I recently cleared “Tableau Desktop Specialist” certification exam.

Once I posted about this small achievement of mine on LinkedIn, many of my connections did message me up and asked me details about the exam and ways (in terms of reading material) to prepare and clear the exam.

I am writing this blog post to tell what all I did to prepare for the exam and how was my overall experience with the hope that people out there who are still planning to take up the certification might get a little insight and help from this post.

Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification was added into the list of Desktop certificates last year around September or October (not really sure but that’s when I started seeing people posting about it on LinkedIn) and is not to be confused with Desktop Qualified Associate.

So currently Tableau has three different certifications for Desktop:

Click on image to jump to Tableau’s Certification Page.

Desktop Specialist is easiest among all (atleast that’s what I believe until I clear Qualified Associate exam).

Where to start??

For each of the certification exams, Tableau recommends a “Exam Prep Guide”.

I had the habit of reading things topic by topic right from my school days and that’s what I tried in this case as well. Continuing the school/college habit, first thing I did was took a print out of the “Exam Prep Guide”of Desktop Specialist and put it up on my “Wall of thoughts”

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I went through each and every topic’s theory part and covered them in detail as I am little old school, I prefer to take a step back and first read things and then practise them on Tableau desktop.

So, if you have little hands on experience on Tableau, I would recommend that the Exam Prep Guide is the best place to start preparing for the certification. Although I wouldn’t also say that reading only these topics would make you clear the exam.

Along with theoretical understanding about how things are in Tableau, a good hands-on is equally mandatory. So take both the things hand by hand if you wish to clear the exam.

Where to find for reading material??

Tableau has its own “Online help” which is best in town source for sure and you certainly do not need any beginner-to-professional or 24 hours to Tableau certified tutorials (in my opinion and I wasted my money on few of them).

In the Online help, the Tableau team provides a great reading material which covers every feature and default functionality of Tableau Desktop (as far as I have seen).

If you are not avid reader and prefer to binge on videos over reading, then tableau has its own free Online Video Tutorial as well, which also covers most aspects about Tableau Desktop.

Also, in the Exam Prep Guide, there are couple of sample questions. The questions asked in the exam were relatively of similar level as of the sample questions.


On the day of exam:

Once you have click on exam link on the day of exam, you will be connected to an online proctor. The proctor will confirm below things:

  • You are alone in the room.
  • There aren’t any papers or textual material around you.
  • No applications are open on your desktop.
  • Check for your identification card issued by a government body.

Further, the proctor will also ask you to rotate the camera of your computer to check your vicinity. Once the proctor is done with the assigned duties, he/she will open the virtual machine for you to take up the exam. You will need to leave your video on all the time during the exam and the proctor will monitor you all the time.


Few other details:

  • Time Limit: 60 minutes
  • Question Format: Multiple choice, multiple response, hands-on
  • Number of Questions: 30
  • Scoring: Automatically scored; point value varies per question type with hands-on worth more Passing Score: 70%
  • Language(s) Offered: English
  • Delivery Platform: Windows Virtual Machine containing Tableau Desktop.

It’s an open book/browser exam, hence you are free to Google if you are stuck somewhere.

Also, you can go back and answer the questions and you do not need to answer questions in one go.


Things to watch out for:

  • Time allocated for the exam. (there will be timer in your virtual machine, which starts ticking as soon as exam is launched)
  • Your Internet connectivity and speed, since you will be connecting to a remote machine.
  • The language used to frame the questions. Take your time and read the questions very carefully, as they are framed to confuse you at times.


This is it. I hope my experience and the post helps atleast a few of you.

Do not forget to comment if this helps you or was informative and share with people who need insights about the certification. Also, your comments would encourage me and give me more confidence to write more things on my blog.

Happy Learning. Cheers!!


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