Preparing for the Tableau Server CA Exam

I recently took the Tableau Server Certified Associate exam (until recently called the ‘Qualified Associate’ or ‘QA’ exam) and thought it would be useful to share some notes about the experience for others who may also be getting started with Tableau Server certification.

Overview

Similar to other Tableau exams, the Server CA exam is proctored online via Loyalist Exam Services (https://tableau.lcsexams.com/).  The exam is 90 minutes long, though you should allow for additional setup and reading time at the start, and is automatically marked, which means you receive the result immediately at the end of the exam.  The pass score is 75%.

The exam consists of 80 questions, all of which are one of three formats:

  • Multiple choice – pick one correct answer from a list of four options
  • Multiple choice – select all correct answers that apply from a list of four options
  • True or False – a statement is presented to which you must answer if it is either True or False

You can skip over questions if you wish and are able to flag questions to return to.  In terms of timing, I didn’t have a lot of spare time at the end so had little opportunity to go back and review questions.

The exam is based on the Windows version of Server (not the Linux version).

All the above is correct at the time of writing (April 2019), but check the Tableau exam guide for the latest information.

Preparation

From the exam guide you can see that there is a lot of theory to cover for this exam.  Everything from Topology to Server Processes to Authentication and Permissions and plenty in between. 

The PDF version of the official server guide is also quite daunting at more than 1,500 pages (!), not that the whole guide is required reading but I did use it as a resource to lookup information.

My approach was to copy the topic headings from the exam guide into a document, then work through different online help resources to find out what I could for each section and make notes against each one.  This serves two purposes: one is obviously to learn the material, but secondly to become familiar with the different online help resources and how they are structured, which I found very helpful during the exam.

During the Exam

It’s worth noting that, during the exam, you have access to public, online resources (such as Tableau’s online help pages) as long as anything you access is from within the virtual machine that the exam takes place on – i.e. you can’t open up a web browser from your local machine to search help, so you don’t have access to any local bookmarks etc.

With 80 questions in 90 minutes, you only have just over a minute per question, so – for those questions where I needed to confirm something – being familiar with the online help and being able to search quickly really helped.

The only other advice I would give is to keep moving through the questions as you don’t want to use a lot of time on one question and then run out of time towards the end.

Summary

I found the Server CA exam a challenging but also very rewarding experience. Working through the exam guide forced me to dig into and learn about many different areas of Tableau that I had never looked at before and I feel this has given me a much better understanding and appreciation of the product as a whole.

Tableau Digital Badges

Tableau recently partnered with https://info.credly.com/ to issue digital badges, which “enables you to share your abilities online in a way that is simple, trusted and can be easily verified in real time”. Here’s a link to my Server CA badge.

Help Resources:

Important: the above Tableau resources will obviously be updated over time as new versions of the product are released so be sure to check the certification home page to ensure you have the latest versions and links.

Feel free to leave any other resources you may know of in the comments below, and if you are taking the exam – best of luck!

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