Updated: March 4, 2021

Whether you’re new to Google Ads or just seeking re-certification, this guide will help you understand what’s required for certification, what to expect on the exams, which exams to take, how to prepare, and how to pass on the first try.

Unless you’ve used Google Ads Search, Display, Shopping, Apps, Video and/or Reporting extensively with a high volume of data and a large ad spend, I’d suggest setting aside a few hours per course to study and prepare for the certification exams. I found the 2021 exams to be a lot more detailed, in-depth, and hands-on than previous exams.

If you’re also working on getting a Google Analytics certification, be sure to read our primer on that test: How to Pass the Google Analytics Exams.

Let’s get started, shall we?

About the Google Ads Certification Exams

For 2021, Google Ads offers certification in six specialties: Search, Display, Video, Measurement, Apps, and Shopping Ads. Google tends to change the certification courses based on platform and product offering, so a few of these (Measurement, Apps) are new for 2021, replacing Mobile and Ads Fundamentals. I’ve taken and passed the exams for Search, Display, and Video. I’d suggest choosing the platforms that are most relevant for your business, industry, or job function.

Here’s what you can expect for each course and the focus of its certification exam:

  • Search: This course is geared towards setting up, optimizing, and managing successful campaigns on the Search Network, including mastery of automated bidding and audience solutions.
  • Display: This course focuses on understanding Display Network strategies, ad types, performance planning, and audience types.
  • Video: For the 2021 exams, this course pays special attention to the value of YouTube for content creators, including how to produce and craft engaging videos. Audiences, ad types, and targeting are also key focus areas.
  • Measurement: This course helps users understand how to measure the effectiveness of their Google campaigns, how to set measurable goals, and how to demonstrate success in your marketing objectives.
  • Apps: This course is designed to help users create and manage app campaigns that drive specific business goals by mastering the fundamentals and advanced optimization strategies.
  • Shopping Ads: This course helps users set up and optimize their shopping campaigns to maximize conversions and reach while also tracking ROI.

What’s New for the 2021 Google Ads Exam?

For 2021, the Google Ads certification exams focus heavily on:

  • The Performance Planner tool
  • Audience types (Affinity, Custom Affinity, In-Market, Similar Audiences)
  • Automated bidding strategies and machine learning
  • Ad types across all platforms, but especially for Display and Video
  • The value of YouTube, and its projected growth

How to Prepare for the Google Ads Exam

For Google Ads users who work in the platform daily, using advanced optimization techniques while managing a high ad spend, there won’t be much here to surprise you. However, it’s worth taking the knowledge check assessment and going through the courses at a high level to make sure you understand the latest features, as well as audiences or ad types that you don’t use regularly.

If you’re new to Google Ads, it’d be best to go through each course carefully, take every assessment, and study up on any assessment questions you get wrong. I’d also suggest retaking assessments until you pass with a 100%.

The Skillshop classes are adequate for the bulk of the Search certification test questions, but the more advanced courses will require experience with using the platforms regularly. If you want the certification, but don’t have a lot of experience in Google Ads, it’d be a good idea to get access to an account with a lot of historic data, and maybe talk to the account manager about how they run and manage campaigns.

What’s on the Exam

The Google Ads exam will cover:

  • Basic account setup and configuration
  • Advanced optimization strategies
  • Automated solutions like audience types and smart bidding
  • Ad types
  • Google Ads benefits for marketers
  • Performance Planner recommended use

Again, the Skillshop classes will provide you with most of the knowledge needed to pass the certification exam of your choice, but having access to and an understanding of high-spend Google Ads campaigns will help ensure you pass on the first try.

Also, make sure you pay close attention to the wording on certification exam questions. The wording of both the questions and answers can be quite tricky, so read everything very carefully before answering and moving to the next question.

What Resources to Use During the Exam

When it’s time to take the certification exam of your choice, you’ll do so using Skillshop, where you’ve taken all the courses. During the exam, you may need to reference the following information, so it’s best to have it open in another tab:

  • The Skillshop courses and assessments
  • The Google Help Center
  • An active Google Ads account with plenty of historic data

Anything Else?

In many cases on the Google Ads certification exams, several of the multiple choice questions will technically be correct answers. In these cases, choose the answer that is most correct. It will also benefit you to understand Google’s rhetoric about why its solutions and platforms are beneficial to marketers and business owners.

That’s it for now! Best of luck to all test takers!