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Tableau Desktop Specialist Exam (New Pattern – 2021)

Author: Ankit Chauhan


I recently completed the Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification (New Pattern), and I’d like to take a moment to discuss how I prepared, the study materials I used, and the types of questions you can expect.

If you’re also planning on taking the exam, I hope I’ll be able to help you by the end of this article!

Before talking about the Desktop Certification exam, let me give an overview of what Tableau is.

What is Tableau?

Data Visualization uses maps, graphs, charts, and other visual elements to depict a dataset or information. Data visualization aids in the comprehension of a dataset’s trend, insights, patterns, and other relationships.

Tableau is a data visualization tool for businesses that allows users to create interactive data visualizations in minutes using its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. Tableau enables easy movement between overall data sets and in-depth analytical data sets to draw smart conclusions.

Tableau also allows users to add colors, widths, depths, pictures, animations, and more to their tables. As a result, once complex data sets can now be easily understood and presented to external stakeholders.

The software is primarily used to extract business intelligence from massive amounts of data, including social media interaction, sales figures, or any other metric that could assist an organization or corporation make decisions.

Types of Tableau Certifications:

Tableau provides three separate Tableau Desktop Exams, each with a different difficulty level.

Types of Desktop Certifications:

  1. Tableau Desktop Specialist (Recommended experience: 3+ months)
  2. Tableau Desktop Certified Associate (Recommended experience: 5+ months)
  3. Tableau Desktop Certified Professional (Recommended experience: 12+ months)
Why Tableau Desktop Certification?

Tableau can assist in the transformation of data into usable business intelligence in jobs across all business functions. The popularity of Tableau and Tableau certification-related search patterns may be due to this, as well as the growing popularity of “Business Analyst” and “Data Analyst” type employment. So, if you’re looking to stand out in a sea of well-qualified data candidates, mastering Tableau can be one approach to do so.

Tableau recommends ~3 months of product exposure for the Tableau Desktop Specialist Exam, presenting this certification as the best option for beginners. According to Tableau, “The test is designed to assess basic functions and product comprehension.” Another important feature that persuaded me is that the Tableau Desktop Specialist certification does not have an expiration date. If you pass the exam once, you receive a lifelong certification.

Exam Format:

Image from:Microsoft Word – TableauDesktopSpecialist_Exam Guide.docx

The new Desktop Specialist Exam is given without using the Tableau Platform, the internet, or any other third-party programme.

There are two types of questions in the new Tableau Desktop Specialists format.

  • MCQs with only one correct answer.
  • MCQs with two or three correct answers. 

There are no hands-on questions in the new format.

If a question has one, two, or three right answers, it will be mentioned in the question itself, and if you select more than those options, it will simply not allow you to select.

There are a total of 45 questions, with 5 questions being unscored. However, because the unscored questions are not explicitly mentioned, you must approach each question as if it contains a score.

The Desktop Specialist exam has a passing score of 750 out of 1000. This is the Pearson Vue scoring method.

Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification Preparation

As mentioned earlier, Tableau recommends having at least 3-months of hands-on experience to take this exam. However, with the correct study materials, a “can-do” attitude, and the determination to learn independently, you could attempt the exam prior to this time. 

Tableau’s syllabus or study guide is right on point. I’ve tried to use it as a guide to writing down the type of questions I experienced and questions you can expect from this exam.

  1. Connecting to & Preparing Data – 25%
  1. Joins, Unions & Relationships – Definition, Differences, How to create one, Advantages over each other, On which layer it is created (Logical vs Physical Layer).
  2. Live & Extract – Differences, Advantages of live and extract connections, Options that you get while creating an extract, How to create one, Default connection, When to use them.
  3. Default Properties/Aggregations for Dimension as well as Measures.
  4. Different ways to change the datatype of a field (from data pane, from data source page).
  5. Types of data-types (Default hierarchies on which data-types)
  6. Different types of Geographical Roles. How to assign a geographical role, Can geographical roles be assigned to numeric or string fields.
  1.  Exploring & Analyzing Data – 35%
    1. Dual Axis chart vs Combined axis chart – Difference, How to create them, Minimum requirements to create them(Min. Dimension,Measure), When to use a Dual axis chart or a combined axis chart.
    2. Reference Lines – Ways to plot a reference line,  types of fields on which reference line can be applied to, what does a reference line indicate.
    3. Scatter Plot – Minimum requirements to create a scatter plot, Lines that can be added to a scatter plot.
    4. Everything in the Analytics Pane.
    5. Filters – Different types of filters, Order of operations of filters, Filter legends for discrete and continuous fields, Types of filter options present for Discrete and Continuous(range of values, special, etc).
    6. Context Filter – When to use a context filter and advantages of a context filter.
    7. Parameters – Definition, When is it useful to use a parameter, Difference between a parameter and a filter.
    8. Sorting – Different types of Sorting, Different methods to sort the viz.
    9. Table Calculations – Different types of Table Calculations, difference between addressing and partitioning.
    10. Aggregations – Default aggregations, aggregations for dimension and measure.
    11. Totals – Different ways to show totals on the sheet.
    12. Calculated fields – Options present while writing a calculation, what all can be added to a calculation (eg – parameter, sets,  etc).
    13. Groups & Sets – Different ways to create them, Different types, Difference between them.
    14. Stacked Bar Chart – How to create it.
    15. Histogram – what does BIN show in case of a Histogram, Minimum requirements to create a histogram.
  1. Sharing Insights – 25%
    1. Different steps to Bold/Italicize the Axis, Headers, Tooltips.
    2. Marks Card – Dragging a dimension or a continuous field  to the marks card, Read about all the options present in the marks card.
    3. Which charts are unaffected by Size Marks.
    4. Shapes – How to add non-default shapes in the viz, Which charts are unaffected by Shape Marks.
    5. Legends  – Options present in legends In case of dimension and filters, how to change the position of a legend in a Dashboard, Show and hide legends.
    6. Dashboards – Dashboard actions (Different ways to perform these actions), Dashboard Layouts, Dashboard Objects.
    7. Story/Story point – What all can be added to a story/story point, what is a story point.
    8. Exporting View – Different ways to Share a workbook (e.g. twbx as a PDF or an image, publish to Tableau Server), View and export underlying data, What all is saved in case of a .twbx format, Why do we need a .twbx file in a PDF format.
    9. Show me Option – What all parameters(No. Of Dimensions, Measures, Date fields, Geographical fields) can be seen in the show me option, Charts present in this option.
  1.  Understanding Tableau Concepts – 15%
    1. Dimension vs Measures – Information that these two contain, Difference between them should be well-understood.
    2. Discrete vs Continuous – Difference between them is very important, Difference between discrete date parts and discrete date values, Representation of Discrete and Continuous fields, Explain how a view’s aggregated measure changes when dimensions are introduced.
    3. Pills – Different types of Pills (Blues, Green, Red), What do these fields represent? 

Below are a few resources provided by Tableau to assist you in your preparation:

Additional Resources/Questions Dumps:


In a nutshell, even though Tableau requires 3+ months of experience, in my opinion, one can still clear the exam with under 3 months of practice on Tableau, provided a candidate’s dedicated determination and continuous hands-on practice. It took me around two months to prepare and pass the exam.

There have been a few significant changes in the new exam format compared to the previous renditions, including new topics such as Relationships and an increase in the number of theoretical components replacing once hands-on questions. The level or type of theoretical questions remains the same. 

The test will be straightforward if you practice regularly on Tableau, go through all of the resources/study material/ and practice tests provided by Tableau, and are able to recall numerous methods/steps to perform a specific task.


What is Tableau – Uses and Applications (intellipaat.com)

The Tableau Desktop Certification: Why You Should Care and How You Can Pass | by Byron Dolon | Towards Data Science

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