Becoming AdWords Certified – Top Tips


Since recently becoming certified, I posted a blog on passing the GAIQ exam. Here I have done the same for AdWords and have put together some of the best resources to use when preparing for the AdWords exams…

Incase you didn’t already know, the AdWords exams have recently moved to Google Partners, so as of January 2015 the exam is now free to take. However you’ve lost the ability to pause and review the questions meaning you answer as you go.

As of even more recently (March 2015), there has been changes made to the AdWords exams – there is an 80% pass rate across all exams, they are all now valid for twelve months and the Shopping Advertising exam is now available in the UK.

In order to become AdWords qualified, you have to pass the Fundamentals exam (100 questions, 2 hours long) and one out of the other four:

  • Search Advertising (98 questions, 2 hours long)
  • Display Advertising (87 questions, 2 hours long)
  • Video Advertising (74 questions, 90 minutes long)
  • Shopping Advertising (63 questions, 90 minutes long)


If, like me, you’re completely new to AdWords, this cheat sheet is worth having a quick flick through before you begin with the Google resources. It contains brief definitions of the keywords you’ll hear a lot of as well as some tips and resources that will come in handy.

Google’s study guide is up to date as of March 2015 and consists of different units each, including videos as well as links to further information. Noting down any key points or references at this stage will make things much easier during the test as you can use them to quickly look up the information you need.

Next, try out this practice test by Gyani Akash which is a great way to measure your knowledge. The questions do not alternate if you retake the test so try to avoid taking it too early, try it once you’ve studied and then try it again just before the actual exam to make sure you’re confident answering the questions and are achieving high results.

Q&A style practice questions helped me out a lot during the exam; I found it was useful to test myself to see how much I actually knew. The questions are split into various topics so you can revise in a particular area you’re not as strong in. A lot of these questions (or very similar) came up during the actual test so it’s good practice to go through them and see what you know.

During the Test

In order to be as organised as possible before hitting the start button and then panicking when you need to search for some information, it’s best to have some tabs you’re likely to use already open. Here’s what I had on the ready:

  • Test
  • Notes
    If you have created a good quality set of notes then this is where you’ll thank yourself. For me personally, this was my first port of call when I was struggling with a question and wanted to quickly check my answer. The CMD+F shortcut (CTRL+F for Windows) makes it possible to find the information you’re looking for almost instantly.
  • AdWords help centre
    The help centre is more specific to AdWords than running a Google search so is more likely to give you relevant answers, saving you valuable time during your test.
  • AdWords account
    For some questions you may find it useful to refer back to your actual AdWords account so it’s worth having it open.

What Next?

Once you’ve managed to pass the Fundamentals exam, you’re half way there. You then have to pass one of the other four exams before becoming officially AdWords qualified. For me personally, I studied for the Search Advertising exam…

Search Advertising

A fair few of the questions in the search exam were about things you’ll have learnt when studying for the fundamentals exam, so it may be a good idea to start working towards this exam almost straight away after passing the first so it’s all still fresh in your head.

Google’s study guide is the place to start. As with the fundamentals exam, make notes in a separate document on the different topics – as well as helping you filter the information, it allows you to search simplified notes that you can understand and quickly scan through.

Write down formulas as you come across them, I found these came up a couple of times during my exam so they’re handy to have noted down so you can refer back to them.

This practice test, again by Gyani Akash, consists of 50 questions. In order to gage the amount of time you’ll have to answer each question in the real exam, try to complete this practice test in around an hour.

As well as this, here are some sample questions. There are 99 Q&A style questions to look through which I found gave me a much clearer idea of what to expect – many of these questions are similar, if not identical, to those you’ll find in the actual test so I would strongly recommend looking through these and testing yourself on them.

During the Test

I’d suggest having more or less the same tabs open as before:

  • Test
  • Notes
    As with before, have your notes open in the next tab and use the CMD+F search feature.
  • Fundamentals notes
    It’s also worth having your notes from the fundamentals exam open as some of the questions include topics covered in the fundamentals section. If you can’t find the information you need in your search advertising notes, it’s likely they’ll be in your fundamentals notes since some sections overlap.
  • AdWords account
    With modules such as ‘performance monitoring and reporting’ and ‘AdWords tools’, having your account open to refer to for certain questions may be more relevant than your notes.
  • AdWords help centre

What Next?

Now you’ve successfully completed two of the exams, you’re officially AdWords qualified and will see a brand new certificate appear on your Partners profile.