If you failed the Specialist exam this guide will give you suggestions on how to handle your disappointment and also how to retake it and pass next time! The Tableau Desktop Certification exam is designed to prove you’ve mastered the fundamentals of Tableau Desktop… not an easy feat. If it was easy to pass, it wouldn’t be a meaningful test of knowledge and skill.
3 Ways to Deal with the Disappointment
It’s normal and totally okay to feel disappointed if you’ve failed an exam. But don’t just stay stuck in that feeling and mope. If you’re feeling down, work to reframe how you think about the setback. Here are three suggestions for turning this disappointment into a positive:
#1 – It’s a Chance to Improve your Study Strategy
For example, one poster on reddit who failed the Specialist exam mentioned that he did training courses and practice tests, but had never actually created a visualization with Tableau Desktop or Tableau Public. The top commenter replied, “You won’t really learn Tableau until you put in the grunt work of creating and designing a big dashboard project completely by yourself.” So this was an opportunity for the person who failed to realize that he’d missed having hands-on practice. Maybe you did hands-on practice, but you neglected to do practice questions for some of the theoretical areas. In that case, you’d need to be able to explain the differences between discrete and continuous, between joins and relationships, and between extracts and live connections.
#2 – It’s a Chance to Understand Your Weak Areas
One good thing is that if you fail, Tableau will provide a score report that shows how well you did in each of the four domains. Which of the four areas gave you the most trouble?
- Connecting to & Preparing Data
- Exploring & Analyzing Data
- Sharing Insights
- Understanding Tableau Concepts
You may even be able to remember particular topics on the exam that you need to study. Or maybe you realize that you panicked during the exam and so ended up wasting time stuck on one question, and that next time you need to approach the exam with a different attitude.
#3 – It’s a Chance to Grow in Humility
Most people are tempted to look down on those who are less successful in whatever capacity – professional, personal, or moral. When you experience a failure, it can remind us not to look down on other people. It can remind us to be grateful for our successes.
I’d say failure has helped me with humility. I was fired from a job early in my career and found it to be painful and embarrassing. But I also found that the experience helped me to understand the pain of unemployment. And when talking to people who lost a job, I think I could relate to them better by sharing my own experience with unemployment.
St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “if we have not accepted humiliation, we will not learn humility.” So perhaps by accepting a failure on an exam we can learn a little humility.
Failing Because of a Technical Glitch
So far I’ve been assuming that you failed because you didn’t have the knowledge to answer enough of the questions correctly. But of course there’s a second reason you might have failed – you might have experienced a technical failure during the exam. Unfortunately, an unexpected internet outage can cause you to fail and it’s not grounds for a free retake. Your exam proctor may be able to call you and you may be able to get back into the exam, but an outage could also cause you to fail. Very frustrating, especially if you are paying the exam fee yourself!
But if there is a technical glitch with that’s the fault of the exam administrator (Pearson) then they will log a ticket on your behalf and if they agree it was their problem you should (eventually, hopefully) be able to get a free retake.
Preparing for a Retake
The Tableau FAQ explains the retake policy. If you fail on your first attempt you can register after 24 hours for a second attempt. The exam fee is the same each time, so you have to pay again for your second (or third, or forth!) attempt. Yes, it stinks to have to pay a second time. But if it made sense to pay the fee the first time, it probably makes sense to pay a second time.
But of course before you do your retake you should make sure you’re confident that you’ve got the knowledge to pass! Hopefully you’ve identified some weaknesses in your knowledge and come up with a new study plan. If you need hands-on experience, try Makeover Monday and Workout Wednesday. If you need the sort of multiple choice and multiple response questions that you’ll see on the exam, try these Tableau Specialist practice questions.
From Failure to Success
Failing the certification exam doesn’t mean you can’t get your Tableau Specialist Certification. All it means is that it will take a little more time, money, and effort than you expected. Get to it!