If you’re interested in becoming Google AdWords certified you’ve come to the right place. As the Digital Marketing Manager of DOOR3 it was mandatory that I took and passed my AdWords certification exams in order to head up the company’s SEM practice. Last August I spent roughly a month’s time, mainly during evenings after work, prepping for the certification exams and eventually passing them with 95% accuracy. While it was admittedly difficult in the beginning to piece together all of the information I needed, I’m confident that anyone can replicate my success with the same tools and attitude. In this blog I will explain how I did it and give you all the tips and tricks you need to pass your own certification exams. With no further ado, let’s get started.
Certification Exam Background
In recent years, Google split its certification exam into two parts: one covering fundamentals of account management and the other a more advanced, specialized exam in one of 3 different areas. You must pass both to achieve certification. In order to pass the fundamentals exam you must attain a score of at least 85% while each of the advanced exams have different passing requirements. Each exam will contain roughly ~110 questions and you will be given 2 hours to complete them which will give you a little over 1 minute to answer each question. Each exam costs $50 so since you’ll need to take both the fundamentals exam and one advanced exam for certification, the total cost to you will be $100.
AdWords Certification Benefits
First and foremost, there are two different levels of certification - Individual and Company – and both have many benefits. As an individual preparing for the exam, you will improve your knowledge of AdWords fundamentals as well as showcase showcase specialized knowledge through your choice of advanced exam. Once qualified, you will also receive a certificate and can add your new qualified status to your resume thus making yourself more credible and marketable as an AdWords Account Manager. Additionally, passing the certification exams and maintaining a minimum 90-day average of ad spend you can attain certified partner status for your company, thus increasing visibility and driving new business. At the company certification level, Google also throws in the bonus of marketing support including the use of a Google Certified partner badge and entry into its Partner Search directory. In other words, it is very worthwhile to pursue certification.
Tips & Tricks for AdWords Certification Exams
1. Fully utilize the tools at your disposal.
This may sound obvious but in preparing for your AdWords Certification you should use ALL of the materials in the AdWords Certification Program Learning Center (and then some). This should be the first step you take in your preparation for the exam only after which you should proceed to next steps. You can easily see from the chart which lessons pertain to the exams you will take and you can review them all from this same page. Read the full text for the exams you’ll be taking in addition to watching the AdWords informational videos and actively taking notes to familiarize yourself with the material.
2. Practice makes perfect.
When I’m learning something new, I find that the information sticks in my mind much more successfully when I’m actively doing rather than passively reading texts or watching a video. Definitely read the texts and watch the available training videos but don’t forget to pause from time to time to actually test out the concepts you’re learning. The memory of setting up a campaign, grouping keywords, creating customized reports, etc. will be much more valuable to you come exam time than just rote memorization of the study materials. Setup a test account (free), look around and practice the strategies of managing an AdWords account. Just remember to keep your campaigns paused and you will be able to play around and familiarize yourself with the program as much as you like and not be charged one red cent.
3. Quiz Yourself.
It can be difficult to know how and what to study since Google itself does not provide any practice questions. After searching both Google Help and Google Search far and wide for practice questions and coming up with virtually nothing useful, I’m convinced that the best resource to use is a 1 month subscription to http://www.ipassexam.com which covers all of the topics on the exam and features practice questions that are all very relevant and some that may actually be verbatim on the real exam. If you can’t part with the extra cash I’d recommend making flashcards and memorizing the material from each section and its sub-sections one at a time. Google is structured and organized in its approach to just about everything and the AdWords certification exams are no exception. However, I would still strongly recommend the former if at all possible.
4. Have the exam notes mentality.
If you’ve ever taken an exam wherein the professor allows the use of notes you know what I’m talking about. Don’t make the mistake of getting lulled into a false sense of security simply because you can use your notes; the fact of the matter is that both exams will be tightly timed and if you have to search through all of your notes for every answer, chances are good that you won’t have enough time to complete them. Study the material until you know it front to back and then rewrite your notes if necessary to structure the information in a way that is logical and will allow for quick and easy reference while the clock is ticking.
5. Request backup.
Last but not least, make sure you have access (if possible) to another computer other than the one you’re using to take the exam. The certification program will not allow other windows to be open while an exam is in-progress so you'll need use of another computer to run a quick Google search if you’re really stumped or can’t find the answer in your notes.
Good luck on your exams! You can thank me when you have your new Google AdWords Certification in-hand.
*Image courtesy of Google AdWords™ advertising service