Becoming an Alteryx Expert
I finally did it! After 4 attempts I passed my Expert Certification.
When I posted the exciting news on LinkedIn, there were a few questions from fellow Alteryx users on tips for passing the exam. I cannot go into any details of the exam, but along with the available references online and how I prepared I can hopefully give some insight into useful tips for taking the exam.
Benefits of taking the exam
I am going to start with my four attempts, I have shared this story with many but for me taking the Expert exam is a massive learning experience. Each of the times I’ve taken the exam (Inspire London 2018, Inspire London 2019, online pilot September 2020, online January 2021) I have come out of the exam a with more knowledge of the product, either by randomly discovering a new tool which is tested in the exam which I’ve not used previously or picking up a useful technique which I’ve then taken forward to apply in my day job. So I’ve never come out of the exam disappointed.
In total, at the time of writing, there are 30 people who have passed the Expert Exam since Jesse Clarke was the first person to gain the certification at Inspire US in 2018 (fun fact: Jesse is now an Alteryx employee, so has a new community account therefore there are 31 badges issued). What is tricky about the exam is that it can cover any area of Alteryx Designer so to either have the breadth of experience across the tool palettes but also the time pressure of being able to solve the four required questions within the time constraint.
The exam is now available on demand! Previously the only way to sit the exam was at an Inspire Conference which, unless you were able to travel to multiple conferences in a year, meant that you could only attempt the exam once per year. Now you can take it with a minimum of a two month gap between first and second (if you need it) sittings – it increases to three months between sitting 2 and 3.
So my first tip is going to be on exam technique and timing. The exam is three hours and the requirement to pass (I put it this way instead of pass mark) is to correctly answer four questions out of the seven provided. I put it this way, as marks are only awarded for successful completion of a question, with no partial credit, therefore there is not any benefit in answering all 7 questions unless you complete them. To undertake all seven questions, would require just under 26 minutes to be spent on each question. Compare this to answering the required four questions and being able to spend 45 minutes per question. Only answering four questions requires a huge amount of confidence on getting everything right, so the advice is to aim for one banker question (giving you 36 minutes per question).
At the start of the exam read through all of the questions, and decide which questions you are planning to take, and try to stick to that. If you get stuck on a question you need to make a quick decision to either stop and move onto a new question or preserve to get to a solution (remember you get no partial credit, so only completed questions will count). I learnt from this the hard way on my third sitting, I got myself stuck on a question but had probably spent about 20 minutes on it, which was too late. I decided to move on to another question but was now limited to under 20 minutes to solve a completely new question which unless you are really confident with it will likely need more than this, and therefore a better outcome might actually have been to press through on the original question to get to a solution.
My final tip is to try and use an external monitor if you can, this allowed in the exam as long as your laptop has the lid closed (ensure the power settings are not set to put the laptop to sleep after a set amount of time!!!). The exam is taken in a proctored environment where you are signed into a virtual desktop, so maximising screen real estate will enable to have as much on display at one time. I found it useful to have Designer on screen and then two other windows, one with the exam portal showing the current question and a second browser window to search for answers. This also minimises risks of navigating outside of the virtual environment (I realised I used Alt-Tab frequently to switch between windows).
Exam prep guide – this sets out the syllabus for the exam
Interactive lessons – If you haven’t already I would recommend going through all of the interactive lessons. Despite how well you think you know Designer, I bet you will pick up something new such as a hidden configuration or a quicker approach to something.
Sample workflows – the exam is open book, so you are allowed to make use of any resource that does not require you to login (exception to the login rule is Alteryx Community). Within Designer there are sample workflows which can be helpful to refer to if you are just missing a configuration during the exam. Before you sit the exam take a look through these, get familiar with what sample workflows are available as being able to quickly locate these in the exam will save you vital minutes.
So why not take the Expert exam, like I said earlier in this post I’ve learnt so much by taking them and it would be great to see more people sharing their story of how they’ve passed the Expert exam.