How to become an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)
Teresa wrote and asked:
I wonder if you can tell me what it takes to complete the ACE certification? I’ve checked the Adobe web site, but it really didn’t give me any insight.
First of all, lets talk about what becoming an ACE does for you:
1. It demonstrates a certain level of InDesign knowledge, which looks good on a resume or to your current employer
2. It is the first step to becoming an Adobe Certified Instructor (ACI), which is required to teach in an Adobe Training Partner classroom
3. It allows you to use the ACE logo on your Web site and business card
4. Preparing for the test will make you a better InDesign user…you will no doubt learn a couple of things you didn’t know before.
What is the test like?
You must visit a Pearson Vue testing center in person to take the test. You cannot take the test on-line. The test (for CS5) is 72 multiple-choice questions, and you must answer 78% (57 questions) correctly to pass. The hard part? You can’t take any notes in with you, and you won’t have InDesign in front of you. So it may be difficult to picture how something works that you do everyday without thinking, but it isn’t right in front of you.
In my experience, the test is hard, but fair. You need to know the breadth of InDesign well to pass. Many of us tend to work on the same types of files and projects day in and day out, and don’t necessarily use all the broad features of InDesign every day. So this test will stretch you and broaden your horizons.
So, you do you become an InDesign ACE?
1. Read about the ACE program on Adobe’s Web site here
2. Download the InDesign CS5 Exam Bulletin
3. In the Exam Bulletin, pay close attention to the “Exam Structure” and “Test Content: Topic Areas and Objectives” sections. The Exam Structure section enumerates how many questions will be asked in a certain category. The Test Content: Topic Areas and Objectives section lists in extreme detail what the questions will ask about. For example, it might say “Given a scenario, set up a document or frame-based baseline grid.” Now you know that there will be a question about baseline grids, so you better understand all about them in order to get that question right. If there is no mention of a particular feature anywhere in this detailed list, you can be assured there won’t be any questions on that topic.
4. Consider purchasing The InDesignSecrets Guide to the InDesign CS5 ACE Exam by Mike Rankin. This is a comprehensive study guide with sample test questions to help you prepare for the exam. Highly recommended!
5. When you feel that you are ready, sign up for a test session on the Pearson Vue Web site. Here, you will locate your closest Pearson Vue testing center, and schedule a time to take the exam.
6. At your scheduled date and time, go to the Pearson Vue test center that you registered for (bring a photo ID), and take the test. Good luck!
Is there anything else to know?
In my experience, the tests are heavy on questions about the newest features of InDesign. So studying all the new or revised features in the latest version of InDesign is a good study strategy.
If you fail the test, you can retake it as many times as you’d like. If I recall correctly, I think the fee to retake an exam is half the price of the initial test. Keep in mind that there is a pool of hundreds of questions that your 72 specific questions are drawn from, so each time you take the test it will be different.
Once you’ve passed, then you can take “recertification” exams on new versions of InDesign. These recertification exams are also administered by Pearson/Vue, but they are on-line tests that you can take in your own home or office. In my experience, these tests are much easier.