How To Fail The Google Analytics Exam

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No Simple Feat

I’m about to call my own bluff with this blog post.

I took the Google Analytics Certification exam yesterday and received a grade of 75%. I missed a passing grade by 5 points. Hi. In the fallout during the post mortem monologue/rant – and there was fallout, and some thrashing about, and some piss and vinegar – I passed through various emotional gates and finally arrived this morning at a place called reason. OH and OH again! How I had pinned so much hope on passing that exam. It would be THE thing that opened new employment opportunities for me, THE thing that would get me that great marketing gig I’ve been chasing all these months… Cold water bath.

The Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) Test

On the surface I have to admit the exam was much trickier than I could have anticipated. While the 21 study modules seemed straight-forward enough they, simply put, were NOT enough. [Lesson learned from a hard science POV: Joe, you’ll need to spend much more time actually riding your GA tractor through the unplowed quantitative fields of your website data. No way around it.] And here’s the bluff. I thought that by memorizing the study material I could squeeze under the Google fence and then blind my audience with the glint of my new GA badge as I crossed the Google graduation stage. Turns out, the folks at Google are not a bunch of pushovers. They actually ask exam questions framed around critical thinking and problem-solving. Who would have guessed? And you have to actually know how to use the product to pass the exam. Bummer.

Some Specifications: The test is 70 multiple choice questions. You have 90 minutes to answer all questions. You can pause the exam at anytime – your answers will be saved. However the test expires after 5 days. There is a $50.00 charge to take the exam. If you fail, you can take the exam again.  You receive your grade immediately upon finishing the exam. NOTE: I did not write down or make a record of any of the exam questions.

Chasing After False Idols

What was I thinking!? I’m the first one to rail against mediocrity in any form and here I was trying to fool the system. And in a larger sense I was trying to fool any potential employers into believing that I was some kind of GA Ninja. Shame. OK, receiving a grade of 75% on the exam by only “kinda trying” does say something about me (dangerous person) but sooner or later I would have been called out on my inability to use Google Analytics – a tool I find so wonderful and fascinating. And being called out like that is not good for anyone. Not for me, not for the folks I work for. I was chasing after false idols.

Advice For Passing The Google Analytics Individual Qualification Test

  • Use it: I advise you to actually use the GA software before you take the exam. (Its free by the way.) Reach a level of comfort with all of its capabilities and aspects including how it integrates with Adwords. Learn where the controls are, the difference between a metric and dimensions, etc. A good soldier can take apart his/her rifle blindfolded – think in those terms of familiarity.
  • Book: Read and understand  Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik. You might also want to subscribe to his blog Occam’s Razor.
  • Another Book: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton is a very recent additioin to the books on GA and seen by many as an excellent resource. (See Brian’s comment below.)
  • YouTube: Subscribe to the Google Analytics YouTube Channel and watch the videos.
  • GAIQ Lessons: Make the Google Analytics IQ Lessons part of your life.
  • Practice Exam: Run by Eric Fettman, Google Analytics Test is a free training resource for GAIQ preparation and real-world Google Analytics Skills.

The Path of Morality – And Web Analytics Mastery

So, last night, as I sat outside the walls of the great Google tower, listening to the revelry from within and stewing in my chameleon juices, it became clear to me that there is another path. As in; “How about actually learning how to use Google Analytics then take the exam.” And for support, I sent a Tweet to the master, Avinash Kaushik.  And the master Tweeted back; “I would encourage you to skip forward to Web Analytics 2.0.”  And so that’s just what I plan on doing. I’ve shaved my head, I’ve wrapped myself in monks clothes and I plan on immersing myself in a little number called Web Analytics 2.0. I’ll also be following my own advice as outlined above.

Bravo to Google for creating an exam that weeds out the trouble-makers!

 Hire Joe Kyle

I am currently seeking a full-time opportunity in the Boston area within the discipline of social media marketing, business development, or corporate communications. Please visit for more information. Thank you.

P.S. I’m also in training for my Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam.


10 Responses to How To Fail The Google Analytics Exam

  1. Karen April 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I’m hoping to prep for and take the exam over the summer, having just completed my HubSpot Certification recently. Thanks for the tips on where to start studying!

  2. Eric Fettman April 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Joe, sorry for the 5% differential…

    If you decide to take the exam again, or if you just want to review many real-world scenarios for Google Analytics, please check out It’s a completely free resource, and I’ve received good feedback on it, for both GAIQ prep and just practical skill building.

    Best of luck in all your analytics endeavors.

  3. Brian Clifton April 24, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Thanks for the book mention Joe.

    BTW, the GAIQ learning centre and exam is a legacy of my work at Google – something I am still very proud of. Most product development comes from the mother ship in Mountain View, so it was nice of my team to give back a European innovation 😉

  4. Chris Angulo June 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    I passed the test today with a 85%. I’m feeling pretty good!

  5. jkyle June 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Well done Chris! It’s a great feeling to be on the other side of the GA exam. Best of luck. Joe.

  6. Craig R Morton November 11, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    This is really good advice, good on you for actually giving tips on why you feel you failed the exam. I am in a similar boat at this moment in time. I have gone through the GAIQ videos and read Justin Cutroni’s Google Analytics book, but now i’m getting to the point where I need to use Analytics more to get an understanding of how to use it rather than the theory behind it.

    I have access to my employer’s Analytics account, as well as my own, so I think I will have to take advantage of this and get into it.

  7. Nicole April 12, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    I love the honesty! I just sat through the lessons myself and took a lot of notes and thought it wasn’t that bad. Then I tried the practice test above and now I’m thinking that I won’t be able to skate by. And I was right! I’m glad I found this because now you’ve given me the tools to continue on and actually educate myself. Thank you!!!

  8. jkyle May 14, 2014 at 8:09 pm #


    I did pass (almost two years ago now.) on my second try. The first time I missed by 6 points with a score of 74. The second time I passed with a score of 81. Not an easy exam. Ultimately I could not find work where the certification would be of any use. (In other words, it did not help me land a job). Thus I’ve let my certification lapse. But, I wish you all the best. This book, “Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton”, was of enormous help to me in passing the exam.

  9. ice fishing chairs March 25, 2017 at 5:55 am #

    I like this web blog so much, saved to fav.


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