A Dead-Simple Google AdWords Certification Guide: Costs, Tips & Tricks for Google Certification


Earlier this week in digging into some Google insights for search data we learned that an increasing number of you are looking for information about Google's AdWords Certification program:


The impetus for all this new-found search interest is likely a rebranding of Google's partner program and a series of changes on Google's end to how the AdWords certification process works, including several eligibility standards.

As with the need for free AdWords videos mentioned here recently, not all of Google's help materials are immediately helpful, and the same is true for the documentation around the AdWords certification program (possibly another reason for a jump in search traffic here).

In this post we'll try to represent some of the nuts and bolts information around getting google adwords certified in a manner that's slightly easier to digest, and we'll also try to layer some additional useful tips and advice on top of what you can get from the AdWords help materials. There's quite a bit of google adword certification content in an FAQ layout so feel free to jump to your favorite question below:

  • What Are the Different Types of AdWords Certification?
  • Should I Get an Individual AdWords Certification?
  • Should I Get an AdWords Partner Certification?
  • AdWords Certification Cost
  • Taking the AdWords Certification Exam
  • AdWords Certification Courses
  • AdWords Certification Tips & Study Aids

What Are the Different Types of AdWords Certification?

This is an important distinction to understand right out of the gate -- Google offers both individual and company certification. Basically the distinction is simply that:

  • An individual AdWords certification requires you to take two exams (more on this later).
  • A company (or professionals or partner) AdWords certification requires that you have a qualified individual linked to your MCC (My Client Center) account and that you have at least $10,000 in managed spend assigned to your AdWords MCC account over a period of 90 days.  

Should I Get an Individual AdWords Certification?

This is obviously the most important question to ask and answer before you get started down the path to AdWords certification. The answer depends entirely on your objective. If you're simply looking to learn AdWords, I don't think the certification is the best use of your time and resources. There are several things covered here that aren't necessarily critical to your being successful with AdWords (for instance you might be focused on B2B lead generation -- in that case much of what you'd learn about product extentions might be gratuitous and not actionable for you). If you have $100 to spend and simply want to figure out how to get the best possible bang for your educational buck I'd recommend picking up either Brad Geddes' Advanced Google AdWords or David Szetela's Pay Per Click Marketing an Hour a Day. If you're willing to invest a bit more time and money then training programs like PPC Blog and Certified Knowledge will be more than worth the monthly fees. And of course there's always pay-per-click software to try and buy.

There are two main instances where I think the certification can be valuable, however:

  • You Are a PPC Specialist - If you're a PPC specialist this can be a very useful credential. If your core focus is PPC and you think it's likely to stay that way, it'll be valuable as you look for future positions to have the certification. Most good agencies and companies won't use this as a sole factor in a decision, but it can serve as a nice filter in the event that yours is one of a stack of resumes.
  • You Are an Independent Consultant or Take on Side Work - Again this can serve as a nice trust factor in prospecting for clients. In some instances clients will be very impressed with the certification, and in others they'll just see it as a nice-to-have and an indication that you're at the very least familiar with the AdWords interface, but in either case it has some utility and is likely well worth the time investment and minimal cost.

Need help studying? Get our free study guide here: PPC 101: A Beginner's Guide to PPC

Should I Get an AdWords Partner Certification?

For this one I think the answer is generally "yes" if you're at a point where you're asking the question. The caveat being that you'll need to be managing at least $10,000 spend in a 90-day period. I certainly wouldn't advocate dedicating a PPC budget to meeting the qualifications if you don't already, but in the event that you are already managing that for clients it's likely worth having one of your employees get individual certification (or doing so yourself) and achieving partner certification. If you're selling PPC management services this is again a nice trust signal for prospective clients. An additional benefit here is that you're listed in Google's certified partners database and when people search that database for certain criteria they can find your company and become a lead for you.

How Much Does AdWords Certification Cost?

This is effectively $100: you have to take two exams (one basic and one advanced) for individual certification. If you're attempting to get company certification this could be zero (if you have an employee already qualified and are managing $10,000 over a 90-day span you just need to sign up).

How Do I Sign Up to Take the AdWords Certification Exam?

This is a bit more involved. Google's help documentation lays the process out in a fairly straightforward way, but the document with the information is a bit difficult to locate so here are the steps: 

Choose the scenario that applies to you in order to see steps on how to take the exams.

A. Purchasing an exam (no Testing Center account)

  1. Start at your AdWords Certification Program Account:
  2. You will now be at the Google Testing Center.
    • Click Create an account now
    • Complete all fields
    • Click Submit
  3. Click Purchase Test.
    • Click Buy for the exam(s) you want to purchase.
    • Click Place Order.
  4. Complete your purchase:
    • Choose your preferred checkout method and complete your purchase.
    • Click Continue with Purchase
    • Review all info is correct and click Place Your Order
    • View your order confirmation, which serves as your receipt. You may print this for your records.
  5. Complete these steps to activate and start the exam:
    • Click the link to activate your online products, or click the link to access your account.
    • You will be taken back to your profile page, where you'll need to enter your Candidate ID (you should have found your Candidate ID in step #1, and written this down) and click theSave button.
    • Activate your exam by accepting the terms and conditions.
    • Click Start Online and follow the directions to start the exam. (You will need to take the exam in a separate secure application, the Testing Center Browser. Be sure to use the drop-down to choose the language you want to take the exam in.)

B. Purchase an exam (existing Testing Center account)

  1. Start at your AdWords Certification Program Account:
  2. You will now be at the Google Testing Center.
    • Enter your login information and password for the Google Testing Center and click Sign in
    • Click Purchase Test
    • Click Buy for the exam(s) you want to purchase
    • Click Place Order.
  3. Complete your purchase:
    • Choose your preferred checkout method and complete your purchase.
    • Click Continue with Purchase
    • Review all info is correct and click Place Your Order
    • View your order confirmation, which serves as your receipt. You may print this for your records.
  4. Complete these steps to activate and start the exam:
    • Click the link to activate your online products, or click the link to access your account to be taken back to your profile page.
    • FYI - if this is your first time purchasing a GCP exam, you will be taken back to your Profile page upon submitting your order to fill in your Candidate ID (you should have found your Candidate ID in step #1, and written this down)
    • Click Start Online and follow the directions to start the exam. (You will need to take the exam in a separate secure application, the Testing Center Browser. Be sure to use the drop-down to choose the language you want to take the exam in.)

If you have an adwords voucher they also have instructions for that use case in the help document.

Is There an AdWords Certification Course?

As far as I know the only learning aids are the help materials offered by Google, but these should be more than sufficient in preparing for the test, pariticularly as they offer both textual and video content. If you're looking for a live learning experience around AdWords, Brad Geddes runs AdWords Seminars for Success but these tend to be more advanced and are not focused around passing the AdWords certification tests.

AdWords Certification Tips & Study Aids

Our friends at PPC Hero contributed a post on 5 tips to pass PPC certification exams, which offers some good general advice including taking notes on the help materials and being careful to give yourself enough time to prepare. Some additional tips I'd ad would be:

  • If you're familiar with AdWords, spend time on the areas you see least in the account (billing, ad types you don't frequently use) -- don't get cocky, there is a lot of stuff in the interface and you very well may not have a lot of access to all of it.
  • Print out your google ad words certification notes -- I believe that in all cases the new test format blacks out your screen (which wasn't the case with the previous test).
  • Use the same types of test-taking game theory you would for any test. You have the option to come back to questions and they're multiple choice, so don't spend too long on a question and make sure you're marking something and flagging the question to come back to.
  • Don't panic! If you're prepared you'll have plenty of time to take the test, and it's very passable, even if you're new to AdWords, if you've taken the time to study.

In terms of studying for the test the only aid or guide you'll really need will be the AdWords learning center materials: http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/go/learningcenter so be sure to check out both the text and video content there that pertains to the test you're taking.

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Mar 04, 2011

I'm assuming the test is timed? How long do you have, and how many questions are there? Is it the same for each of the four tests?

Rajesh Rajendran
Apr 01, 2011

Yeah. 113 Quetions & 3 hours. :)

Arpit Singhi
Sep 06, 2012

FYI,The Exam is for 2 hours and NOT 3 hours. I  am telling this based on my experience.

May 22, 2013

I have now taken the Fundementals exam 3 times. The first time I got 43% and I had not studied enough, the second time I got 68% and the third time 65%. I had failed because the pass rate is 85%.
The 3rd time I took the exam there were a lot of questions, that definately had nothing in the learning material to give you the answer. My view is that google are not interested in you passing the exam, if you failed the exam first time round. They make it impossible for you to pass on the 3rd round, so make sure you pass first time round.

Dec 29, 2013

They've recently overhauled the Partners exams, I'm currently studying to take mine, but I found this video, produced by Google Partners which explains the new process and gives tips on how long to study for each exam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RENKk4NzHyc For the Fundamentals exam, they recommend 10-30 hours of study prep time.

Dec 01, 2013

It’s extremely amazing to possess everything google , moreover i have  bookmarked it for future reference.There are number of things has been changed in seo field because now Google is going more smart day by day in term of search. So these are the some tips which would be do something extraordinary things.Definitely a remarkable and profitable article to browse.I am going to follow some of you tips for getting better rank in search engines. I have learned many things from your post.Thanks for posting such a useful tricks.Keep it up. 

Nov 10, 2013

I just cleared my fundamentals and display exams today.Feeling so excited.Questions were fizzy and little confusing,but i bet it

Aug 30, 2013

But where is the study guide??Please provide a link to it. I want to give Certification exam, but before that i would like to know what type of questions they ask.Thank you.

Jul 12, 2013

Where can i see the examples of questions that appear in the exam??I mean what type of question are given.. Like a mock text something?

Jun 12, 2013

Can i buy one exam for a life timeThanking youRohit

May 26, 2013

Hi guys! I have also a question whose answer I couldn't find until now.When are you supposed to have the Advanced exam once you have passed the Fundamentals exam?It has to be in the same day or it's up to you if you want to wait for a couple of days between them?Thanks and good luck!

Jun 28, 2014

There is any option to become Addwords certified without spending monye.

Jun 24, 2014

Hey, this is a truly incredible asset. I think Google Adwords Learning Center shold truly connection again to you.thanks for assembling this.

May 28, 2014

Thanks Pritish, I am also looking for same question- How many houes did you study for the test?Also what other study material would you reccomend to read before taking the exam? Thanks!

Chad Wiley
Apr 23, 2014

Thank you so much for this post, I have poured over Googles site looking for answers on google certification, but kept ending up at the partners page. Finally got the answers I was looking for.  Also, I have attended a Brad Geddes siminar, and it was worth every penny.  Looking forward to getting a copy of his new book.

Todd Kron
Feb 27, 2014

This is an old yet still valuable post. To some in here asking how they should study and they have never used it before or others saying they got < 50% on the first try, Id say use adwords. A cert that says you are an expert should at least mean you use it daily. Google needs to not let this get watered down, it is supposed to be a seal of approval of some level of expertise. You will be handling the money of others and a lack of exeperience makes the cert look weak for those who do this for a living. 

Jan 18, 2014

The AdWords certification program was recently updated again (late 2013). Google have removed the fee for taking tests (now if you fail you just have to wait 7 days before you can take it again). They've also removed the custom browser window (which used to block access to other apps while the exam was in progress). This means there's now no barriers to stop you looking up answers in another tab (if you so please). One thing they have done to make the test harder is to remove the option to go back and review previous questions. Now when you answer a question that's it, the questions submitted, no option to go back and change it. Hope that helps!For further info on the new AdWords format see my detailed post here: http://www.ppcwins.com/adwords-certification-exam-info/

Rupesh Shetty
Aug 18, 2013

Rohit,Like all major companies' certification programs, Adwords too is valid for certain period.As upgradation is a constant process for any tools success, Google may ask to retake test in future. But I guess that they will vouchers with discounts for re-takers.

Nov 20, 2013

Hi Mia,Firstly, Congratulation on your certification!! I have a question for you. I am really confusing about the individual certification exam sign up process now. I just got my Google Analytics Certificate a week ago and also saw the Google Ads Certificate exams in the test center that I can purchase. I plan to take them to get certified so I decided to purchased them first. When I clicked one of them, it says you need a ID and also told me to join "Google Partner Program" so you can take the exam for free. I am totally confused now. Because my company is not a agency and we don't have MCC account. I just want to prove my proficiency of using Adwords so I'd like to get individual certifed.  My current question is if I need to spend 100 dollars to purchase two exams or I can join "partner program" ( eventhough my company is not and is not going to be partner). I knew you just passed the exams, Would you like to share the process of signing up this? If you don't mind, please also share your good experience of how you prepare the exams:) Thank you!Nick

Jul 08, 2011

Hi Tom,

I would like to thank you for your great post. I have never used Google Adwords before and as I am planning to change career I have decided to get the Google certification.

Can you tell me:

How long do you think should I study before take the test? How many hours a das as I have never used G. Adwords).

Which books and training do you really believe that worth inversting?

Thank you very much.


Jul 29, 2011

Thanks for taking the time to share this.

Salma Noreen
Nov 02, 2011

Thanks  for sharing such informative post. Can you please share your experience that what type of questions you have attempted and how many questions were there. Are all questions were multiple questions answers are what type of?

al williams
Feb 01, 2013


There are 113 questions as another commenter pointed out.

All questions are multiple choice, but some questions have 2 or even 3 correct answers. some questions take the 'fill in the blank space' within a sentence, or ask ''which of the following statements are true...''

You need 85% or 97 questions to pass.

If you fail you can take one retest before needing to pay another 50$

The fundamentals should take around a week/ 35 hours for someone who has never used Adwor before.

hope that helps!

Aditya Puri
Dec 26, 2011

I found this article very useful. I will be taking the test shortly. Do you know on an average how much time does it take to get prepared for the exam?

Karl Thew
Jan 17, 2012

Thanks for this...I was struggling to find the information I wanted from Google. This made it nice and easy. Thanks :)

Jan 23, 2012

what is the cost of the adword course pleasethanks

Rupesh Shetty
Aug 18, 2013

As mentioned by Tom, Individual certification cost is $100 (approx. 6000 rupees) and for Partner program certification costs zero as the company already manages Adwords account and spends more than $10000 in three months.

Jan 23, 2012

Hey, this is a really great resource. I think Google Adwords Learning Center shold really link back to you :)Thanks for putting this together.Gaurav

New Egypt Consulting
Mar 04, 2012

Many thanks. Although my blog shares useful tips for Google AdWords, I think for online marketers and e-Marketing professionals, it is essential to get such certification.It is very good investment I think. Thanks for sharing the info Tom.

Larry Kim
Mar 04, 2012

Glad we could help!

PPC Advertising
Mar 20, 2012

Wow this was unbelievably more helpful than alot of the other sites on the net that pop up for the same search query.Your information is greatly appreciated. Thanks,Moku Yun

Mar 20, 2012

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

Aug 08, 2012

Thanks for the super simplified post which actually clarifies and makes sense.I think the Google tech docs writers don't think in the same 'language' as marketing people do :)That said- How long, if anyone can suggest an approximate- time frame should we allow of prep time before taking the first test (same question for the second).Do we need 2 hours a day for 3 months 5 days a week (for example). How intensive is it? Thanks 

Sep 21, 2012

Sep 29, 2012

There are a lot of people on oDesk and Elance claiming to have Adword certification. Is there any known way of verifying their certification Online?

Kelly S
Oct 15, 2012

Moe,Yes, there is a way to see if someone is certified, however, they would have had to utilize the 'create profile' option that allows them to promote their certification. If I wanted to know if someone was certified I would ask them for the public link to the certified profile (and if they have yet to make one, request that they do so). Here is the link to the google support page where I retreived this information: https://support.google.com/adwords/certification/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=170436 

Nov 30, 2012

I'd like to become individually certified and wondered how much time I should expect to spend learning the material prior to taking the exams.Thank you!

Dec 01, 2012

Hi kate,I was here exactly to ask the same question you have mentioned above and I have been desperately looking everywhereon the internet for a while to get as much info as I can regarding google certification and I think I have found some pretty websitesand training institutes and materials to kick start the course and eventually to get certify. Let me know through myemail if you are interested in sharing the information. I am determined to get individual google certification in the coming six months.   

Eliane Carbajal
Dec 10, 2012

Thanks for the helpful info! We are about to get our certification(with great excitement) and your study links have beenreal useful.

Dec 12, 2012

Hi,Could you pls tell me how difficultly level of Fundamental exam, how long it takes to prepare for this exam, and after payment for fundamental exam how much is the validity period within which we can apprear for the exam.Waiting for your kind reply.Thanks,Regards,Laxmi

Dec 19, 2012

Great article! I was wondering if it would be smarter to get both cert for individual and partner? Would the partner cert suffice by itself?? Thanks in advanced,Kevin

Feb 02, 2013

Very informative article.  It has helped clarify whether we are going to try to get a certification or hire someone else to handle it for us.Thanks,Kate  

Julia Johnson
Apr 03, 2013

Hi,I am planning on taking this test ASAP but I have several questions.1.) How long will it take to study all this material for each exam?2.) How long are each of the tests?3.) Are you allowed to take the exams and receive the certification if you're under the age of 18?--Julia

Apr 04, 2013

Hi! If anyone here is interested in testing your knowledge in Google Fundamentals, you can try http://teachmegood.com. It's affordable and gives a good example of what the actual Google exam will be like.

Julia Johnson
Apr 05, 2013

Wow, that's awesome! Signing up for it...NOW!

Julia Johnson
Apr 05, 2013

Well, I took the demo quiz. I only scored 75%. Of course, I haven't studied much yet. So I can improve.  But I still need to know: 1.) How long will it take to study all this material for each exam?2.) How long are each of the tests?3.) Are you allowed to take the exams and receive the certification if you're under the age of 18?--Julia

Philly Dave
May 04, 2013

As of today, April 4, 2013, there are 95 questions and you're given 2 hours to take the test.  They are multiple choice and there are several questions where they request "check all that apply."  The test costs $50.00 and although someone mentioned that you can retake the exam (1 time)if you fail at no charge, I'm still a little unclear about that.  (I failed my exam today)Tips:  Do NOT under value the need to study.  This test was a bitch!  Also, don't rely 100% on any notes you may have created while studying for the exam.  You need to commit as much as possible to memory.  (In other words, don't print out all the study material and then rely on it to research each question)  Because it's a timed test, make sure you won't be interupted by cell phones, door bells, kids, etc.    

May 08, 2013

Philly Dave (not verified)Have you taken the test on May 4th or April 4th??How many hours did you study for the test? Have you in the last 4 days checked if there is a re-test? 

Aug 13, 2015

hello team,

please update your blog

Vikas Kumar
Jun 29, 2016

I want to clear Google adword certification exam. Tell me what i do and hows it is possible.


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