Judy Durkin

Adobe Expert Certification - Why are we all so afraid of the test?

We go after Masters degrees. We add clock hours. But as Adobe Education Leaders, one subject that is never discussed is the dreaded Adobe Expert certification? I took the InDesign Expert exam and failed. But I know that it is one goal that I MUST achieve. So, let's talk about it. 

How important is Expert certification to your job? Does it carry any weight in your school district? among your peers?

Should the Expert exams be gamified?

Sorry to bring up such a tender subject...

  • Adobe Premiere Pro

    Edit media in its native format and create productions for film, TV, and web.

  • Photoshop

    Editing and compositing for photos, web and mobile app designs, 3D artwork, videos, and more.

  • InDesign

    Craft elegant layouts at your desk or on the go.

5 / 5 • 4 Ratings

Comments (15)

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Dan Ross

Posted on 2/7/18 2:34:53 AM Permalink

I keep going back and forth for personal reasons. Finding a place where I live can be tough and it costs a good chunk of cash. Also, don't you have to keep renewing it?​

Lukas Engqvist

Posted on 8/15/16 5:41:10 AM Permalink

This year I have been involved in the ACA and ACE test making process. It is a long process and I have learned a lot. I even wrote a few questions (There are many subject matter experts writing a few questions each that are then reviewed by more experts in several stages) that then had to go through the rigorous cycle of approval, and were modified, to conform to the guidelines. We had some good discussions in the work group about how to test the skills needed to use the program and not ending up in trivia. (obsolete obscure questions that have no real user value and can only be acquired by rote learning). I do think that the exams are much better now than they have been before. (having taken several, and maintained certification means doing several retakes). It does take time to tune your knowledge, and put aside creative think out of the box thinking, to in the box thinking.

After the exam is done, the pass rates are set and this too is a detailed process.

It is hard to ask questions that text knowledge about the program partly from the fact that the UI is so explicit it is hard to find good enough distractors (alternative answers that would give the wrong result), also being specific enough that there wouldn't be a case of answers being true in some possible scenarios but false in others.

Remember a test needs to work irrespective of the teacher, school setting and test taker. It has to hold legally as being fair and objective. It is testing a group of creatives who are usually not wanting to be bound by rules.

I like in some ways the ACA that also tests softer skills, and they have the scenarios. In the ACEs that I was involved in we were also sure to take away the too basic questions to give room for enough questions that the Experts should be able to be distinguished from users.

Also a test is a test and does not show you the whole truth. It's like a passport photo, it looks like you so that you can be identified, but it is not who you are or showing your full character. I trust that there will be more than a test/certificate as students compete for careers. :)

Bernice Young

Posted on 8/14/16 12:43:23 PM Permalink

I have six students that passed Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, CS6 and CC in one semester. The majority of them are freshman. I have to begin to work on getting them AEC in Adobe Premiere Pro. However, I have not been able to located any curriculum on it. Also, do I need to obtain my AEC prior to being concerned about them getting certified. I think if I get certified first I will be given information to help my students. Is this correct?

Judy Durkin

Posted on 8/15/16 3:52:51 AM Permalink

You do not have to be certified to get them certified. All of the information for the AEC is available to everyone.

Lynne Kesselman

Posted on 8/1/13 4:02:37 PM Permalink

Since I began teaching Career and Tech Ed in 2001, I have looked for some way to get my students industry-recognized certifications. My students do the work, understand the concepts, and become proficient with the software, so I think they they should be able to get certified.

For me there's no financial benefit at the workplace, but I hope to get ACA certified in Dreamweaver and Flash this upcoming school year, and am doing so basically in order to see what it takes to get my students certified. It seems that we will probably end up getting certified together, which should be interesting. If it benefits my students, I'll all in!

What seemed to hold us back was not knowing exactly where to go, what to do, and how to do it. We recently found an affordable, IT friendly online resource that will hopefully work with us to provide some additional training and the certification testing. If there are any other suggestions for us as we start out, I'd really appreciate hearing about them.

Here's a great article that just came out in Ed Tech Magazine regarding Adobe certification for students, with some great quotes from Melissa Jones, too.

Melissa Jones

Posted on 3/2/13 1:34:33 AM Permalink

I'd really like to develop some content to help folks "level up" from ACA to ACE. If any of you AELs out there think you can help with that, let me know!

Lukas Engqvist

Posted on 8/2/12 8:56:55 PM Permalink

@Bill Guy sound sad that you went that route to your exam and that your experience was to "beat the system". I have not found questions to be wrong, or that the multiple choice means that it does not allow for multiple solutions for any given project. In fact some questions are specifically asking which of the following would not produce the required results. The test is as good as any driving licence theory exam. I didn't do any practice exams. For me the biggest help was helping people in online forums and by phone, it forced me to learn photoshop verbally. To visualise where a customer would be and to understand the problem they were facing. It does requre a good understanding of language and being able to visualise and verbalise photoshop.

I have not done the ACA so cannot comment on them yet.

Also I do believe, just as with a driving licence which is a theoretical exam and a practical test, our skills should be tested both in theory and in practice. I only retook one exam and that was because I choose the wrong exam on a recertification… which meant i did the Illustrator CS5 recert twice :P but that's my own fault for not being awake.

Bill Guy

Posted on 8/3/12 1:50:20 PM Permalink

Well I think you have made my point and the driving license test is a great example. To pass the written test you need to study the book as to how to answer the questions as they are written. The same is true with any of the Certification exams. It has very little to do with the creative aspect of the program. And while you study the book (or pre tests) it does not mean you will be able to really know how to drive till you get behind the wheel. And as to the test itself, when I took the CS5.5 ACE there were a couple of answers that referred back to a previous version keyboard shortcuts and not the current. Also a number of the questions pertain to functions that may only come up once in blue moon. This is why I often refer to the ACE exam as Photoshop Trivial Pursuit.

My problem with any quantifying test is that it only will show the depth of knowledge and not the application of the creative force. It is like the difference in music where you can play the notes but it is Jazz that brings it alive.

Kristie MacLaughlin

Posted on 8/3/12 10:59:46 PM Permalink

I completely understand what you're saying, Bill, but you're not going to hire a carpenter who holds his hammer by the claw, are you? ;)

I was lucky enough to be able to take my certification tests for free through Adobe's User Group Manager program. That took a considerable amount of weight off the failure possibility (although, I didn't fail.) I do agree, there were a few questions that did refer to some pretty obscure parts of the programs. Again, I was lucky because I was in the industry for 16 years before I started teaching, so I knew the answers. But I believe that a true "expert" should know those aspects of the programs. If you have that depth of knowledge of the programs, then I think it's safe to say that the creative talent helped you get the technical knowledge.

Judy Durkin

Posted on 8/15/16 3:55:11 AM Permalink

My problem is that I am the worst test-taker in the world - especially when it comes to multiple choice. I over-think the questions and the choices and I am always a trembling, nervous wreck when I start he exams. No amount of studying for any test throughout my life has helped. I excel at essay questions and instances where I can do a hands-on demonstration, but put it on paper and I freak out.

Bill Guy

Posted on 8/2/12 7:38:29 PM Permalink

I had been putting off taking the ACE for Photoshop for many years. My problem with the test was that it is multiple choice and in Photoshop there is always more than one way to do something. Because of some job opportunities this year I decided to bite the bullet and take it and did pass. Here is what I found;

Forget books and pod casts. The best way to pass is to purchase pre tests. Try to get as many as you can because the questions on these pre tests are the same as in the ACE exam. Learning the questions and what answers that are expected will help you pass.

It does not help to second guess and sometimes even if you know what they are asking is wrong, just pick their answer. After all you want to pass, not be right.

Do employers look at ACE? YES some will because they don't understand the programs and this shows them that you do. In the pile of resumes that will land on their desk your ACE will stand out from the recent Art School grads and even the MFAs. If nothing else it will get you the interview. After that you can dazzle them with your skill.

Lukas Engqvist

Posted on 8/1/12 5:45:16 PM Permalink

I think the ACE exams are great for myself to know I have not left out major blocks. Those areas I realise in the exam I don't feel totaly confident I make sure I get more comfortable before the new term begins. It's also a good way to gain respect from students. Looking to also take the ACA's just so I know what they are before I can decide if we will promote them to our students.

Ravian Budde

Posted on 8/1/12 12:03:25 AM Permalink

I've been pushing to get ANY Adobe certification instigated in our college, they don't seem to care about it at all!

Not sure if they don't see any value in have Adobe Certified Educators or if it is a cost thing (not that it costs much at all!).

As Linda mentioned, I would love to have the Certification for my own personal achievement!


Hussin Khan

Posted on 8/1/12 12:02:17 AM Permalink

I got my last job coz I was adobe pays!

Linda Dickeson

Posted on 7/31/12 9:41:12 PM Permalink

The ACE exams would carry no weight in my school district, but I'd love to pass for personal reasons! I'm hoping for an InDesign ACA exam to start with, then on to the ACE!