Tableau Server Certified Associate Exam 2020 Review

Andrew Lang


Recently I had to re-take my server Qualified Associate (Certified Associate) exam, and I noted that there were some significant differences between the two exams (not surprising as there have been many revisions of Tableau Server since 2017/18).


So in the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d take a moment to go over some of the details of the exam, and the process I went through to revise the subject, as well as highlighting the areas that I think are worth paying close attention to if your thinking about taking this exam.

Some Details

First things first, some details about the exam, and who this is targeted towards. The exam is an hour and a half and consists of multiple-choice, and true/false questions. The exam is proctored’ so there will be someone watching as you take the exam, so you’ll need a room where you won't be disturbed and where there is nothing on the desk around you. You’ll also need to have some sort of ‘government-issued’ photo id.


You’ll also not be allowed any notes in the exam, but (at least at the time of writing) you will be allowed to use google and any public (non-password protected) website that doesn't have a chat feature.


While this makes the exam sound easy, the problem comes in the variety of content, and you will not have the time to google the answers to all the questions so be strategic in your use of googling.


This exam is not meant for the average user of tableau server, it is an exam for tableau server admins and will test more on the features of the server and its install and setup than on how you use and interact with tableau server.

How I prepared:

The first thing I did was to practice installing and setting up a training server, and running through the install process a couple of times if possible, I also made sure that I was aware of the minimum hardware requirements


The next thing I made sure to be aware of the processes involved in both the server and TSM (Tableau Services Manager) what they did, how many of each service are required and how they might be distributed across the topology of a multi-node server, though I would say you don't necessarily need to have set up a multi-node server in your revision.


The next area that I focused on was the administration side of the server, this included:

  • Setting up and options for configuring sites

  • How permissions work, interactions between site, project, and workbook level permissions

  • What users roles can do or not do, including all the variations of Creator, Explorer and Viewer License types.

  • Managing subscriptions, and views

Things new(-ish) to me:

The TSM is a feature that was not available last time that I took this exam, only introduced in the last two years, and while I have used it in the past couple of years it is something that is new and that I needed to look at closely, TSM includes both a web front end and a command-line interface.


One thing I hadn't really appreciated before revising for this exam is just how much could and couldn't be done through the web front end, it was a part of the service I had used less often than the CLI and the differences between the two interfaces for TSM was an area that I did find myself getting tripped upon.


The other area that I found myself getting tripped up on during revision and practice was the different services that make up tableau server and TSM, with TSM new services have been added and some processes have moved around a little, and keeping all these services in mind was tricky.

So some advice.

You need to know how to manage your server, and how permissions works, there are several questions that are scenarios around uploading, accessing and editing views under different permission conditions.


Go through the process of installing, managing, backing up, restoring, and uninstalling a server. Be aware of how licencing works and the commands and interfaces you will need to accomplish these tasks.


You need to make sure you have a good working knowledge of what processes run on the server, their minimum counts, and what they do.


Finally, make sure you are reading through and ticking off the points in the exam guide, if you don't know the details of a section, then focus in on that, or at least know how to get information on that subject quickly, the support pages on the tableau site can be a lifesaver in the exam but it's best to rely on searching for answers as little as possible.


So that's how and what I prepared for the exam, and some advice for those of you taking the exam. Good Luck!


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