Hi. I'm Lisa.

Thanks for reading my blog. I share thoughts and information about things I am learning in the field of data and technology. I also share experiences from my work and side projects. I hope that my willingness to share my work, inspires you to share yours!

Preparing for the Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification Exam

Preparing for the Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification Exam

You may be able to relate to my routine: Every day I check my Twitter feed and am blown away by the Tableau community’s ability to visualize data in the most unique and powerful ways. Many of the vizzes that go viral incorporate the latest in new features—from transparent worksheet backgrounds to the incredible power of dashboard set actions. These new features are not only exciting but serve as a motivator for me to embrace those Tableau basics such Level of Detail Expressions and calculated fields. Mastering Tableau basics like these helps me build a solid foundation so that I can fully understand how to use these new features correctly. For instance, it is a little hard to understand set actions if you have never created a set.

Taking the Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification Exam seemed like the most logical way to test my basic Tableau knowledge and skills.

Here are the top resources that I used when studying for the Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification Exam

General Online Resources

  1. Tableau Exam Prep Guide There is no substitute for studying the skills measured in this comprehensive guide provided by Tableau. Keep referring back to this guide to help keep yourself on track in the study process.

  2. Overview of Tableau Basic Concepts A helpful step-by-step hands-on exercise that guides you in building a data story that includes using LOD Expression and calculated fields.

  3. Tutorialspoint Tableau Tutorial A website that provides a topical index with tutorials covering many of the basic concepts you need to know.


  1. The Tableau Desktop Qualified Associate Exam Although this post is advice for the next level of certification, Tableau Ambassador, Sarah Bartlett, offers a lot in the way of practical steps on how to register to take the exam and what to expect. This advice is especially valuable if you have not ever taken a proctored online exam.

  2. LearningTableau.com Testimonial Lukas Halim’s testimonial includes exciting insight on how he felt the knowledge questions were just as challenging as those he found in the QA exam.

  3. “I Got Tableau Certified” Another testimonial for the next level up (QA), but incredibly helpful in the amount of detail it provides.

Video Tutorials

  1. Tableau Free Training Videos The mother lode of Tableau training videos. Nothing can replace watching these videos if you want to get a good understanding of each of the key concepts.

  2. Tableau Desktop Specialist Training by Manideep Yakkala A Tableau Conference session video recording that effectively explains each exam concept and demonstrates how they work in Tableau.

  3. Tableau Live Training Recordings Live training sign-ups with accessibility to past recording sessions. This training is complete and provides beginning and completed workbooks that you can download and use to create your own visualizations. Nothing beats this type of practical experience to build skills.


  1. Practical Tableau: 100 Tips, Tutorials, and Strategies from a Tableau Zen Master A complete and logically organized book written by Tableau Zen Master Ryan Sleeper with individual chapters dedicated to the full explanation and practical use of of basic and advanced features. The step-by-step how-to guides found in almost every chapter are easy to follow.

  2. Tableau 9.0 The Official Guide A well-written book that serves as a good beginner’s manual. If you are new to Tableau or a little rusty on the basic understanding of its features, start here.

  3. Communicating Data with Tableau A great overall hands-on introduction to Tableau by legendary Tableau expert and University of Washington Data Visualization Certification Instructor, Ben Jones, using examples that are easy to relate to and understand. Download the companion data sources and workbooks and follow the step-by-step instructions to build all of the most commonly used charts. Dashboards and story points are covered, too.

Practice Tests

  1. Tableau Exam Guide Sample Questions Answer these Sample Questions and then check the accuracy of your answers provided in the Solutions section below the questions. Keep taking this practice test until you get all of the answers correct and understand the concepts.

  2. LearningTableau.com A series of quizzes written by Lukas Halim providing realistic and challenging questions. I also bought a practice test that was helpful and ratcheted up the challenge level a notch or two.

  3. Tableau Magic quizzes A newer resource of a growing collection of quizzes centered around testing Tableau knowledge.

Next steps

My new goal is to study for the Tableau Qualified Associate Exam. I will keep referring back the study resources I used for the desktop specialist exam and plan to supplement these resources with one or more of the following:

Some random advice …

I see the value of learning Tableau keyboard shortcuts to breeze through some of the more mundane aspects of creating a visualization. This will help you save precious time during the exam.

If you work in a dual monitor environment, practice using just one screen or a split screen and get comfortable bouncing back and forth between Tableau workbooks and your browser to experience more of what it is like in the test environment.

If you don’t feel ready for the test, reschedule until you feel better prepared but commit to a personal deadline so that you can move on to your next Tableau challenge.

In conclusion …

After passing the Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification exam, I can confidently say that the test was a fair representation of the “skills measured” described in the study guide provided by Tableau, so be sure to keep referring back to the guide. I also see how easy it is to get some of the knowledge questions wrong—especially those multiple choice questions where you are asked to “check all answers that apply.” Questions can get tricky, even if you feel you are studied up. This didn’t bother me personally because for me the experience was more about learning Tableau at a deeper level than earning the certification.

What I do know is that studying for certification can help build confidence by strengthening knowledge and basic skills, but there is no substitute for spending time using the tool regularly. So ultimately, the goal of certification is to get in the habit of using Tableau for your work and/or passion projects so that you can whip up an impactful viz at a moment’s notice!

Good luck to everyone planning to take the exam!

Visualizing Variance

Visualizing Variance

War on Christmas Day

War on Christmas Day