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Qualified AdWords Professional

Having recently been required to re-up on our Google AdWords Professional status, I now have a unique perspective of how difficult and “involved” the whole process is.

Before I get into the actual exam tips and feedback, let me give you some background on my previous experience.  I have personally been working with and been invovled in the PPC marketing field for nearly 9 yrs now – going back to Overture, Findwhat and other early pay-per-click marketing systems.  Back then, there were no tests, no certifications to speak of – you either knew how to setup an account and manage it effectively or you didn’t.  Throughout the past 9 yrs, I have had various levels of involvement with our PPC services.  I have had more of a hands-off role, allowing a new PPC manager to take over and manage the accounts on a daily basis; I have had full involvement, to where I am solely responsible for the daily activities and bid management on the accounts; and, I have had the pleasure of training new marketing staff on the intricacies and best practices for managing PPC accounts.  In short, I have extensive experience on all levels of PPC marketing and understand the core concepts well.

Preparing for the Google AdWords Professional Exam

I haven’t studied for a test since college (2000), so planning and setting myself up for the Google AdWords Professional exam was quite the undertaking and learning experience – like learning to ride a bike again if you hadn’t for awhile.

Google provides a great resource and training area on their website to help you prepare for the test.  I found the video tutorials, which was my preference for studying, to be very informative and well thought out.  I would say that they were the proper duration and contained “most” of the information that ended up being on the test.  In total, I believe the videos run somewhere around 8 hours.  Having knowledge of several topics already, I utilized the fast forward button quite frequently during my studying sessions.

Google AdWords Professional Exam Tips

  1. When you prepare to study, whether it be reading the training guide or viewing the video tutorials, isolate yourself from distractions.  It is difficult enough paying attention to approximately 8 hrs of videos, but add in the daily office distractions (people speaking, phones ringing, emails coming in, etc.), and now you’re looking at 8 hrs of 70% (or worse) learning.  With too many distractions, there is simply no way you can pay attention and pass the exam.
  2. If there is an area of the AdWords exam that you’re unfamiliar with, such as Local listings, geo-targeting, or another topic, be sure to take good notes on the items that you would easily forget.
  3. Take each of the quizzes in the tutorial area after you watch the videos.  If you miss even 1 question on a particular tutorial or group, I would suggest you go back at a later time and try the quiz again.  There are no grades so all you would be doing is refining your knowledge and improving the likelihood of passing.
  4. You are given 90 minutes to answer 110 questions, and while it might seem like you’re on a good roll to begin the test, plan on needing close to the entire allotted time to complete the test.  I finished my first run-through w/ approximately 50 minutes left, but required nearly every last minute to answer each question with confidence.  In short, schedule your time around 90 full minutes – not 45, not 60.
  5. Utilize the “skip” feature during the exam to move onto the questions you already know the answers to.  If you stop and spend a lot of time on a single question, you may not be able to answer all of the questions in time.  If you’re unsure, skip it and come back at the end to review it again.  The exam software is very easy to use and they make it a no-brainer to go back & edit your answers.

So How Did I Do On The Exam?

Google threw in about 20-questions to which I had never seen or heard during the video tutorials.  I can’t say that I paid attention 100% during those videos, however, but there were a number of questions to which I had no reasonable answer to. It seemed like there were a slew of trick questions, although re-reading the questions and keying in on particular words used in the question usually led me to the proper answer.

Google requires you to score a 75% on the exam in order to pass, so you don’t have a lot of room for error.  After my first run, I believe I had skipped 10 questions in total and marked another 27 as “unsure”.  So 37 out of 110 questions were left “up in the air” and required additional work to answer.

After re-reviewing the answers previously marked as “unsure” on the exam and thoughtfully answering the 10 questions I had skipped, I submitted my answers to see if I was as smart as I thought :P

Final score – 92%