How many times does a user visit your site before they finally make a purchase? What page on your site has the highest exit rate? How many people visit your site and leave after viewing only the first page? If you run a blog, an ecommerce store, or any kind of web property and aren’t asking these questions — you should be! Don’t worry. You’re not alone in thinking the world of digital analytics is an intimidating beast to tackle, however, rest assured, there are some amazing resources to get you up and running in no time.
Although there are hundreds of analytic tools out there, without a doubt the most well known and widely used is Google Analytics. This isn’t a mistake by any means, Google has structured a truly innovative and usable tool that millions of people utilize to answer the aforementioned questions. Although this piece of software is inherently intuitive, the learning curve to can be rigorous. Luckily, Google provides many resources to empower users to understand and implement tangible analytics concepts and applications. Of all the blog posts, FAQ’s, videos, and resources out there, the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) is the clearest track to a successful understanding of analytic theory and practices.
What is the GAIQ?
The Google Analytics Individual Qualification is a certification test consisting of 70 questions pertaining to analytic theory, vocabulary, application, and the Google Analytics platform itself. The test is multiple choice, however, it may be one of the hardest multiple choice tests you’ll ever take. Many of the tasks require the test taker to ‘select all that apply’ from a frustratingly vague set of answers. Google will even slip in a sneaky ‘none of these’ option for those especially uncertain questions.
Google allots you 90 minutes to take the exam, however, you can pause it as much as you want at any point in time. That said, you’ll have to complete the test within 72 hours of starting it.
Why This Test is Relevant to You
After you complete the GAIQ you don’t get a framed plaque (or even a physical certificate, they email it). There’s no graduation party and you don’t have any classmates. So why is it worth your time?
As we established previously, a comprehensive understanding of analytics practices and principles is no walk in the park, furthermore, the GAIQ is the most powerful tool to lay a solid foundation of understanding and application in this area in hope of testing, growing, and improving your business. Walking away with a passing score (an 80% or more on the exam) will ensure, in Google’s eyes, you have a complete enough understanding of their platform to ask critical and constructive questions and apply theories and principles towards understanding the improving your digital platform.
Will this exam make you a complete master of Google Analytics? No. It will, however, set you up perfectly to further your understanding of Google Analytics and other analytic platforms as well. You’ll have the knowledge to ask the right questions as well as the awareness and ability to easily find the answers.
5 Tips to Help You Pass the GAIQ on the First Try
This isn’t going to be one of those tests where you slept through the semester and somehow aced the final — if you have some analytics skills under your belt you’re a step farther head of the game, however, this race isn’t a hundred yard dash, it’s a marathon. You’ll want to do your best to not only understand the information, but retain and apply it as well. I had close to zero understanding of analytics or the Google Analytic platform whatsoever, here are the steps I took to pass the test on my first try within 14 days from when I started studying.
Tip #1: Read About Other Test Experiences
Over 30,000 people have taken the GAIQ and a handful of them have written about their experiences (as I am right now). It’s invaluable to know what type of test you’re studying for before you even start studying. Below are some great resources I used to help formulate my understanding of the task I had ahead of me:
- Moz has a great outline of the exam
- Distilled has a great resource outlining the format of the exam in more depth
- Decisive Design has great framework/resources for approaching the exam
Tip #2: Complete the Google Analytic Fundamentals Course
Google has put a significant amount of work into creating an online course that will give you all the basic information you need to pass the GAIQ. This intensive, at-your-own-pace online course is called Digital Analytics Fundamentals and is a ‘must take’ for any analytic newbie (like myself). This online class is broken up into six units with various sub-units in each section. It’s a safe bet to allot 10-15 hours to complete this course depending on how quick of a learner you are and how much analytic knowledge you already have.
Tip #3: Take Notes When Completing the Analytics Fundamentals Course
I cannot stress enough the importance and helpfulness of the course. The six units (with an average of three subunits each), consisting of a video, a transcribed text version of the video, and a few practice test questions (a few of which, actually showed up on the exam, word for word) take varying amounts of time and brainpower to complete.
Since each subunit has a video in it, Google has transcribed all of them into a transcript located on the top right of each subunit for you. In my studying, I read and took notes on each transcribed text section then watched each video uninterrupted. This allowed me to be exposed to all of the information in each section at least twice. This repetition allowed me to ensure I absorbed as much data as I possibly could. I compiled all my notes into a single document that provided an invaluable study guide and test taking resource. You can access my giant document of notes here to use as a resource for yourself :)
Tip #4: Read the Additional Resources within the Units
Google will try to trick you on this exam. There’s no question about that. They want to ensure you have an exceptional understanding of their platform before they give a certification. Because of that, they’ll phrase answers to be remarkably similar to the correct answer, however, not exactly right.
In reading the transcriptions of the videos, Google will reference a handful of documents in their FAQ and support articles here and there. It’s very easy to let laziness kick in and just breeze over those articles. I mean, you’re already putting so much time and effort into reading and watching these videos. A skipped article here and there can’t hurt, right? Wrong. These articles, blog posts, and resources are inserted for a reason, often times for more completed or important concepts Google wants to ensure you comprehend (maybe to apply on, say, a test later… wink wink).
Take the time, read the articles, and take notes where necessary. Also, in the large documents of notes I attached above, I included notes I took on the extra articles :)
Tip #5: Pause the Test While Taking It
From start to finish — the test probably took me 4 hours to complete (I’m a slow, thorough test taker, additionally, I didn’t want to pay another $50 test fee). However, you only have 90 minutes of active test time to complete the exam. So, this is the pro tip of all pro tips — read the question, write it down, pause the test, and do some research. Then when you’re confident in your answer, un-pause the test and list your answer. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
In doing this, I had an additional 65 minutes left over when I finished the exam. It would be an unfortunate situation to be rushing to submit your last 5 questions with only a few minutes left. Set yourself up for success and provide yourself the luxury of having one less thing to worry about while taking the GAIQ by pausing and un-pausing the test as frequently as necessary :)
So You’ve Passed the GAIQ — What Now?!
Woot! You’ve passed, you’re part of the club, you know the secret handshake, your member jacket is in the mail, and your invitation to the secret LinkedIn group is pending…
… just kidding, none of those perks exist ;) But the best perk of all does: the foundation to ask about and apply critical and beneficial analytic concepts and practices!
Don’t get ahead of yourself, you’re not an analytic master yet, more of just an analytic master in training. However, what you do have is an amazing skillset to ease into things. As the Google documentation talks about, there are so much data that Google Analytics tracks, the worst thing you can do is get lost in all that data and try to track too many things.
In Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz’s book Lean Analytics they echo this sentiment stressing the importance of the OMTM (One Metric That Matters). This One Metric That Matters is just that: a key metric that you’ve defined as an indication of success in your business at this specific time. Although this metric can change as your business grows, it’s all you focus on right now.
With your newly developed skills, you have the ability to determine this metric for your business and develop funnels, dashboards, and charts around this metric. After that, you can make tweaks, test, and implement changes making your business more profitable. So, what are you waiting for? Start Tracking!
Have you taken or passed the GAIQ? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below.