five tips to prepare you to ace the exam and include all of the resources that I used. I’ll also include bonus tips to take your skills to the next level. My hope is to set you up for long-term success with Tableau!

Before I dive into the tips and tricks, let me first share a little bit about this certification. Tableau Desktop Specialist is the first of two levels of certification that Tableau offers for Tableau Desktop. 

Level 1: Tableau Desktop Specialist

Level 2: Tableau Certified Data Analyst

Certifications provide a stamp of approval and demonstrate your product knowledge. They can help differentiate you from the crowd and validate your analytical skills. They provide you with tangible milestones to work towards, can be a great resume builder, or just give you some personal satisfaction. Now let’s dive into my top five tips for acing the exam!  


it's time to ace the tableau desktop specialist exam

Tableau website, Exam Prep Guide

Tip #1: Read the Exam Prep Guide

Start with reviewing the exam overview on the Tableau website. Make sure to download and read the Exam Prep Guide, which covers everything you need to know, including system requirements, topics covered, and sample questions. I used this throughout my exam preparation to continually highlight the skills I needed to brush up on. 

Bonus Tip: Read the Visual Analysis Best Practices guidebook to learn the best do’s and don’ts of data visualization according to Tableau. This will give you a foundation for good design principles from the very beginning of your Tableau journey. 



access this course to learn some of the best practices for passing the tableau desktop specialist exam

Tableau Specialist Certification Prep Course via Udemy

Tip #2: Learn from Experienced Tableau Users

This could take a variety of forms, such as talking with Tableau users at your workplace, reading blogs, or engaging with social media content. Because I enjoy learning through video format, I took the Tableau Specialist Certification Prep course on Udemy, created by Lukas Halim. This course contains 2.5 hours of video content, resources, a study guide, practice files, and three practice exams. Tableau has a wide user base often ready to share knowledge and insights!

Bonus Tip: Sign up for the Tableau Conference scheduled for November 2021. It is free and virtual again this year! Check their events page for additional details closer to the conference. 


access resources like kaggle and tableau public to get the best outcome when taking the tableau desktop specialist exam and ace the test

Kaggle, Tableau Public

Tip #3: Practice, Practice, Practice 

The best way to learn Tableau is through regular practice. Tableau recommends having at least three months of experience with the product before taking the exam. The main options for getting hands-on experience are through doing work or personal projects. The majority of my hands-on experience came through creating dashboards on Tableau Public, a free version of Tableau that you can use to create visualizations, upload to your profile, and share on the web. When you begin using Tableau Public, check out the Free How-to Videos for some help getting started with data visualization. They are very helpful for new users! When people first start using Tableau, they often wonder what data to use. Tableau Public has a variety of sample data from several industries available in their resources section. Peruse it and dive into something you find interesting and engaging. Here are some additional places you can browse for data sources: Kaggle; Google Dataset Search; Real World Fake Data; data.world

Bonus Tip: Participate in the weekly Workout Wednesday challenges. This is a great way to go beyond basic charts and graphs once you feel comfortable with the charts in the ‘Show Me’ section in Tableau. 


be prepared to be proctored when taking the tableau desktop specialist exam

Tip #4: Prepare for the Logistics

The exam guide will have all of the details about the required setup, so make sure to look over that section carefully. I took my exam virtually which was monitored live by a proctor and these were some of the basic requirements for the exam setup. 

You must be by yourself in a quiet room with your workspace clear (you will need to use your webcam to show the proctor the room).

Have a working webcam and microphone (no headsets or headphones allowed).

Show a photo ID.

I prepped my space the day before and got ready for ‘go time’ 15 minutes early!

Bonus tip: If you live with others, kindly let them know that you will be on ‘do not disturb’ mode and turn your phone off or on airplane mode to eliminate notifications during the exam.


Join the Twin Cities Tableau User Group for great resources

Tip #5: Join a Community 

Joining a Tableau community is a great way to meet really cool data people, learn new things, and get inspired. In fact, in one of the recent user group meetings I attended, they covered all of the available Tableau certifications and their benefits, which inspired me to start getting certified. If you are local to the Twin Cities, I recommend joining the Twin Cities Tableau User Group (TCTUG!). Take advantage of a Tableau User Group wherever you are in the world! 

Bonus tip: Go beyond just posting your work on Tableau Public and find ways to share your work with others. I regularly share my work on LinkedIn. Tableau is also known to have a very active community on Twitter. 


In summary, my biggest takeaways are to carefully review the exam guide, seek out some training, and practice, practice, practice. 

Best of luck! 


Summary of Resources: 

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