I recently took and passed my Google Analytics IQ (GAIQ) test, and it was a worthwhile experience. I’m sure there’s a lot of people wondering if it’s something they should do or not, and the answer is maybe. If you’re someone in the industry, this kind of certification can be a great assurance to clients and your employer that you’re up to the task. The Google name carries weight relative to many of the made-up certifications nobody cares about available to you on the internet, and that can never hurt. If I were going to hire someone, it certainly shows initiative to go through the process and at the very least demonstrates competency and every little bit counts. However, you definitely don’t need to take the test in order to operate Google Analytics effectively. Many people find great uses for GA without going near the exam and that’s fine too. But I think the true value of going through the process of preparing for the GAIQ test is learning where to find information that will help your analytics experience, and thinking more broadly in the ways it can be used.
-PREPARING FOR THE EXAM-
GAIQ LESSONS – Assuming you have a Google Analytics account and are somewhat familiar with it, the first place to start is with the Google Analytics IQ Lessons. This is the bible for passing the exam. As far as I could tell, all of the questions were covered specifically in the lessons so you don’t need to worry too much about far-fetched theoretical scenarios. Watch the videos a few times, take notes on concepts you’re shaky on, and practice in real life. I can’t stress this enough, the point of the exam is to get better at Google Analytics. You can take short cuts if you want and you might still pass, but in the end it won’t do you any good.
USE GOOGLE ANALYTICS – This is obvious, but just do it. Get in there, try things out, explore tools and functions and really understand how they work. Know all the metrics and what they’re useful for. The test will throw some hypotheticals at you and if you have a strong understanding of the tools and their purposes you’ll be fine.
Another great resource is Google Analytics Test. Yes, it’s basically the same name, but it’s not associated with Google at all. This site is a test resource where you can take practice tests and assess your skill level. This site is most useful because it’s significantly harder than the actual GAIQ test, so if you do well, you’re in good shape.
-TAKING THE EXAM-
First, relax, you’re going to have plenty of time. You have 90 minutes to complete the exam and you can pause it any time you want. Once you start, you have to complete it within 5 days, but that should be plenty of time for any normal person. You can also mark and return to questions at the end so you’ll have every opportunity to get it right. Answer the ones you know, don’t get hung up on anything for too long, and if you need to, dig back into your notes or the lessons and find an answer. As I said before, the test is as much a learning process as it is an examination- you won’t be able to review answers after you submit the test so you might as well know them while you take it.
When I took the test I had one browser window open for the test, and another filled with tabs of resources. SEOMoz recommends keeping handy the Google Analytics IQ lessons, your Analytics account, the Google Help Center, and Jens Sorenson’s test notes. I didn’t really use the videos because I didn’t feel like digging back through them, but the Help Center is invaluable and Jens’ notes are pretty nice too especially if you use the “find” function to get at information.
-YOU WILL PASS-
But maybe you won’t, and then you’ll have to wait 14 days and then you can take it again, although you’ll want to pass it the first time because it’s $50 per test. You need an 80% to pass and my test had 67 questions so that’s at least 54 correct to pass, which was no problem for me. But really, I think you’ll pass and you’ll be happy you did because if you do it right, you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of Google Analytics and how you can use it more effectively. Whether you’re practicing analytics for a living or using it on your personal website or business, Google Analytics can help you evolve your tactics, refine your focus, and demonstrate progress (or diagnose problems), and no-matter what you use it for, that’s what it’s all about!
Any questions? I’m sure there’s plenty of things I didn’t mention that you may be thinking about so hit me up in the comments. This was my way of approaching the exam and it worked for me, but I’d be happy to help any way I can.