The other day I finally got around to taking and passing the Google AdWords Advanced Search exam. The first time through I failed by one point. The second time I passed with an 84%.
I found the new Partners study materials to be very helpful. Most of the information was explained very clearly and concisely, and was easy to recall while taking the test. I only had to read through the study materials 1 and ½ times (a total of maybe 15 hours at most) to get the sufficient passing score of 84%.
The layout is a little strange though. The first section is a review of what is on the fundamentals exam. This mostly serves as good foundational knowledge for the more advanced questions on the exam. But this section also serves as preparation for some very basic questions included in the Advanced Search exam. Personally I didn’t think these questions were necessary since, after all, it’s supposed that you have already passed the fundamentals exam at this point. The questions were really easy to answer, at least.
The next two sections cover ad formats, and ad and site quality. These sections were very informative, easy to follow, and well organized. I think however that it was kind of strange to have these be the 2nd and 3rd sections. They don’t really flow into the next sections that are covered, or provide any kind of foundation for them.
The advanced search exam mostly tests you on the bells and whistles of the AdWords interface, as well as some overarching strategy essentials. There are two entire sections in the study materials on optimizing performance and profitability. Again these are well organized and informative. This is where the test really felt different from the fundamentals exam, since the content is much more in-depth and detailed.
The section on the AdWords API was hard for me since I have never used it on an account. But this section was helpful enough to help me answer the questions.
Overall, I learned a lot from studying for the Advanced Search exam. I think anybody who understands the basic principles and goals of paid search and reads through the study materials once or twice will pass the test.