What does Google Analytics 4 mean for the GAIQ exam?

16 November 2020

Last month, Google released Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Although officially in beta, it is now the default for any new property created in Google Analytics. It also represents a step change from the previous version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics, or UA). So what does that mean for anyone sitting the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) exam?

The short answer is, nothing - yet.

My GAIQ had expired so I resat the exam last week, and not one of my 70 questions touched on Google Analytics 4 (or indeed Web + App, the property type released in 2019 that subsequently became GA4).

Also notably absent from the questions were Google Tag Manager (GTM) and Google Data Studio. I am sure that when I sat the GAIQ exam for the first time, back in 2018, several of the questions did touch on Tag Manager - but no more. Perhaps Google has decided on complete separation between the GAIQ and its Google Tag Manager Fundamentals course.

In fact, the only other Google product mentioned in the QAIQ exam this time round was Google Ads: I had two questions about autotagging, one about remarketing lists, one about linking Google Ads to Google Analytics, and one about Advertising Features.

I would go as far to say that the GAIQ exam I sat last week was fundamentally the same as the one I sat in June 2019, and I prepared for it using the - also unchanged - Advanced Google Analytics video course. The exam format was unchanged too: 70 questions in 90 minutes, no going back to previous questions. Unlike the assessments in the Advances GA course, all of the questions in the GAIQ exam are single-select. (And yes, in case you were wondering, I did pass!)

Google Analytics 4 resources

So what if you do want to learn about Google Analytics 4? Well, Analytics Help offers a series of articles. There is also a Google-produced e-learning course called Discover the Next Generation of Google Analytics:

Google Analytics 4 course

This is hosted on Skillshop, the same platform that hosts the GAIQ exam, and I must say this course has not been widely publicised enough. It would be nice, for example, if it was at least flagged up over in Google Analytics Academy.

However there is no official qualification or certification for Google Analytics 4, and indeed no video training course (as provided for Universal Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Data Studio).

It seems strange to me that Google would make a beta product the 'default experience' without providing the usual comprehensive training materials. More than that, Google tacitly acknowledges that GA4 is still missing some important functionality:

The new Google Analytics is now the default experience for new properties and is where we’re investing in future improvements. We know there are capabilities many marketers need before fully replacing their existing Analytics setup, so we encourage you to create a new Google Analytics 4 property (previously called an App + Web property) alongside your existing properties. This will allow you to start gathering data and benefit from the latest innovations as they become available while keeping your current implementation intact.

I am not sure why Google has rushed to make GA4 the default. One thing is for certain though - the GAIQ exam will, at some point in the future, be updated to focus on GA4. So if you are familiar with Universal Analytics and are due to sit or reset the GAIQ, now is the time to do it. Your certification will be valid for a year,  giving you more than enough time to become familiar with GA4 before you have to sit the exam again.

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