I detest taking tests. So when I learned I would have to take the Microsoft adExcellence exam, it was enough to make me want to fake sick, convince my best friend to let me take his father’s prized Ferrari convertible on a joyride to downtown Chicago, and inevitably end up on lip synching twist and shout on top a float in the Von Steuben Day Parade.

My main area of concern was how much time it would take to study. I have managed accounts in adCenter for 6 months, but am much more familiar with AdWords and I spent weeks preparing for those exams! When I began studying though I was relieved to find out the adExcellence exam was focused more on the basics and overall best practices. I spent two days studying, maybe 6 hours total, and was able to pass with a 96%. I want to share my experience in preparing for the adCenter exam to provide reassurance to any of you who dislike test taking as much as I do.

AdExcellence Exam Quick Facts

Number of questions: 100

Time: 90 minutes

Passing score: 80%

Cost: $50. If you don’t pass the exam, you will have to pay the $50 each time you retake it.

Length of accreditation: 1 year, you must retake the exam and pay the fee each year

Requirements: You have to have a Windows Live ID to take the exam. You also must currently manage at least one adCenter account. The test is available to all English markets served by adCenter, which I believe is the US, Canada, and the UK.

How To Study For The Exam

I used two resources to study for the exam: MSN’s training videos and Elizabeth Marsten’s adExcellence exam series on Portent Interactive.

Microsoft adExcellence program offers free video training to prepare you for the accreditation exam. Together the videos total over 2 hours, and that’s without going back to review parts or taking notes. I did watch them all, but found a lot of the information to be information I already knew from working in the accounts. If you are experienced with Microsoft adCenter it is not necessary to watch every video. However, if you are new to adCenter you should definitely watch all of the videos and taking notes.

Elizabeth Marsten’s series was another incredibly helpful tool in preparing for the exam. She has watched all of the training videos and posted the key takeaways from each, along with screen shots from the presentations.  I would watch a section of videos and then read over Marsten’s corresponding post as a review.  Looking back, I could have skipped watching some of the more basic videos and just read her posts instead.  So she has posted her review for the first 5 sections of videos and it seems like parts 6 and 7 will be out within the next two months.

Why You Should Take The Exam

When you pass the adExcellence exam, you become an adExcellence member. This means you can display the logo on your website and will be listed in the adExcellence membership directory. Companies with at least 3 certified individuals can also become members of the directory. This designation can be useful in reassuring clients that you or your company are qualified to manage campaigns in adCenter.

If a logo or directory listing isn’t all the impressive to you, I want to point out that I also learned valuable information from studying for the exam. I now understand dynamic keyword insertion and discovered that adCenter’s broad match doesn’t work in quite the same way as Adword’s. These are key pieces of information I can use to improve my adCenter accounts.

Good luck to those of you who may soon be taking the adExcellence exam. If you have any questions or more tips for preparing for the exam please post below!