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Google offers the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) which serves as a formal recognition of knowledge in one of the most widely used analytic tools.  If you’re considering taking the exam here are some tips that will help you get your GAIQ as well as gaining “expert” bragging rights.

The GAIQ exam can seem a little daunting at first glance but with the right preparation you’ll do just fine.  Google Analtyics is a tool that’s easy to learn but tough to master.  Whatever your experience level may be prior to the exam, I would definitely recommend taking a good amount of time to really saturate yourself in the appropriate material before you take the plunge and write the test.  There are a handful of nooks and crannies in the application that, even after many years of use, I never found.  You’ll also discover that there may be better practices in using the tools you’re already familiar with.

Straight from the source

If you haven’t already found it, Google Analytics has a learning page which includes some very easy to understand videos right from Google themselves.  It’s a really great place to start the learning process, especially if you’ve had little exposure to the actual tool itself.  As a Google Analtyics (GA) veteran watching these videos, I found that while I knew the majority of the material being presented, there were quite a handful of gems that made me spring up in my chair and really tune in.  Low and behold, a few of those gems showed up on the exam and made the process of watching the presentations worth the time invested.  Many people tend to stop at this source assuming it’s enough information.  However, it’s beneficial to the learning process to hear the same material in a few different ways – especially if this isn’t your preferred method – and to top it off, some of the material on here is for older versions of GA.  Make sure you press on!

Get your hands dirty

If at any point during your training process you’re confused regarding a particular subject, you should jump right into GA and try to apply that knowledge in a practical sense.  A good chunk of what you’ll need to know revolves around having administrative access, so make sure your account is configured accordingly.  Viewing the data in a more practical setting helps you put concepts into an understandable perspective.  As well as working in GA, you should also be running through a basic implementation and dropping in the javascript code to a site of your choice.  There are a lot of options out there to set up a free site as your personal sandbox.

Rubber Ducking

A big sticking point for a lot of non-programmer GAIQ test takers is the coding portions.  Most GA users are used to simply copying and pasting the needed code into their pages.  For the GAIQ you really need to understand what that code does and the various portions of it.  The exam has quite a number of code based questions so this is definitely unavoidable.  As a web coder myself, I often find myself diving into languages I hadn’t worked with in the past.  However, the great thing about coding is that the concepts are the same, just the syntax is different.  A great way to form a solid understanding is by “rubber ducking” where you explain every bit of code to an inanimate object, such as a rubber duck.  Line by line, character by character, you explain why its there and what it does.  The good thing about javascript is its one of the easier languages to learn and very well documented.

Benefit from the Experience of Others

All of the aforementioned will cover a lot of understanding the technical portions of GA.  If you really want to knock that exam out of the park you’re going to want to not only understand the “how” portions of GA but also the “why”.  Cardinal Path has a few Google Analytics webinars on our website that will help you tap into the experience of  seasoned GA veterans.  They don’t cover every single concept out there but its good to hear how the tool is applied to achieve various goals.

Cardinal Path Training

The last step I personally took right before diving into the test was attending a Cardinal Path Google Analytics training event.  Classes take place all over North America, and are bound to end up in a city near you in the future.  The best part of this training is that the concepts covered are not cast in concrete like a video, document, or presentation.  The instructor provided detailed information on past experiences with real world clients that can expand your knowledge of GA.  The attendees threw a lot number of unique problems into the mix that the instructors were able to provide real world solutions to their issues.

Overall, taking the above steps will go a long way into ensuring a passing score on the GAIQ.  Depending on your particular style of learning, some methods may be more helpful than others, but all of the major angles can be covered through presentations, face to face learning, documentation, and hands on experience.  Always keep in mind that you’re not just studying for a test while doing this – the GAIQ is just a stepping stone on your path to mastering this analytic tool!