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Taking the Photoshop Adobe Certified Expert Exam


I was recently asked about becoming an Adobe Certified Expert and what I think is the best study tools, so I thought I’d make it the subject of my post this week.

I’m not going to lie to you, taking the exam was a nerve-racking experience. I’ve taken it a few times now and I can’t say it gets any easier, but I like doing it, and I certainly like getting the results (so far).

The exams are taken in a Pearson exam centre and my local one is situated in a converted Victorian house, you should remove that image from your head, it isn’t that nice. The first time I arrived I thought it had closed, in fact the doors were locked and I ‘wasn’t expected’. There’s since been a slap of paint and a new desk or two. So, don’t necessarily expect it to be as you imagine, test centres vary dramatically.

Once I arrived I had to fill in a sheet with all my details and show some ID to prove I am who I say I am and hand in mobile phone, pad etcetera. Then its off into the test.

Sitting at a cubicle with a pen and wipe clean board I was signed into a PC where the Adobe logo and some instructions greeted me, this was oddly reassuring. The


instructions told me my time limit and that the questions would be multiple choice.

I could if I wish return to questions at any point but the test is very linear and are taken randomly from a pool of questions, unless you’re doing the Beta test then, I believe, you get the lot.

The way the questions are worded aren’t set to fool you, but the choice of answers may make you doubt yourself. As an example of the type of question that comes up;

2014-04-11_11-53-39You are using a Hue / Saturation Adjustment Layer and click and drag the Saturation slider. What is the result of pressing the Alt or Option Key?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never done that, but I do know the answer. Like with all sliders, pressing the Alt key makes the slider move in smaller increments (shift for bigger). However, faced with an answer like ‘Switches the active slider to the Hue slider’ can be off putting. All of a sudden your brain’s telling you “It has Alt in the question, its and alternative right?”

So, advice number one. If you know Photoshop well, don’t second-guess yourself.

How To Study

There are some study aids available but I can’t comment on them as I’ve not used them.  I was advised to use the Photoshop Help files to study as all the questions are based around the information contained there. Of course this doesn’t prepare you for the type of questioning.

Use Photoshop

photoshop_helpI know this sounds obvious but let me explain. Quite often we use Photoshop to achieve an end, we may have a certain workflow that we always use, and that’s great, but to take the ACE you need to explore fully and find areas you’ve perhaps not visited before.

As you explore and find something you’re not familiar with open the Help file and take a quick read, experiment and revisit, you’ll be surprised how quickly you pick up new skills and knowledge.

Its All About The Odds

Break Photoshop down and assess yourself, how well do you know Printing, Smart Objects, Adjustment Layers etc then target the areas you’re not familiar with, but…

Don’t get hung up on it! Remember this is a pool of questions, if you know 90% of Photoshop really well you’ll be fine, statistically a very limited amount of questions should arise in the 10% you don’t know.

Shameless Self Promo

Twitter_VeryCloseThere are a lot of websites offering tutorials but I firmly believe that if you’re looking to take the ACE TipSquirrel is one of the best. One of the remits is that tutorials should explain why you do something, not just how. This is the kind of information you’ll need.

Because of the varied specialties of the writers here I’d recommend randomly reading / watching tutorials and picking up on the little details of what they are doing.

For more structured, start to finish course I highly recommend the 1 to 1 series’ on Lynda.com by Deke McClelland. Following the courses will help but again make notes on the finer details. There’s also a wealth of information at Deke’s website, Deke.com.

If you’re a member of Kelby One (Formally NAPP) you’ll find some great tutorials there too, again, incorporating some finer details.

Don’t Panic

Red button don't panic buttonIf you’re thinking of taking the exam you’re already familiar with Photoshop, so don’t panic, you probably know more than you think. The first time I took the exam it was to see what it was like, I really thought I would fail but at least I’d know what I was up against. It was tough, and I wasn’t sure if I had passed or not, but I did and the feeling was great!

Good Luck,

Adobe Certified Expert (Ahhh that feels good)


Find more on becoming an Adobe Certified Expert at the official Adobe website.




About Eric Renno (434 Articles)
Eric’s background in video editing with Adobe Premier led to his interest, and then obsession, with Photoshop. Starting TipSquirrel.com as a hobby he is proud to have gathered together and be a part of The Photoshop Nuts. Known as only “TipSquirrel” for two years, Eric ‘went public’ when he was a finalist in The Next Adobe Photoshop Evangelist competition. He’s also been a finalist in Deke’s Techniques Photoshop Challenge. While still taking on some freelance work, Eric has recently become a Lecturer at Peterborough’s Media and Journalism Centre where he enjoys sharing his knowledge as well as learning new skills. This realisation that he loves to teach has made Eric look at altering his career path.

2 Comments on Taking the Photoshop Adobe Certified Expert Exam

  1. Graham Taylor // 11/04/2014 at 1:41 pm //

    Thanks for that insight about the ACE exam. My intentions are to sit it in May. As for the doubt and the second guessing, I am that person. However I see I am not alone.
    Using Examaids more for the question structure and practise than as a learning tool.
    Thanks again.

  2. I have learned a lot of website but still I haven’t find any such online material that I have found on this blog. This is really a very helpful and informative share that helped me a lot.

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