If its been a while since you had to study and pass any multiple choice exams you might be feeling a bit out of practice. I’m going to share with you the tips and techniques I used to pass the adwords exams. I’ve heard people say Google’s exams are easy, I’ve also heard others say they’re difficult. What’s certain is they are thorough.
For the fundamentals you have 90 questions to cover in 120 minutes; so approximately 1 question every 1m 20s. The pass mark being 90% and above. It’s certainly very achievable, but if you plan on Googling the answer to every question you’ll be hard pressed for time (I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying it!). No, what you really want to do is come into the exam well prepared. It’s not something you want to take multiple times. It’s a stressful and rushed two hours, I certainly came away feeling happy not to have to do it again (for another couple years). I won’t cover all the details of the exam format in this post, but I have written separately about what to expect with the Google AdWords certification exams.
There’s two different angles that you can approach the exam’s from. The first is the experienced paid search professional who’s looking to keep their qualifications and skill set up to date. For those I’d suggest skipping to Step 2. Second is the relative novice who’s just entering the industry and has limited knowledge of the AdWords platform. Lets begin with the latter scenario.
Get familiar with the AdWords platform
If you’re at the start of your paid search career I would suggest you begin by familiarising yourself as much as possible with the AdWords platform, in particular the Search Network. If you haven’t already, this means setting up, managing, and optimising a real campaign. I say real campaign because this way you’ll soon get to grips with the core functionality of defining campaign goals, creating tightly themed AdGroups, writing ad copy, building keywords lists, monitoring click-through rates, optimising landing pages, tracking conversions etc. It isn’t until you have a real objective that these things begin to have context and value. Of course if you have a reason to create a Display Network campaign also then that’s great. You’ll quickly learn the features of the display network and find the exams a lot easier.
Step 1 Summary: Set up and optimize a real AdWords Campaign, using the Search Network, that has a purpose other than testing.
Make notes when revising from the Help Centre
The next step is to gradually work your way through the Google Certified Professional Fundamentals Help Section. It’s dense, it’s thorough, but there’s no way to avoid this at the beginning. Once you get stuck in to the content it’s not so bad, but the sheer volume of material can be off-putting at the start. I founds myself learning quite a bit from the help centre, especially on the Display Network. I found myself setting up various display network campaigns to better understand the material I was reading.
If you think back to how you studied at school for important exams you should apply the same principles here. In particular I would encourage you to make notes throughout each section. Even if you think you’ll remember a particularly salient point; jot it down. The benefit of this is two-fold. The first is that it will provide a condensed reference guide to look back at when doing practice questions. The second is that come the actual exam when you want to double check something, you have your notes right there that you can flick through.
Step 2 Summary: Read through the Google Fundamentals Help section and make notes of anything new or complicated. These can be used in the exam to great effect.
Practice exam style questions
The next is the really important step if you want to pass the adwords exams first time… and don’t well all! You really need some way to practice the exam style questions. The reason for this is two-fold; firstly the syllabus (help centre) is broad and it’s hard to know which areas to focus on. Secondly practice questions give you experience, confidence and speed that you may lack before taking the exam.
Unfortunately Google doesn’t offer any practice questions or rehearsal material for the exams. There are websites out there with example questions – but from my research they were limited in quantity and hadn’t kept pace with the 2013 updates. The best resource for practicing the exam questions was a site called iPassExam. Now it is a premium service, and there is a cost, however I believe it warrants it.
If you’re interested in iPassExam but hesitant to spend money in addition to the already expensive cost of the exam I’d suggest signing up for their free trial first to get an idea of what’s on offer. I can say for certain that it vastly increased my knowledge by highlighting holes in my study, holes that I soon plugged when I became aware that they existed.
If you’re worried that by using a service like iPassExam you’re cheating yourself I’d say this: the important thing for you and your future clients is that you have a deep understanding of the AdWords platform such that you can deliver the best return on investment for them. Whether you gain this knowledge from staring solely at the Google resources or learning from questions on iPassExam is immaterial in the grand scheme of things.
Step 3 Summary: Find a way to practice the exam questions. I can recommend iPassExam for this.
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