Complete Guide to the NEW AdWords Certification Test


When I started at WordStream in 2013, I was well aware that I’d be spending my first few weeks preparing for the AdWords certification exam.

Although I was thrilled to have a job at a young and thriving Boston-based company, I wasn’t even close to thrilled at the thought of taking a test. At the time my AdWords knowledge was slim to none. I didn’t understand what a negative keyword was or have any clue what the AdWords interface looked like. But the thought of failing made my shoulders tense up. I was never one for test-taking…

AdWords Certification Test gif saying "what does PPC stand for again?" 

I knew if I failed the exam during my first attempt I’d be starting off my new job with a wave of embarrassment, so I took it upon myself to over-study, even coming into the office on a Sunday. And phewf, I passed.

I recently re-took the AdWords certification test and passed, but was somewhat surprised when I felt stumped by a few of the questions. I kept second guessing myself: Well, both of the answers could be correct, but which is more correct? What’s the formula for that metric again? Some the questions struck me as unexpected and not relevant to my day-to-day.  

For those of you contemplating getting your AdWords certification or looking to get re-certified, I’ve created this guide to provide everything you need to know about the process, since it has drastically changed over the last few years. Before getting too deep into this guide you should probably ask yourself…

Should I Get Certified?

Opinions tend to vary on whether getting certified is worth the effort. WordStream PPC pro Caleb Hutchings shared his opinions in this controversial post: Why Google AdWords Certification Doesn’t Matter. To say the least, the post evoked a lot of feedback both positive and negative. While I’d like to stay somewhat neutral on the topic, I definitely agree with Caleb on this statement: “Anyone making it to the point of taking the Google AdWords Exam should already know the benefit it can provide to the business.” Well said, Caleb, well said.

So, are you a PPC specialist or consultant that would gain value from having the certification on your resume? Often explaining to a potential client that you’re AdWords Certified can help evoke a higher level of confidence to assist in convincing the client to work with you. If you’re a PPC specialist, maintaining an AdWords Certification can help strengthen your validity to your current and future employers.

At WordStream we have all of our sales and customer service specialists become certified, because we’ve found that it does add validity to conversations with leads and customers. Often people feel more secure if they’re working with a “certified professional.”

But what about gaining actual paid search skills? In my opinion, mastering paid search and AdWords comes naturally with time and experience, but getting a certification alone isn’t going to make you an expert. Rather, working directly in the interface and playing the AdWords auction, measuring results, testing, and optimizing campaigns are the activities that will lead to becoming an expert in paid search.

About the AdWords Certification Test

Sadly, getting certified requires you to take not one, but two exams. You won’t be fully certified until you pass the AdWords Fundamentals exam, and one of the additional exams, which include Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Video Advertising, Shopping Advertising or Mobile Advertising (which is currently only available in the U.S.).

Cost: Previously the exam cost $100. Luckily nowadays the exam is completely FREE!

Time: For the AdWords Fundamentals, Search Advertising, and Display Advertising exams you have 120 minutes to answer roughly 100 questions for each. For the Video Advertising, Shopping Advertising, and Mobile Advertising you have 90 minutes to answer roughly 70 questions.  

AdWords Certification test time limit and passing score graph  

*NOTE that there’s no option to pause once you’ve started the exam. The test will time you until the end even if you shut your computer down so make sure you mark off the time to focus on passing.

Passing Score: The lowest score to pass is 80%.

Retake Period: Google allows you to re-take the exam after 7 days if you fail.

How Do I Sign Up?

Step #1: Sign in to Google Partners. If you’re not already signed up for Google Partners, make sure to do so. It’s easy, and any agency or individual who manages AdWords accounts can sign up. Note, this isn’t the same thing as being deemed one of Google’s trusted partners (i.e. having Google Partner status), but it does open you up to further opportunities of that nature. Go to to sign up, and watch this video if you need help.

Step #2: Navigate to Certifications à AdWords. Once you’re signed into Google Partners you’ll see the Certifications tab on the left hand side of the screen. Below that, select AdWords, pictured below.

AdWords Certification Test screenshot showing where to find it 

Step #3: Take the Test. It’s that easy. This isn’t the SATs. You don’t need to sign up months in advance to reserve a seat. We’re part of the digital world so as long as you have a wifi connection, you can take it whenever you’re ready. Simply select the exam you’re ready to take under the AdWords Exams section, and hit “Take exam.”

AdWords Certification Test screenshot showing the "Take Exam" button 

Step #4: Repeat the Process for the Next Exam of Your Choice. I’d recommend studying for and taking each exam in chunks, starting with the AdWords Fundamentals. Once you’ve passed that, hold off on popping the champagne, and strategize as to which exam you should take next. As I said above, you can take any one of the complementary tests to become certified, so consider which area of advertising you feel would benefit you most. Are the majority of your clients in the e-commerce space? Then take shopping as your second exam. Once you’ve passed two exams (one being the Fundamentals) you’ll officially be AdWords Certified.

Preparation Tips for the AdWords Certification Tests

Before we can even talk about popping bottles, we should talk about prepping for the test. This might not be the LSAT, but you will regret not preparing, especially since the passing score has to be above 80, and you’re under a time restriction of 120 minutes.

With that said, it’s not necessary to kill yourself with stacks of flashcards and nights of sleep deprivation. Yes, some of the questions are framed in a manner that almost appears as if Google is trying to stump you, but the for the most part if you’re confident and comfortable with AdWords then passing the exam shouldn’t be an issue. The time allotted is more than enough for most, and when in doubt on certain questions, there’s no teacher standing over your shoulder and monitoring your every move – AKA you can cheat a little (as bad as that sounds).

You’ll want to divide your studies into two parts for the two exams to not overwhelm yourself. Here are some resources I recommend utilizing to get you up-to-speed.

  • Google’s Exam Study Guides: Google has a thorough study guide center to help you prepare for each exam. Personally, it’s a bit too thorough in my opinion. I don’t have time to read through the extensive content for each section of each exam that seems to lead to more and more links of information. No thanks, not happening. This simply isn’t my style, but I do find it helpful that their study guides are divided into sections because then you can opt to go through chunks of information that you may need a refresher on. I wouldn’t kill yourself printing out these pages and working through the material with a yellow highlighter. You’ll just find yourself with a headache after killing a rainforest of trees if you opt for that method.
  • iPass Exam: Ah! A much healthier option that won’t leave you with a guilty tree-killing conscious. I absolutely love this program, and recommended it in my first blog post written for WordStream. It still holds true. Their system is the perfect way to practice and pass the AdWords exams. The program gives you practice tests that ask very similar questions to the real exam. I reused the system recently before getting re-certified and noticed several duplicate questions from iPass in the live exam. These practice tests help you determine which areas need a bit more study love before attempting the test. iPass offers some free study guide resources, but their tests, which are most helpful, do cost a small fee. I’d recommend trying out the free trial and then making a case to your boss as the why it’s worth the small investment.
  • Do Real Work: This is probably the best piece of advice to pass the exam with flying colors. Unless you’re required to pass this before doing real client or in-house PPC work, then first get some actual AdWords experience under your belt. I guarantee the answers will come much more naturally this way. Even Google recommends on-the-job AdWords experience before attempting the certification tests.

Want to prep for the test even more? Check out PPC 101: A Beginner's Guide to PPC

What to Do Once You’ve Passed the Exam

You did it! You passed! Once you’ve recovered from your post-celebration hangover, you might want to start contemplating a way to promote the fact that you are indeed certified. As we discussed above the certification does help instill confidence in potential clients or employers so you should have some strategy to flaunt it.

First off, to access and print the certification, sign into your Google Partners account and select “My profile” under the overview section. Below your profile picture you’ll see the “AdWords Certified” link; click there to access and print your certification.

AdWords Certification Test my profile showing the "AdWords Certified" check 

AdWords certification test screenshot of the actual certification

To get full use of it I recommend doing the following:

 AdWords certification test screenshot showing the honor off on LinkedIn

  • Promote on any other social platforms you use for business. For example, if you’re active on Twitter add it to the description below your Twitter profile picture
  • Add the certification status to your resume, website, and business cards

Post-Exam: Staying Certified

The AdWords certification is valid for one year. Then you’ll need to renew the AdWords Fundamentals test as well as the second test of choice to maintain your fancy certification status.

AdWords Certification vs. Partner Badge

You may be wondering the difference. Put simply, individuals typically get certified and agencies get badged. To earn a badge as an agency there’s a specific process you must follow after your agency joins the partner program (note that you do not get automatic status by signing up for Google Partners). Learn more here.

There you have it. Whether it’s worth the trouble of getting certified, you decide, but this guide is here to navigate you through the trenches. 

About the Author:

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream with a background in PPC, SEM, content and digital marketing. Margot is passionate about writing and is also a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal and She enjoys running and eating ice cream during her free time (not simultaneous although that would be impressive).


Alex at RepEquity
Jul 07, 2015

Great guide Margot. Our Paid Search team holds lessons and study sessions to prepare our account managers become AdWords certified. We believe it helps with client relations regarding any questions they may ask our AM's about paid search. Thanks for sharing.

Margot da Cunha
Jul 07, 2015

Anytime Alex! I agree, WordStream does the same with our CS and sales teams. Thanks for the positive feedback, I appreciate it.

Sep 01, 2015

How Many Time attempt adwords certification test.

Dev Patel
Oct 05, 2015

@Rahul, 4 times in your life time

Tahir Marfani
Nov 19, 2015

Superb Article Share Margot. Paid Search group hold lessons & learning sessions to arrange our account managers become AdWords certified. we tend to believe it helps with consumer relations relating to any queries they will raise our AM's concerning paid search.

Nevin John
Dec 03, 2015

Very interesting article about google Adwords certification. You mentioned everything very clearly. Thanks for it. Also i have a doubt regarding no. of attempts. but some asked about it early. Thanks one again.

Richa Jain
Dec 04, 2015

You have mentioned every thing very clear to give exam. i would like to give the Google Adwords exam... But i want to know how many time i can attempt this exam. Is that possible that I can give exam by my company name or i have to attempt with personal name.

Mar 22, 2016

Those exames are realy great, becouse you become certified. But I think that they changed they policy. Before It was 85% now its 80%. Fundemental is easy but advenced search has a lot of tricky questions.

Amrita Das Bijoy
Apr 08, 2016

I am also trying to get certified from google Adwords. I think your article will help me to get that easily.

Nha Le Huynh
Apr 10, 2016

This is very helpful. Thank you.

Rachel Probert
May 16, 2016

Hey Margot,

Sorry I've been a bit slow off the mark with this. I'm not sure how I quite missed it, but Congratulations!... and also a sincere thank you for mentioning and using iPassExam! If anyone else wants to try us out for free then you could try our Introduction to AdWords resource at:

And also... If you do purchase there is a 10% discount at the checkout if you use our social share button.

Sep 21, 2016

Its really very helpful because mentioned all the steps of AdWords Certification Test describe in easy way & I also got it about the AdWords Fundamentals, Search Advertising, Display Advertising exams time & passing score.

Feb 07, 2017


I am trying for Adwords Certification . what does it mean that If i finish before the time of 2 hrs alloted for exam I fail or if even one qs remains after the time alloted then too I fail. Can you please clarify this doubt.


Allen Finn
Feb 07, 2017


There is no penalty for completing the certification test early.


Kishan Soni
Mar 17, 2017

Really, very helpful information you have shared here. Thanks for sharing such detailed information.

Apr 02, 2017

Would love to do this and I did work for a company managing AdWords accounts of about $100,000 per/year spend but now I unemployed and would like to get AdWords certified but I no longer manage any AdWords accounts.

Am I out-of-luck? Any other way to promote my AdWords skills (10+ years) without having certification?

May 01, 2017

Do you think someone can see you what score you took at the exam? I mean after you took the exams can anyone see your score? Or you can see what score you took? Thank you

Nov 02, 2017

Amazing Article! Its very helpful for Google Ad Words exam thank for sharing

Nov 29, 2017

Great article, thanks for sharing. I have 3 specific questions:

1. I found the Google official AdWords Certification Study Material quite exhausting as new links keep appearing on every nested page and after a point I just gave up. Back in 2014 I'd downloaded a PDF "Search Binder" with 427 pages. I'd finished this and cleared both tests (Fundamentals & Advanced). Should I just re-read the same PDF and take the test? Or have there been significant changes to the test that render the old PDF dated?

2. I've never worked at an AdWords account and am at the moment without employment - so won't be able to invest dollars in trying bidding strategies ;) Can I still clear the tests?

3. Currently Google Partners shows following other certifications - Analytics, Mobile Sites and Digital Sales. Can all these tests be taken without actually managing an AdWords account?

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