How to Pass Your Google AdWords Fundamental and Advanced Search Exams

After successfully completing the AdWords Fundamental and the Advanced Search exam, I thought I would share my experiences.

Passing your AdWords exams is all part of making you a certified AdWords professional, and the knowledge gained is fundamental to maintain successful Paid Search campaigns. The qualifications will earn you a level of trust with your clients which can only improve leads.

Plus, as you’ll be receiving your training from Google, you’ll know exactly what Google expects from you – improving your SEO and AdWords efforts combined.

Thankfully I passed the exam both with relative ease, but am very glad that I invested a couple of hours of revision to refresh my knowledge of certain aspects of the AdWords system.

I’m going to talk you through my revision strategy, exam approach, and finally, impart some inside knowledge about the AdWords Advanced Search Exam.

Revision Strategies

The excellent resources at the Exam Study Learning Center are extremely useful and I would also recommend making use of the AdWords Online Classroom Webinars whilst you’re there, especially if you are relatively new to the AdWords system or taking your first exam.

As ever the AdWords Blog is always full of valuable articles and guidance with clear explanations to keep you updated on the latest developments.

My Exam Approach

I suppose simply acquiring the knowledge to pass the exam can be achieved with hours of study and revision, although the exam will mean very little if individuals are unable to put their knowledge into practice and deliver better campaigns for their clients.

This is why  practice is probably the most important aspect of revision. Rather than simply answering questions and trying to remember the right answer, you will be thinking about your own experiences and the decisions you made to improve campaign performance.

For my revision I selected three client accounts and applied the exam questions to these real life campaigns, which in most cases made the answers extremely obvious.  By using an e-commerce client, a B2B national advertiser and one of my smaller client campaigns who rely heavily on localised search traffic, I was able to apply each question to a real life scenario which made the exam seem much easier.

Prior to the exams I made sure that I:
[list_wrap] [list_item]created additional display campaigns;[/list_item] [list_item]ran impression share reports;[/list_item] [list_item]made use of the bid incremental feature;[/list_item] [list_item]and set up mobile targeted ads etc[/list_item][/list_wrap] This refreshed my memory and reinforced much of what I already knew.

AdWords Fundamental Exam

You’ll need to attain 85% in order to pass. You have 2 hours to complete 120 questions, which is a generous amount of time.  If you are unsure of any questions you can mark them and return at the end of the exam, which I highly recommend if you’re unsure over certain questions.

Much of the content covered was basic AdWords strategies and covered a range of topics, although a common theme throughout included;
[list_wrap] [list_item]The benefits of using AdWords[/list_item] [list_item]Keyword matching strategies[/list_item] [list_item]CPM (Cost Per Mille/Thousand)and CPC (Cost Per Click)pricing[/list_item] [list_item]Search and display[/list_item] [list_item]Automatic versus managed placements[/list_item] [list_item]Campaign settings[/list_item] [list_item]Targeting strategies[/list_item] [/list_wrap] I am sure no 2 exams are the same, so it’s safer to ensure you are confident in all areas before taking the exam.  Although the fact that you have 2 hours to complete and can even afford the luxury of getting 18 questions wrong, means that providing you have a good understanding of AdWords, there is a very good chance of passing the Fundamental exam.

AdWords Advanced Search Exam

The advanced search exam was much more taxing, with questions that certainly required a greater level of concentration.  Once again the format was 2 hours, 120 questions and a required pass mark of 85%.  I used the full 2 hours (1 hour 45 on the test, and 15 minutes reviewing my marked questions) and there were certainly questions which, in my opinion, were there to catch you out!

Although my revision strategy was very similar I had invested additional time on mobile, video, and image ads, as well as spending additional time using the various campaign tools and running a variety of campaign, ad group, and keyword reports.

Unfortunately for me, very few questions actually appeared to cover these subjects and many of the first 20 (and last 15) were heavily geared towards using the API, Advanced AdWords Editor strategies and functionality within an MCC (My Client Centre).

Another of the differences with the advanced exam was the similarity with the answers and the way they were written, which if you were not careful, you could quite easily select the wrong answer without thinking it through properly.

This is where applying questions to real-life client campaigns became extremely beneficial, as this helped with deciding what answers to dismiss, which usually resulted in two answers that could conceivably be correct!

There were a couple of times I could not choose between two different answers and even found myself answering a question that I knew was the correct Google answer, but not exactly what I would recommend for a new client (relating to the use of a broad match keyword strategy!).

Overall, the exam was challenging but perfectly passable if you take time to revise the areas that aren’t your strong point.

Other areas that cropped up were;

[list_wrap] [list_item]Landing page optimisation[/list_item] [list_item]Invalid clicks / fraudulent clicks[/list_item] [list_item]Google places / ad extensions[/list_item] [list_item]Policy and editorial guidelines[/list_item] [list_item]Optimization techniques[/list_item] [list_item]Impact of quality score / ad dank on CPC[/list_item] [list_item]Smart pricing / AdWords discounter[/list_item][/list_wrap]

Once you have become an AdWords Professional you are rewarded with a shiny certificate, and a listing in the Individual Suppliers Directory, which isn’t too bad at all I suppose!

I personally enjoyed the challenge of the new exam format and becoming a Qualified AdWords professional again and have certainly increased my knowledge in areas that I may have normally overlooked.

I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on any of the exams taken so far, so feel free to share your experiences!

* This article was originally written by Stephen Maguire, but has been revised and updated by Matt Loughlin, Head of Paid Search

The Complete Guide to Ad Extensions

AdWords Extensions PDFIf you’re sitting your AdWords exams, you’ll want to know about Ad Extensions – powerful features that allow you to display additional information within your AdWords ads at no extra cost.

AdWords ad extensions will help you boost CTR (click-through rates) by up to 30% according to Google, increasing conversions and decreasing CPC (Cost Per Click).

Receptional’s free, 20-page downloadable guide – The Complete Guide to AdWords Ad Extensions – will help you to understand the benefits of each ad extension and which ones are best for your business.

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  1. Congratulations. Thanks for the tips

  2. Wow, you really summed up the exam really well. Everybody who is preparing for the adwords exam should get to read your article first. Very well written, clap clap clap. Thanks

  3. Hey there thanks for the great tips, I am taking the exams this week!

  4. So am I understanding correctly, that once certified (taking the fundamentals, and one of the three other tests), you need to take these test(s) over again at some point? So you do you need to get re-certified annually etc?

  5. Congratulations!
    Good. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am so excited to take those two exams and wondering how they looked like. Now at least I can imagine how the heads and tail are about.

  6. I found one website : providing adword fundamental online coaching with model questions.
    in first attempt if any one fail they will pay money back

    I tried trial version , its good.

    Is it worth of buying ?

  7. I just took the exam yesterday and passed with an amazing 91% – i was well chuffed! having only started in the field a few weeks ago and not having much experience of the AdWords interface i was abit concerned at not passing after reading some blogs and comments.

    Got to say this post helped massively and is well worth a read for anyone considering taking the exam, thanks Stephen!

    I found the website – the sample questions where enough for me, just gave you a basic idea of the layout of the questions and what sort of answers Google would be expecting. It even explains why each option is correct/incorrect as an answer.

  8. I found your comments about the Search Advanced Exam to be very true. Even if you don’t use API and AdWords Editor system you have to know that stuff.
    Also, I know you’re right about 85% pass mark for the fundamentals exam.
    However, I’m pretty sure the pass mark for the Search Advanced exam is 80%.

  9. Just to let everyone know if it is 12 months since they last sat the exam, and need to re-take it and are wondering if it is worth spending a lot of time revising before hand – it isn’t.
    It was *very* similar to the last time I took it. I did not revision and spend just over 37 minutes completing all the questions, and got 95%.

  10. Thank you for the post! I should have read it before taking the exam, which I also found very challenging. I have just started with AdWords, and have passed the Fundamentals and the Advanced Display Exams, but no luck with this one.
    Just to let you all know, apart from the topics Stephen mentions, there are some questions (around 5) about Google Places, so prepare that as well.
    Best of luck to all of you, and hope I pass the Reporting & Analysis advanced the first time with your tips!

  11. Hi guys, can’t believe it’s been over a year since I took both, but thought I’d update you on the search and reporting exams.

    Advanced Search was pretty similar to last year to be honest and for many questions the same scenarios were used (Geo targeting, language preferences, improving ROI, Improving CTR, Negative Keywords, Match types).

    I found this relatively straight forward and if anything was a bit easier this time round. There were certainly less questions regarding API Usage, MCC, Billing, AdWords Editor etc.

    The reporting exam was the complete opposite to last year’s experience and I found it much more challenging.
    I would certainly recommend brushing up on your Google Analytics skills and making sure you are familiar with profile settings, permissions, goal configuration, funnel reports and customizing tracking code.

    There were at least 5 questions geared towards conversion optimizer, so if possible I would advise switching a campaign over to conversion optimizer to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of this feature.

    Best of luck everyone!

  12. You do indeed Ronnie, every 12 months you have to renew an advanced module.

    With so many new AdWords features added every year; it’s certainly a way to keep us on our toes!

    Best of luck

  13. Christopher DzialoApril 23, 2012 at 1:08 am · Reply


    I’ve taken all of the Google Advanced Exams myself, but have expired due to the yearly renewal process.

    Have you noted any changes in the exam material from AdWords updates? I’ve completed the iPassExam interface and shall plan to sit for the exams again, but have become concerned about changes that have been made and how the AdWords Certification Center reflects the changes made on the official exams.

    Christopher Dzialo

  14. Stephen MaguireMay 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm · Reply

    Hi Tatiana, you will need to also pass the Fundamental exam as well as one of the advanced modules in order to be qualified and receive the AdWords certificate.

    The Fundamental exam is very straight forward with many questions covering the basic principles of paid search and the AdWords system.

    You will need to take the exam with the same username and login and then you will see your exam records and profile status within

    Best of luck


  15. The exam is quite tricky and it is difficult to complete in 120 minutes for a newbie but i have managed to get 95 and 94 percent respectively in fundamentals and advanced exam.

    I must say that being in industry and a worked as a freelancer for past 3 years have helped me to ace this.

    Thanks a ton for the interesting article.

    P.S you can contact me at the email address mentioned in the RESULTS url

  16. Hi Stephen,

    I passed the display exam as a prep for the search exam, so technically I am already a qualified individual. I cannot find my profile page and I did not receive a certificate (I passed the exam 2 weeks ago). Should I apply for both of these things?

  17. very nyce post stephen..keep it up.

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