Three Lessons Learned From Passing Facebook’s Core Competencies Exam


A few weeks ago, I passed the 310-101 Facebook Core Competencies exam. This exam assesses your ability to manage most business functions within Facebook, including Ads Manager, Business Manager, and Pages.

A common misconception among many social media users is that the extent of Facebook lies in its public-facing side—things like its newsfeed, videos, and stories. Though these are certainly the components that make it special (and addictive), Facebook’s value for professional marketers lies in its ad products—and the robust ability to leverage the ways people use those public-facing components to meet specific business goals.

Recently, Facebook has come under considerable scrutiny for what user behavior and data they track—and who is given access to that information. In response, they are rolling out new security measures to ensure that user data is no longer put in the wrong hands. These measures include greater transparency regarding which brand pages are running ads and the specific content those ads contain, as well as a verification process for anyone who would like to run ads connected to political issues or “issues of national importance”.

Given Facebook’s increasing influence in the world’s political landscape, these new guidelines are understandable—even if they do feel a bit heavy handed for the average marketer. I also suspect that marketers who take the time to become familiar with all aspects of Facebook’s advertising landscape, including Facebook Blueprint, will have an advantage as the platform continues to evolve.

The 310-101 Core Competencies exam is a part of Facebook Blueprint’s certification component and is the first of two exams that one must take in order to be certified as a Planning Professional or Buying Professional. If you’re interested in taking this exam, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Study all of the Blueprint Courses—Even Ones That are Beginner Level

Visit this page for a complete rundown of each Blueprint course that pertains to the 310-101 exam. If you have many months or years of experience managing Facebook pages for a business or nonprofit, there may be certain courses that will initially feel too basic for your skill sets, such as Introduction to Facebook Pages and Brand Best Practices. However, Facebook is constantly evolving, and these courses are updated regularly.

I was surprised at how much I learned while reviewing them. Many tools, such as Instant Replies and Facebook groups connected specific to pages, were outside of my scope as a social media manager when I first started—or not even launched on Facebook yet.

There are also specific product names, role titles, and rules that will be mentioned in the exam, many of which may seem similar. This could include Instant Replies and Saved Replies, or, at the ad level, Advertiser and Analyst. These names may be different from the internal terms your team or company use, or they may blend together if one person has multiple responsibilities. Carefully reviewing each course—even ones at a beginner level—will help you maintain consistency with all Facebook terminology.

Put Concepts Into Practice While You’re Studying for the Exam

Don’t rest in theory. The exam isn’t just about term definitions or tool functions. It also presents business scenarios where you’ll need to choose the best option for a particular goal. And sometimes, the multiple choice options will seem deceptively similar to one another.

It helps to get as much experience as possible with multiple campaign objectives, audiences, and ad types like lead generation and app installs. Also, pay close attention to the two user behaviors experiencing the most rapid growth on Facebook: video views and mobile usage. I was surprised at how often these two components came up in the exam, especially video.

Getting your hands dirty with different campaigns can be hard if you’re working with a limited budget, but small experiments as methods of exploration can benefit you greatly for this exam. You can also try Facebook’s Creative Hub, which allows you to create mockups of various ad types specifically for mobile and discover inspiration from other creative professionals.

Have a Relatively Short Space Between Studying and Taking the Exam

Last year, before committing to taking the exam, I begin studying the Facebook Blueprint courses for my own professional development. When I set the intention to pass the exam this year, I was surprised to see that some courses I took were outdated.

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Facebook is evolving—fast. They are releasing a steady stream of updates, particularly to their ads platform. As a result, Blueprint course materials and the Core Competencies exam itself will likely change frequently. Though Facebook smartly recommends at least six months of solid work experience with their ads platform before attempting to take the exam, I would recommend as short a window as possible between studying and taking the exam. Two to three months of aggressive studying, coupled with experience in as many advertising scenarios as possible, could be all you need depending on your schedule.

But don't take this advice as a pass to cram at the last minute. The exam is challenging. You have 75 minutes to take it, and I found myself using almost all of the allotted time.

Don’t assume that social media marketing and any exams or certifications associated with it are easy simply because “everyone is on social.” Facebook Advertising is complex and specifically designed for marketers in virtually all industries to achieve qualitative results. Learning all of the different components and capabilities of this robust tool will not only help you pass the Core Competencies exam but increase the level of success for your brand.


Have you passed the Core Competencies exam already? Do you have have other valuable tips to share? Leave a comment below!