My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

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My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

After a very positive impression with the Marketo University Day and the 2013 Marketo Summit (San Francisco, April 8-10), I had an extremely disappointing experience taking the Marketo Certification Exam on April 10th at 4.30pm at the San Francisco Union Square Hilton Hotel.
Marketo did a great job organizing the University and the Summit, and it was really great to have the opportunity to listen to Phil Fernandez (President & CEO, Marketo) and Sanjay Dholakia (CMO, Marketo) talking about the need to raise the standards of customer satisfaction, immediate interaction, transparency, etc, in a new Marketing era.
It was a huge surprise to discover that most of these recommendations were not properly followed in the organization of the Marketo Certification Exam.
I had a very positive impression after completing the test, so it was a surprise to see a screen saying that I failed the exam. But it's OK, sometimes this happens.
My disappointing experience with the Exam organization started right there:
* I heard other people talking about having the same impression I had: they were convinced that their exams were fine, but the system told they failed the test. Weird.
* I asked the exam supervisor what was my score. She answered me she cannot disclose this information. Weird!
* I asked the exam supervisor what was the score necessary to pass the exam. She answered me she cannot disclose this information. Weird!!
* Seeing at my astonishment, the exam supervisor felt the obligation to give some more explanations. And these were even more shocking: she told me her impression was that you need to have 80% of correct answers to pass the test, but that this number was sometimes variable depending of the score of the other candidates. Weird!!!
* I asked the exam supervisor when could I review my the exam. She answered me that there was no opportunity to do it. Weird!!!!
Until now I had a very positive image of Marketo, and in several occasions I have recommended it over other competitors like Eloqua. Unfortunately, my very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam has changed my impression.

UPDATE (04/17/13)

I just wanted to update this comment after having receive the feedback of several members of the Marketo team.

I am thankful for the quick and detailed response I got from Marketo about this comment, and also glad to know from them that the comment may help their team to think about how to improve the Exam process.

I think we all have high expectations about Marketo and would like it to be oustanding on every area. Thank you all for all the great comments and feedback.

Tags (1)
Level 10

Re: My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

I would like to pass certification and it would be interesting to hear the comments of other candidates. Are you feeling the same? Is it worth the shot?
Not applicable

Re: My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

I agree they should be more transparent about your score, and how the exam itself is scored so you know what counts as a pass. Our proctor explained to us that the system was kind of finicky, and so to hear that *in addition to* not being able to see how things were scored, which questions I missed, what the cutoff is....well, let's just say I was crossing my fingers the "finicky" system wouldn't screw up and penalize me.

I passed, but I don't know by how much, or what questions I might have missed, which is a shame (to me). Would love to review what I missed so I can learn and become a better user!

==Recommendations for Studying==

That said, for others looking to take the exam, I'll try to be as helpful as I can without revealing anything I'm not allowed to. It was 90 questions, multiple choice, and the 90 minutes were plenty of time.  I encourage people to give it a shot. To my surprise, I passed despite only working with Marketo for about 2.5 months and without taking any of the Foundation Courses or the University courses at Summit, so it is doable to pass it by studying! If I can do it, you can too! Here's how I did it, which I hope will be helpful to others.

1. I recommend the guide that's here as a study guide.

2. I studied the sections, fairly intensively, for about 2 days. I basically just read through the links provided in the guide, prioritizing in order of % breakdown of what would be covered (e.g. Programs and Campaigns are 35% of the exam,so I spent more time on that than I did on, say, Admin and Setup, which I knew was only 4%). Here's the breakdown, according to Marketo, on what's covered.

Admin and Setup 4%
Leads and Lists 17%
Asset Design 13%
Programs and Campaigns 35%
Lead Scoring/Life Cycle 9%
Reporting 12%

3. I took the free 25 question pre-test here from LeadMD: Questions aren't super high quality, but I'm not gonna lie, it did give me some sense of what areas I might need to study, and unlike the real test they tell you what you missed!

4. Remember that the exam itself is organized by topic, which gives you clues as to answers for each part. It's kinda common sense, but if the question is in the section called Reporting, the answer to it is probably not about importing lists or creating landing pages, it'll be likely something related to reporting.

5. It's true I haven't used Marketo for long, but I have been very active in reading material from the Community, which has helped enormously. I did all the free tutorials and have been trying to learn almost constantly from the beginning, so I don't mean to downplay how much effort went into educating myself.

Any questions people have about anything I've written here, feel free to shoot me an email at, and good luck if you decide to try!
Level 3

Re: My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

Thanks for the feedback Julio.  We are really sorry about your certification experience.  We want to help all our customers to become marketing rockstars.   
Our team was thrilled to formally introduce the Marketo Certified Expert program at Summit.  We had over 150 Marketo users who passed the exam and became certified this week.  Our goal is to create a strong and valid certification program that recognizes those who have developed a certain level of expertise.  The Certified Expert program leverages best-practices from other successful technology companies with similar certification programs.  A certification exam is not intended to be a diagnostic tool or a prep test.  Thus, very few vendors release specific information to candidates about their exam results or item-level responses. 
A critical component of a high quality certification program is exam security.  It is important that the contents of the exam not become publicly available. If the exam items were shared and subsequently published, there would be no value in achieving the certification, since anyone could memorize the questions and answers.  Like other companies who have certification programs, we at Marketo are protective of these exam questions.  The fewer the items in circulation, the more likely the exam and the certification designation will maintain value.
In order to be valuable in the marketplace it is important to Marketo to also keep its exams current.  Our plan is to revise and maintain our exams regularly, so that the exams will truly reflect the current version of the product.  Whenever an exam is revised, it goes through a thorough development and testing process to define the passing rate.  Similar to other companies, we do not share the passing score for our exams.  We also do not share individual exam scores.  Many certification programs follow the same policies. 
Marketo has worked diligently to develop a high-quality certification program that embraces many industry standards.  We hope that you will find the preparation resources at to be helpful as a study guide for you to improve your Marketo capabilities and prepare you for success.  Since the program is new, we will be continuously working on improving program details.  We hope that many more individuals will spend the time using Marketo, studying the  preparation materials, and becoming Marketo Certified Experts. 
If you have any additional questions about the certification program, you can contact us at

Best Regards,
Suzanne Ferry, Director of Education
Donna Senko, Certification Program Manager
Not applicable

Re: My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

Sorry you had a bad experience. I know that going into the test they tell you three things:

1) you can't talk about the test (so hopefully I am not breaking any rules here)
2) it is pass or fail, they won't tell you what you get right or wrong (similar to sfdc exam)
3) they don't release the pass rate.

I didn't know that LeadMD offered sample questions, I too was disappointed the guide only have 2 sample quesitons (3 sample quesitons if you had verision 1).

Level 10

Re: My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

I think the test was fine the way it was.  I credit the time I put in the community to fully immerse myself in learning the application and also reviewing the Road Map.  I clicked on every link on that guide for days.  I spent some nights and weekends to really learn how to use the application to support my team and other departments.  I'm glad there were only 2 questions because if I saw more, I might have had a false sense of what to expect from the test.  Personally I hate multiple choice questions because I over think the questions.  A more hands on type of test where you actually design or create a landing page, form, email or setting up a program would be my preferred type of test. 

I'm glad I didn't know about the LeadMD sample questions.  I hate cramming for any exams and I would never study in a day or 2 because I won't absorb anything.  I prefer to take the time to really learn the application and use it for my projects because it's more meaningful to me. So know every part of the application is my advice. Because I passed the test even though I was half asleep, tired and hungry. 🙂 
Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Re: My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

I was also surprised that the system didn't give me more feedback on the percentage of correct answers or areas I could study more on. I passed a beta version, so I can't say how it compares to this week's version, if at all. It would be nice if there were more clarity on the general pass rates or if you could at least review your incorrect answers after the exam but before you leave the room.

Marketo was pretty clear that if you fail, you have to take it again. I know that isn't helpful, but that's a pretty standard test setup.

I definitely agree with Michelle that the Study Guide was very helpful, pointing out areas that I knew I was weaker on. I am confident that anyone with about 1 year of extensive Marketo use will be able to pass the exam with minimal preparation.

There were areas that I was relatively unfamiliar with because I had just not used them enough, so I researched the basics and I think that helped me a lot and made me more valuable as a Marketo Admin.

For those considering the exam, you might also consider taking a look at my blog for helpful ideas and links that are related to the topics Marketo tests on:

Not applicable

Re: My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

The test questions seemed as fair as any multiple choice tests I've taken.  I agree with Josh and Michelle that if you have used Marketo for many months and/or been active in the Community, you should be reasonably well prepared.  Marketo's Certification Roadmap is a great tool for understanding if you have competency in the different subject matter areas.  

However, Marketo's protocol on providing feedback after the test is somewhat different than some of the standardized tests that I've taken.  For example, the test reports for the SAT or the knowledge exams conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration for pilot licenses contain your test score.  For the FAA exam, the report lists the subject matter codes for the knowledge areas in which you were found deficient, which is useful feedback for anyone that needs to retest.  Also, with the FAA tests the passing score is know in advance of the test.  Like Marketo, neither of these gives you back the specific questions you missed though.

Not applicable

Re: My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

I have been using Marketo for nearly 3 years, and while I lightly studied the materials provided, I assumed that my heavy experience using Marketo was what was being tested anyway. I passed the exam. I remember thinking that my day-to-day time using Marketo as an admin to set up programs, landing pages, forms, reports, smart lists, etc, is what I thought about when answering all of the questions. I suppose you could study the materials and pass, but it's much more important to have experience using the software and legitimately earning the Certified Expert badge.

I am also a certified Admin. That certification test was similar to this one, in that you never get to see which questions you get right or wrong, and you only get a PASS or FAIL notification at the end of the test. I'm not sure if the score for that exam is based on what other test-takers have scored, as Julio mentioned this in his comment. But, as Marketo states, it is an industry standard to not provide details about your performance on the exam, or it will lose relevance, as anyone would be able to memorize the questions and answers to pass, rather than actually having experience with the software.

I think Marketo did a great job with the exam, and I'm glad they finally were able to offer certification for their software!
Not applicable

Re: My very disappointing experience with the Marketo Certification Exam.

I can see both sides of the feedback provision question. I agree with Michelle and Elliott the test seemed fair and balanced. Like Sarah, consistently using Marketo and participating in the community over the past 2-3 years are the two things that really prepared me.