Taking the Search Advertising Advanced Exam

By Lauren Kade | Mar 8, 2011
More Articles by Lauren

Today I am a certified Google AdWords Professional!  And with some hard work and 6 hours of time to take the exams, you can be too.

The Fundamentals Exam

The first exam, the Google Advertising Fundamentals Exam, is pretty straightforward, and if you’ve put in some hours studying the materials, it isn’t incredibly difficult. (But don’t let that be an excuse to not study!  If you fail you have to pay the $50 testing fee again).  Google has also graciously increased the time limit to three hours, giving you ample time to mark questions for future review and come back to ponder your options.

Choosing Your Advanced Exam

After the fundamentals exam, Google lets you choose between three different, more advanced exams.  I chose the Search Advertising Advanced Exam because it included a lot of the same material as the fundamentals exam.  Compared with the first exam, the advanced exam proved much more challenging!  I recommend putting in many hours of reading carefully through the online materials, taking notes, and studying your notes.

If you plan on taking the Search Advertising Advanced Exam instead of one of the other three options, you’ll have the benefit of a lot of overlap in the study material, so once you know the fundamentals material it’s easier to focus your studying efforts on those few sections that are solely on the advanced exam.

One topic in the study materials I found misleading was the AdWords Application Programming Interface material.  Even though the section mentions the Google API is mainly for developers, definitely spend time studying it because they expect everyone to know how the API works and the tools you can use with it.

Taking the Test

When you actually take the test, I recommend taking the two exams on consecutive days.  The tests are three hours each, so afterwards your brain will probably be fried (mine was), which is why I recommend getting a good night’s sleep in between.  Also, if you take the exams on consecutive days you will be able to better retain the content that is on both exams and won’t need to re-study much material.

Practical Test-Taking Advice:

  • Set up your computer in a quiet area.  This is a little obvious but even voices through a wall could become distracting.
  • Bring scratch paper and a pen, in case you need to do calculations or map out something.
  • It is three hours long!  Remember to use the restroom beforehand.
  • Get yourself a glass water or tissues or whatever you could potentially need.

Theory v. Reality

After the exam, be sure to note that what Google teaches in the Learning Center is not always what is best for you or your client.  Google likes to highlight new or underused products in the study materials to encourage more people to use them.  For example, there is a lot of material throughout the learning center on the Display Network.  If you or your client is a small company, your tight budget may not be best allocated by opting in to the Display Network.  So make sure to take everything Google teaches you with a grain of salt, and remember that no matter what your feelings towards Google are, they are ultimately trying to sell you something.


Since writing this post, it seems that Google has taken away the extra hour.  Users in both the US and internationally now only have two hours to complete both the Fundamentals exam and the Advanced exam.  So be prepared to answer about 113 questions in only 120 minutes.

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  • Josef Severson

    Has the time limit truly changed to 3 hours for the Adwords fundamental exam? I can’t find evidence of this.

    Thanks, good read.

  • http://www.search-mojo.com Lauren Kade

    Three of my colleagues and I took them within the past four months and were all given three hours to take both the fundamentals exam and the search advertising advanced exam. I’m not sure if Google is really publicizing the fact, though. Hope that helps!

  • Brittany

    I just took the Fundamentals Exam and I only had 2 hours to take it!!!! SO NOT ENOUGH TIME…I passed though, but I was rushing the entire time.

    • Lauren Kade

      Maybe Google has changed the time limit again? I’m curious – are you in the US? I’ve heard that the time could differ depending on what country you’re in…

  • http://www.trondlyngbo.no Trond

    The Google Adwords Advertising Exam had 113 questions and I got 130 or 140 minutes to finish.

    Best regards,


  • Kanishka

    I took the Fundamentals exam yesterday and passed it. I can assure that the exam was 2 hours long and I’m from Sri Lanka. Makes me wonder, either ones out side US has better brains or the opposite. ;)

  • Mona

    2 hours in Belgium for the Google Advertising Fundamentals Exam. (septembre 2011)

  • Lauren Kade

    Hm. Well two of my colleagues here in the US are set to take the fundamentals exam in the next few weeks, so I’ll update the post with their findings. Thanks everyone!