Taking the Google Certified Educator exams: Gmail

As part of my board’s plan to actively prepare students to succeed in 21st century learning environments, I had suggested that our Ed Tech Champs, as well as a few other key players in NeCDSB’s migration to Google Apps for Education, become Google Certified Educators. In the end, we decided that this would be a voluntary certification for our Champs to obtain, however if they choose to, the board will pay for their exams and give them release time to prepare for and take the exams. Google exams, prior to the NEW Google Apps for Education certification exams, were $15 USD each, and you are required to pass 5 exams to receive certification. A pass is 80%. The exams are comprised of 60 questions, and you have 90 minutes to complete your exam. A timer is provided on your screen, and also, a timer is displayed for each question you are responding to in order to help you keep to approximately 1.5 minutes per question. This was a very handy feature for me. The mandatory exams are: Gmail, Drive/Docs, Calendar and Sites. You can choose your 5th exam from an Electives list which includes (but is not limited to) Google Play for Education, Chromebooks and Chrome. I chose Chrome as my 5th exam. If you Google “google certified educator exams”, or something to that effect, you may come across the old training site and this information in red under “Become a Google Educator”:

The Google Educator exams will be unavailable for purchase from April 8 through June 28 while the Google for Education certification programs are undergoing a small update to better serve our users. Please note that this does NOT affect exams that have already been purchased.

Anyone who has purchased exams is still able to achieve their certification after successfully passing the 4 required exams and 1 elective within 90 days. If you have any more questions, please contact gfe-certifications@google.com.

Since I (and my work partner) purchased the exams prior to April 8th, we will still receive the “old” Google Certified Educator certification. PLUS, and this is a big one, we’ll get 180 days to complete our exams, rather than the standard 90 days, to compensate for the exams being out of circulation from April 8 – June 28. This occurs if you started your exams prior to June 28th, which we did – on June 25th. So, if all goes well, my partner and I will be Google Certified Educators (old school style) by Christmas 2015.

Hello Melissa,

Thank you for your inquiry. The shopping cart is closed until June 28th. You will have to wait until this time to purchase the needed exams. If you begin your exams between April 1st and June 28th, you will have 180 days to complete the full set (extended from 90 days to account for the time the exams are unavailable). So, if you already have the exams on your account, you will be able to take them and complete them and become certified as there is no reason to wait to complete them.

In regards to test access. Once you access/start a test it must be completed within 48 hours. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

The above quote was an email I received from Client Support at Google in response to my question about 90 days versus 180 days to complete my exams.

This brings me to the main content and intention of this post!

We wanted to start our Google certification big, and one way to do that is to start with Gmail. Gmail is notoriously the “hardest” exam of all. I think this is because most people typically use Gmail as their email provider, so they assume it will be easy. Trust me when I say it’s not that simple. While my partner and I passed our exams, it is because we helped each other out and took them one after the other all in one morning, so that we remained in the “zone”. This is the strategy I recommend most to everyone out there – work with a partner or group of people. Help each other out. It’s the Google way. Collaborate on answers. This was immensely helpful.

Our Gmail exam strategy:

  • 2 people who have used Gmail since its BETA days
  • 4 monitors, all using the Chrome browser – my partner may have been using Firefox (1 monitor was dedicated entirely to the exam, because it takes over your screen when you start, the other 3 a cross between the following sites: Advanced Gmail Lessons, Gmail Help, and Gmail itself)
  • CTRL-F if using a PC, or CMD-F if using a Mac (otherwise known as “lurch for the search” – press these keys and an omnibox appears in the top RH corner of your screen so you can quickly type in a question) Screenshot 2015-07-13 15.10.44
  • Office chairs on wheels (we were like Cirque du Soleil at various high-intensity points during the exams)
  • Diet Pepsi (this kept us going for exam morning)

It’s not an exact science, but it worked for both of us on the first try! We studied the Advanced Lessons in Gmail beforehand (see link above in bullet point 2), but we have also played around with many of Gmail’s features that the typical user may not use on a daily basis. Part of our jobs is to troubleshoot and help educators with Google apps, so we are already in this mindset. During the exam, we also had both our personal and Google Apps for Education Gmail pages open so that we could test out different scenarios/questions to prove our answers right, and this proved to be very helpful as well. I’d recommend that you do this too, if you can spare the monitor space! You can also do split screen, although some may find that too crowded. It’s really a personal preference.

What do you see when you start your Google exam?

First, when you purchase your exams by creating an account in the Training Center and login to take your exams, it will look like this:  IMG_0639

It will indicate the exams you have chosen, and remind you that you have 48 hours from the point where you open/start your exam in order to complete your exam.

This is the screen you see prior to starting your exam – read the instructions carefully and take deep, calming breaths! This “Key Features” screen informs you that you can go back and review questions by “marking” them (clicking on the box at the bottom RH corner so that a checkmark appears). It keeps track of the questions you have marked to Review, and then you can go back without stressing out about which ones you weren’t sure about  in order to look into those questions further. As well, there is an option where you can “strike-through” the incorrect choices in the multiple choice questions. This is a great visual. IMG_0640

What kinds of questions?

While the questions will differ from exam to exam, I found that there were a lot of questions geared toward Advanced Search options in Gmail, mobile applications, labels and some scenario and Admin-type questions. This could, of course, differ from the content of your exam, but this was my experience. We found that we had enough time after the exam to review all of our questions, and I even went through each and every screen and took a picture of each question with my iPhone. When you submit your exam, it will only tell you if you Pass or Fail, along with your percentage (must be 80 or better) – it will not indicate which questions you had incorrectly answered. Should you fail an exam, you will have to re-take the exam and pay the fee again. You must wait 7 days before re-taking the exam.

The NEW Google EDU Training Center: 4 NEW Certifications

If you purchase your exams after June 28, 2015, you will be dealing with Google’s new EDU Training Center. The way the exams are set up are a bit different from the previous certification. Before June 28th, Google’s Certification EDU exams had 3 options: Google Certified Educator (this is the path I am on currently), Google Certified Trainer, and Google Certified Teacher. Now, there are 2 levels of Google Certified Educator (Level 1 is your Fundamental level, whereas Level 2 is your Advanced level – similar to the Basic and Advanced levels in the previous Google Certified Educator exams). The Level 1 exam costs $10 USD, and Level 2 costs $25 USD. Screenshot 2015-07-13 14.36.16

The other certifications are: Google Certified Trainer and Google Certified Innovator. Screenshot 2015-07-13 14.36.36

When you visit the Google for Education Training Center, you can Sign In to your Google account, so that you can track your progress while you are studying for your certification. Once you are signed in, you will see the word “Progress” along your LH-sidebar, and beside each Unit you will see the number of minutes and lessons you are to complete, along with a progress bar underneath.

Screenshot 2015-07-13 14.40.02This is a new feature as well, and one that will definitely come in handy during the next round of exams.

When you pass all of your exams, your certification is good for 18 months. To keep your knowledge fresh, you are required to re-take your Google Certified Educator exams every 18 months.

What were your experiences taking the Google EDU exams? What strategies worked for you?

No turning back now.

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