Google launched a new Google AdWords Certification program in April, 2011. Along with it went some changes in the requirements and the names have changed for both the company certification and the individual certification. This article intends to give you an overview and some tips to pass the exam.

Requirements for the company and individual certification 

Formerly known as “Google Qualified Company” the company certification required USD 100.000 in AdWords spending within 90 days and three individual Google advertising professionals connected to that company. Now it’s called “Google Certified Partner” and it only requires USD 10.000 in AdWords spending within 90 days and one Google advertising professional. In addition the company needs to provide a billing and mailing address based in the country, where the qualification is eligible plus Google AdWords’ terms and conditions have to be accepted.

The individual qualification “Google Advertising Professional” has been renamed to “Google AdWords Specialist”. The qualification requires passing a fundamentals exam and one out of three advanced exams. In addition Google AdWords’ terms and conditions have to be accepted as well. At the advanced exams you can choose between the topics search advertising, display advertising, and reporting & analysis.

Test structure

Each test has about 110 multiple choice questions, which you have to answer in 180 minutes. (Google says 120 minutes on their website, but when I took two of the exams in May, 2011 I actually had 180 minutes each.) The percentage of questions you have to answer right to pass the exam varies from test to test. For the fundamentals you need 85%, for the search advertising exam 80%, for the display advertising exam 75%, and for the reporting & analysis exam 75%.

For each test and each try Google charges USD 50. So, if you do everything right the first time, you’ll end up with paying USD 100 to get the certification. If you fail one test, don’t worry too much, since Google gives you the next try seven days later and failed exams can be chosen not to be shown in your profile later on.

Learning material and test questions

Google provides all learning material that you’ll need to pass the exam for free. There is no need to join an expensive seminar or buy any books to prepare yourself for the test, if you have worked with Google AdWords before. However the new exam has become much tougher than the previous one and you better prepare well. Also people who have used AdWords for some time be advised to do some theoretical learning before they take the test, because there are many questions about exotic AdWords features that are barely been used.

When you register for the Google AdWords Certification program you’ll find a link to the training center in your profile. The information provided there is very lengthy. However I strongly recommend reading it all even if you’re a savvy AdWords user. To save some time you might just focus on the parts that are less familiar to you. A common mistake people make is to leave out the parts that seem to be less relevant for their practical work. In the exam you will also be asked about topics like advertising on mobile devices and the API integration. Don’t skip chapters like those! You do not need to follow the links in the training center material that refer to even more detailed information. Very helpful are the links to the presentations in some chapters, because they visualize and summarize the content of the chapter. In those presentations are also some quizzes for practicing. Those quizzes are helpful, but the questions in the exam will be more difficult.

When I took the exam in May, 2011 the questions were not all up to date. For example I encountered several questions about preferred position bidding, which was no longer available in AdWords. Try to stick to the information in the training center and also read through the features, where you know, that they are outdated.

Cheating

If you want to cheat on the test, Google has made it more complicated to do so now. To take the exam you will be required to download an extra browser that will disable all other programs on your computer while you take the test. Formerly it was possible to use tools like Google search or Skype on a secondary monitor to get you through the test. With conventional methods this is no longer possible. If you still want to have a way to look up things or communicate with others while you take the test, you can use a second computer to do so. It seems like that the second computer can use the same internet connection / same IP address.

Time Management

If you don’t know the answer to a question right away, there is an option to mark the question and you can review all marked questions anytime later. Since you only have less than two minutes per question, which might be too short to look up anything, you should answer all questions right away, mark the ones where you are unsure about and return to them, after you have gone through all of them.

How to use the AdWords Certification

After you have passed the fundamentals and one of the advanced exams, it will take a few days until the test results are being transferred from the testing center (which is hosted under a non-Google domain) to your Google profile. Once the results are transferred you need to activate your AdWords professional profile and Google provides you with a link that you can send to your clients to proof, that you have successfully passed the certification program. If you need a proof very urgent, you can also generate a link in the testing center itself.