In the world of digital marketing, so-called “experts” are a dime a dozen. One way to distinguish yourself is to become a real expert. Since measurement is so important, I recommend you start with digital analytics. And Google is the king of analytics for most websites. According to one estimate, almost 70 percent of the top 10,000 websites use Google Analytics.
Fortunately, Google has created materials and an exam to support your quest. The exam used to cost $50 to take, which kept many of my students from attempting it. Today it’s free. While the old exam was timed, you could mark questions and return to them. The new exam is linear; you start at question one and take them in order. You must answer 70 questions in 90 minutes. You need to get 80 percent correct or more to earn the certification. If you fail, you can retake the exam after one week.
Here’s how to pass the new Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam:
Step 1. You’ll need working knowledge of Google Analytics
You should already be familiar with and using Google Analytics. It helps if you can get access to a variety of accounts. You’ll definitely want access to an ecommerce account. If you can’t get access to one, you can gain access to the Google demo account. This is for the Google merchandise store, where you can purchase Google logo merchandise such as water bottles, T-shirts and backpacks.
It’s also essential that you have full access to an account at the administrator level. This kind of account is the only way you can perform some advanced activities, such as writing filters.
Step 2. Study at the Google Analytics Academy
Google has created learning activities to help you learn how to use their tools. Most lessons are video- and activity-based. There are five courses available:
- Digital Analytics Fundamentals
- Google Analytics Platform Principles
- Ecommerce Analytics: From Data to Decisions
- Mobile App Analytics Fundamentals
- Google Tag Manager Fundamentals
I suggest watching these over time, taking in a couple of videos in each session. As you watch them, apply the lessons on your GA accounts, and take notes in a text file. I suggest one long text file, so when you’re taking the exam you can CTL-F the relevant keywords easily. Take the practice assessment at the end of each class; these questions are close to what you’ll see on the GAIQ. You should also look at the Google Analytics IQ Study Guide, a text-based resource.
You may think of Google Analytics in a narrow, limited way. The exam uses Google Analytics as the center of measuring sophisticated marketing campaigns. So expect questions about AdWords, Tag Manager, display advertising and mobile app tracking. These are all covered in the five courses.
Step 3. Take the exam
Since it’s free to take, you might as well take it cold and see how you do. Sign up at Google Partners where you’ll create an account. You might pass on the first try. If you don’t, use this experience to improve your performance.
I breezed through it and came within one question of passing. While I was initially disappointed, I had it coming. I only spent 25 of the 90 minutes allotted. Had I carefully checked just one or two answers, I would have passed. My takeaway is that 90 minutes is actually a lot of time, and you shouldn’t stress if you have to look something up. Just look it up. It will improve your score.
The hardest questions have multiple responses. Miss one and the question is wrong. It’s also essential to re-read questions to make sure you answer with precision.
Unfortunately, you don’t get feedback on which questions you missed. You just get the number correct and the final percentage.
Step 4. Repeat
When you’re ready to re-take the exam, create an interruption-free place. Get a glass of water and turn off all your other devices. Choose a time of day when you’re sharp. The exam offers a time remaining meter on the bottom of your screen. Be thoughtful and deliberate. I was able to instantly answer about 25 percent of the questions. The rest, I checked my notes and the extensive support offered by Google. I copied the phrase “Google Analytics” to the clipboard to facilitate faster searches. I also favored Google-owned pages when checking details, because they use language consistent with the exam. At the time of the exam, I had the following windows open on my computer:
- The exam
- My text document of notes from the study sessions
- An active Google Analytics account
- Various SERPs from checking answers (close these as you use them)
Searching efficiently alone won’t get you to the goal line. There are a fair number of interpretation-based questions. Either you know this process or you don’t.
If you pass, you’ll earn the GAIQ Certificate, which is good for 18 months. On my second try I earned 88 percent; it took me 80 minutes.
Regardless of how you perform on the exam, the act of preparing and taking it will help you become a better analyst. That’s the real reward of going through this process.
Here are some other posts on taking and passing the GAIQ:
Good luck, and let me know what worked for you in the comments, below.