Last year, I managed millions of dollars worth of online advertising, well over a million of which was through Google AdWords. Adding up those numbers for my yearly review brought me to the sobering conclusion that I was long overdue for completing my Google Advertising Professional (GAP) certification.
For those who don’t know, the Google Advertising Professional program is a certification awarded by Google to ad managers who meet certain qualifications. If you manage AdWords frequently, it’s a great way to improve your knowledge, boost your confidence, and add a nice bullet point to your resume. Here’s how I did it.
I read up on the requirements. In order to become a Qualified Individual, you have to manage an AdWords account through My Client Center and maintain a total spend of at least $1,000 for all of the accounts that you manage for a 90-day period. You also have to pass the GAP exam. Obviously, I already met the first two requirements, so all I needed to do was pass the exam.
I read through the training materials. In truth, all of the answers to the GAP exam can be found somewhere in the AdWords Learning Center. Much of it is useful, although some will come across as elementary if you’re an experienced marketer. I took a few days to study it thoroughly, paying particular attention to the videos and practice quizzes. Remember, of course, that you don’t have to memorize the lessons; just familiarize yourself with them well enough that you can find an answer quickly when you’re taking the exam.
I tried out unused features. New features are added to Google AdWords often enough that even the most experienced users lose track. For example, before I read the training materials, I had never known that you could geo-target a defined radius around a specific point on the globe (a useful feature for, say, a pizza delivery business). Whenever I came across a feature I’d never used before, I logged into my account and gave it a try.
I registered for the exam. The GAP exam is administered by Prometric and costs $50 to take. Except for the charge, registration is painless.
I opened a few reference sites. Take advantage of the fact that the GAP exam is administered online and open some valuable references ahead of time. I made sure to open the AdWords Learning Center, a standard Google search page, and my AdWords account page for the questions pertaining to menus and dashboards.
I saved the hard questions for last. You only have 90 minutes to take the test. At 117 questions, that means you can only devote an average of 46 seconds to each. Others who have taken the exam will tell you the same: Answer what you can from memory and skip the rest your first time through. Only when you’ve answered all of the easy questions should you go back and hit the hard ones.
I used every minute. Assuming you have time left after you answer all of the questions, don’t stop. Take any remaining time to review your answers. I had enough time to review about three quarters of the questions after I had answered them all, and I’m confident that I scored a few more points as a result.
I basked in the result. The exam was tough, but not impossible. If you review all of the training materials and know your stuff, you’re sure to score well above the 75% passing grade. I managed 91.5% following these steps. Good luck!