3 years ago, I wrote a post about preparing for the Adwords Fundamentals exam. Looking back, it’s amazing how much has changed in 3 years. So, I figured I’d update my recommendations for preparing for the Adwords Certification Exams.
- The exams are now free, but are associated with Google Partners. You need to sign up for Google Partners to take the tests – which is also new. Badges for individual qualifications have gone the way of the dinosaur. That said, free exams are a nice benefit for companies with multiple PPC managers, or for those who want to take more than one exam (there are 3 Adwords certification exams: Fundamentals, Advanced Search, and Advanced Display).
- > Recommendation: If you’re an experienced PPC manager, take each Adwords Certification exam once without studying. Chances are, you’ll pass; and if you don’t, you can take them again for free, knowing which sections you need to bone up on.
- The test runs in a browser, but it no longer locks your computer – leaving you free to open another browser for an “open book” test. The test is still timed, though, so if you’re very new to Adwords or are unsure of your test-taking skills, don’t expect to be able to look up the answer to every question.
- > Recommendation: Have 2 different browsers open when you start the exam. As with most things Google, the test runs well in Chrome, so use that for the test, and either Firefox or Internet Explorer for the help files.
- There is no way to mark questions you’re unsure about for further review. This one frustrates me. One of the most effective ways to take standardized tests is to complete the questions you’re certain about, mark those you’re not, and then go back and work those questions until time runs out. With a test using paper and pencil, that’s easy. Online, it’s tougher.
- > Recommendation: Have a piece of scratch paper handy to write down the numbers of questions you’re not sure about. Then go back and review them.
What’s The Same:
- The test is still timed, although you now have 120 minutes to complete it. While experienced PPC managers can easily finish much quicker (I think it took me 45 minutes tops), if you’re fairly new to PPC it might take you the whole time.
- >Recommendation: Use your time wisely. Dredge up your ACT and SAT test-taking skills and don’t dwell too long on any one question, and don’t look up all the questions in the help files. Trust your knowledge!
- Newer PPC managers will want to study for the exam, using Google’s study materials.
- > Recommendation: Unless you’re brand-new to PPC, don’t review every section. Skip topics you already know and focus on those you’re not familiar with.
- Standardized test-taking best practices still apply!
- > Recommendation:
- >> Skip questions you’re not sure of and come back to them
- >> Your first impression is usually correct
- >> On true/false questions, you have a 50/50 chance of getting the answer right
- >> And so on
You’re now up to date on the latest and greatest on preparing for the Adwords Certification exams. So are the exams worthwhile?
Caleb Hutchins over at WordStream wrote a great post this week pointing out the flaws with the Adwords Certification exams. It’s a must-read: the post itself and the comments are fascinating and discuss the pros and cons of the exams.
I tend to agree with Caleb that the exams are poorly-designed, biased toward Google, and a poor predictor of actual PPC management success. That said, being certified is a big deal for prospective clients. I’ve had countless prospects ask me if I’m certified – although I’d been doing PPC successfully for several years before the exams even existed! Still, it’s really all we have to say that we actually know what we’re doing.
Do you have any tips for passing the Adwords Certification exams? Got a beef with them you want to air out? Share in the comments!