will milne
Photographer and Photography Educator

The New ACA Exam for Photoshop CC 2015 is too Difficult

The recently released ACA Exam for Photoshop CC 2015 is too difficult and not focused on real world users. I am an Adobe Certified Instructor and Photoshop ACE certified and have been working with high school students to prep for Adobe certification for the past eight years. In my experience, the most recent version of this exam needs to have some adjustments made in order to be better for both Adobe and test takers.

The exam is supposed to be designed for people with around 2 years Photoshop experience, but the newest version of the test is much more advanced. Having worked on test and practice test questions for ACE and ACA tests before, I would say that the questions in the new ACA exam are actually at the ACE. I am currently having my students take the 2013 test instead of the 2015 one because of the issues I've outlined here, but I wanted to check and see if anyone else has noticed the new test being abnormally difficult or if there was some reasoning behind the changes.

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Erol Sommer

Posted on 12/6/18 1:10:24 PM Permalink


Ahmed Belal

Posted on 12/2/18 5:38:20 AM Permalink

​Thanks for sharing

nova rollo

Posted on 7/28/18 12:54:46 AM Permalink

Is anyone having students at Practicum Level (CTE) test for ACE? Is this too advanced? My feeling is that it is and ACA would be better suited for a student with a minimum of two years in the cluster. (PS & Ill)​

arab benabdelouahab

Posted on 7/20/18 5:39:35 PM Permalink

I think so, some questions about understanding are very long and they take a long time to be read and answered.

I practiced at home with Gmetrix tests and I got almost all the questions right, but with when I took the ACA test the questions were confusing and not clear.

some questions don't come right away I had to skip them then come back to see them.

I m taking it again next week and let you know

Ronice Gilbertson

Posted on 4/4/18 5:53:41 PM Permalink

My 7th and 8th Grade students have been extremely successful using the Brain Buffet tutorials. ​Additionally, we work on testing skills like reset the questions, right-click, using the drop down menus, and what are different ways to accomplish the same action. My understanding from Certiport that the test will be using the actual program from the C drive. Hopefully, it solves some of the work around issues.

The 2017-2018 school year, we have been testing only using CC. Currently, for this school year, we have 59 Photoshop certifications, 15 Illustrator, 12 InDesign, 3 Animate, 2 Dreamweaver, and 4 Premiere Pro. They are excited for After Effects in the fall.

Darron Moore

Posted on 4/4/18 4:21:31 PM Permalink

​I completely agree. I had my top 2 students take the ACA CC15 test and they both scored 0 . It is simply impossible that they did not get a single question correct.

Patricia Mortimer

Posted on 1/18/18 5:43:37 PM Permalink

I teach Animate, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. My students and I are preparing for the Animate CC 2015 and Dreamweaver CC 2015 exams for the different courses that I teach. My classes have been certifying in Adobe for years (CS3, CS5, CS6 ) with excellent results. We now have CC 2017 so are preparing for CC 2015 exams. - I took the ACA Animate CC 2015 and the ACA Dreamweaver CC 2015 tests and failed both.

1. Too many "functions not available".

2. One question in Animate asks to turn off the visibility of eyes (of the image) using the Timeline​ and the Show/Hide button does not work. Several procedures did not work....

3. The Dreamweaver test was ridiculous - not user friendly at all.

4. AND - GMETRIX is really not very helpful for preparation....

The ACA 2015 tests are way more advanced than previous version tests - more like ACE exams....

I thought I would share this - maybe someone at Adobe can take the tests and help get the bugs out...

Ronice Gilbertson

Posted on 12/12/17 3:59:09 PM Permalink


I am sorry it is so frustrating for your students. Did you know that the exam counts the clicks. My students are trained to reset the question a lot. They can "dig" for the solution, once it is found, they reset, complete it, and move on. Additionally, we use right click and the drop down menus. Since August, we have certified 69 students in Photoshop CC 2015. My students are in middle school. We use ACA Test Prep for our curriculum.

Cathy Keys

Posted on 12/12/17 4:38:17 PM Permalink

But it says at the beginning of the Certiport test that it does NOT count clicks.​

Ronice Gilbertson

Posted on 12/12/17 5:10:19 PM Permalink

It is our testing protocol. I do know that if your student "touches" the exam question, they have to complete it again (redo it). I had a student working on his Animate Certification, like all other standardized tests, when he had 15 minutes to spare, he started at number one and reviewed all the questions. He failed the exam. I called Certiport, when you "touch" an exam question, you have to complete it again. ​

Cathy Keys

Posted on 12/12/17 5:29:03 PM Permalink

I understand that part. What I am saying, I guess asking now, is: If a student tries to complete a question several different ways, but gets the "function not available" message, then finally finds the correct way to do it, do all of the clicks before that count against the student? Or should they refresh and do it the correct way only?​

Ronice Gilbertson

Posted on 12/12/17 5:52:21 PM Permalink

Cathy, I have my students refresh (reset the questions) then answer is within 3 to 6 clicks. It has been working for us...​

sarabjeet singh

Posted on 10/18/17 6:56:27 AM Permalink

Hi Everyone,

I want to prepare for Photoshop CC 2015 ACA exam for the first time can someone guide me about the exam and can share some study material related to this exam if possible.


Ronice Gilbertson

Posted on 10/24/17 3:40:00 PM Permalink

Sarabjeet Singh,

We currently use ​ACATestPrep for our study materials. ​Our school currently has 140 certifications in all the applications (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Animate, Dreamweaver, and Premiere). Our students our testing for certifications for the Creative Cloud (the latest exams). We currently have over 84 Photoshop certifications and we will be testing an additional 45 students tomorrow. ACA Test Prep is the only curriculum we use. If students need additional help, they are referred to Adobe Education exchange and the tutorials that are provided form the desktop CC icon.

Did I mention, that I teach middle school students, ages 11-13? The curriculum is amazing; the software allows for students to become creatives; the certifications are life changing; and my middle students rock! ;)

Bill Carberry

Posted on 6/20/17 3:06:37 PM Permalink

​I just achieved perfect scores in 3 of 5 categories for the Photoshop CC 2015 ACA exam last weekend. I can confirm that the bug for the missing 50% slider setting still exists, but the bug for the bagel selection question has been fixed.

Regarding reshaping corner points, that can be done with the Convert Anchor Point tool. Photoshop does not have Live Corner Widgets to reshape anchor points like Illustrator. I did not get that question so I can't confirm that works. You can group layers by selecting them and then clicking the group button at bottom of layers panel.

I would like to participate in the prerelease programs for the Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator CC 2017 (or later) ACA exams. I tried contacting Adam Keys and Brandon Jackson at Certiport, but the email address he posted here bounced back as invalid!

Can someone please put me in direct contact with the people who are in charge of the ACA exams at Adobe and Certiport?

Bill Carberry
Adobe Certified Associate and
Adobe Certified Instructor for
Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and Acrobat
in good standing since 1999

Angela Wong

Posted on 6/6/17 6:39:22 PM Permalink

​Hey Everyone!

I know this is about Photoshop CC 2015, but since many of the convos below seem to be about the Certiport ACA exam experience as a whole, I needed to just ask - what is going on with these exams?? I'll clarify - I'm in my 3rd year of prepping students for the ACA in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. I currently have a very small program as it's new and we have already had a long standing program of certifying students in Dreamweaver. I'm the new guy on the block in my school. I'm CS6 certified in Photoshop and CC 2015 certified in both Illustrator and InDesign. I scored a 963/1000 when I did the Illustrator CC 2015 exam back in September. It seems they have updated the exam however and I just had 3 students take it both on Console 8, then I switched to the MAC launcher (that's what I took it on and had no troubles). This past month, the students did not do so well, they passed, but with low passing scores. While sitting with them and observing, I noted a bunch of weird issues:

  • live corners, use live corners to convert the points of a star to a curve....there are no widgets????
  • One question to convert the anchor point to a smooth point, there is no way to do this in the actual exam with the knowledge I have
  • On another question they want you to move layers from a sublayer to their own layer. Simple enough, right? You cannot drag these layers within the layers panel. I don't know of a more roundabout way to move an item from a sublayer to their own layer.

Overall, as an instructor, my biggest frustration and anger with these Certiport exams is that they only allow ONE WAY for something to be done and it's always the most roundabout way possible - definitely not the way that is most efficient and typically most used by anyone working in the program. So instead of focusing on the material with my students (I really like Rob Schwartz's ACA books!) I have to play detective and guess which way the exam could possibly want them to answer the question. We have our students do practice tests using GMetrix as it's the most cost effective method for practice testing for my school, but the real exam is always much more difficult. Which is ok, but I am really frustrated with the only way to answer a question being the most roundabout least popular method.

Sorry, needed to vent. If anyone else has the same issues, happy to hear from you. If anyone else has ideas/solutions, even happier to hear from you! :)

Cathy Keys

Posted on 12/12/17 12:49:11 AM Permalink

I don't understand there being only one way to do something. it frustrates my students which means they stop concentrating on the next question. I had students fail, that I never dreamed would do that and all they talked about afterwards was having to do something a certain way.

ser glusgow

Posted on 3/31/17 11:56:51 AM Permalink

​Hi guys. Im just after my ACA Photoshop CC 2015 exam. Yeah, i didnt pass. A bit mad and angry about. The time is just pushing and pushing without chance for concentrating. Found some comments in here dated 30/03/17. Didnt see it yesterday. Its truth found a bit difficult and one or question i think (still hyper from the exam) i didnt find the way to answer. Like "create new preset for the image" and File-New was not able at all. Still dont know the right way for that. Rob will you help me with that please. Oh need time to calm down from the stress i had.

PS. Oh yes, Its very different then Gmetrix tests on course i had.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 3/8/17 12:45:39 AM Permalink

​Hey all- I've worked on a lot of the exams- and have been using the ACA in my classroom since it started. I've been really lucky to see all the steps and stages involved and can say that it is a pretty rigorous process... but there are some areas for improvement for sure! Adobe and Certiport have recently really begun to focus on the ACA program and there is a lot in store! Some is definitely lost in translation between the item writers and the final test because the simulation coders don't always know the app or aren't always able to program all the options in.

As Adam says below, however... there are great things on the horizon and I think this summer you'll see some great new things happening with the ACA!

**UPDATE 3/28/17** - Hey everyone! I just wanted to pop in and let you know that Adobe and Certiport are adressing many of the concerns here- and you should see some BIG changes in the program in the next year (affecting PS, IL, and ID first).

I'll pop in and update again when there's more to share- but it's coming soon! :)

Charter High School of the Arts

Posted on 3/30/17 7:27:47 PM Permalink

Hey Rob, you seem to be a good guy and have some influence.

I've been training students and administering this test for seven years. I've set up and proctored on Windows using Dual Boot Macs, used regular Online version through Safari or Google Chrome, and now using Chromium, which is by far those worst experience. I've been an ACA in CS5, CC 2013, and now CC2015, and am


Current Critical Issues!!
1. On the question about lowering the layer opacity of the text, it used to say "about 50%" it still says about, but the 50% is missing and the question doesn't make sense.
2. On one of the Bagel questions about masking, it doesn't let you load the "saved selection" that it mentions in the question "Function Unavailable"!

3. On the question about straightening the background, I was watching two students take the test, both did it correctly, but it straightened on one, yet not on the other.Those are only the ones I noticed. I don't know how many other absolutely problematic questions and functions there are. But all indicators point toward a very faulty test and testing software, and btw questions load incredibly slowly.
This is could almost be considered an invalid test!
I never had this level of problems a couple of years ago when they could take it through Safari or regular Chrome. Certiport's version of Chromium has been super glitchy and you haven't bothered to update it since we first downloaded on August 7, 2015. It's still version 37.0.2062.124. I downloaded and installed the latest version and I noticed it's exactly the same version.
We are paying Certiport to take this test, WHY are they making so difficult to work with them!
This is ridiculous, they need to read the forums full of educators that feel the same way!
And yesterday I wrote to Certiport and there has been no response!!!!!!!!!
Why are they acting this way!
Vince Campi

btw, I have two version of Photoshop on all of the computers in my classroom because the test is still in CC 2013 and many of the dialog boxes are still light gray, and I don't want that to be a stumbling block while they're taking the test.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 3/30/17 8:02:46 PM Permalink

Hey Charter- Couple things...

FIRST- let me be really clear that I'm not an employee of Adobe or Certiport... I'm a teacher like everyone here. I'm currently on a leave of absence to work on my tutorials and such for other classroom teachers, but I'm still in the classroom pretty much every week to see what's happening across districts and in business. So nothing I'm saying is "official" Adobe or Certiport stuff, and I could be wrong about anything here! I work with both companies around the ACA Pretty close, but I'm still an outsider/external consultant. Just want to be sure everyone knows I'm not speaking for Certiport or Adobe here. :)

dual booting to test. You using Console 8 or the old original launcher? Def suggest Console 8, then mac launcher, then lastly resort to the old Windows launcher. But def Console 8 is preferred. If you're dual booting, be sure to dual boot and use console 8 or you're stepping backwards- away from the fixes!

  • Straightening BG- I've seen inconsistency on this as well- try clicking slightly above the waterline when it's not working. And drag from left to right.
  • Missing 50% - they know about this and it's being fixed.
  • Bagel- how are you trying to load the saved selection? Is the BG gingham or just grey for the question you're talking about?

Chromium is not a Certiport product- it's the native, open source version of Chrome. Certiport has nothing to do with it, and it doesn't affect the test content- they're completely separate.

They are aware of the feedback and the issues, and are working hard to fix it... the problem is finding someone qualified to do it! They've invested a ton in making the test better, but the companies they're working with have proven to be inconsistent. They have just found a new partner for developing and test delivery that should make it more consistent- usable on both the Mac and PC equally, and much easier to update these kind of issues. Right now, just adding back the missing "50%" that's making the question senseless can't be done by Certiport- they have to send it to the testing team and wait for them to fix it... and haven't been as responsive as Certiport expects- thus the search for a new platform that Certiport can edit in-house.

In the same way that Parents say "teachers are getting paid to teach- why are they focusing on these stupid standardized tests and testing for 1/3 of the year?"- it's kind of beyond our control, but we are the face and we are the contact point for teachers because of something up the chain. Certiport's working diligently to fix these issues I can assure you. Adam (just below) really cares about the classroom and the students, and wants them to have a great experience. Jeff and Remy at Adobe are passionate about kids and want the exam to be legit, consistent, valid, and a great resource and assessment for everyone. There is a TON happening behind the scenes from Adobe and Certiport's camp and you'll see the results REALLY soon. Consistency in message, test delivery, more clear objectives, everything about the ACA is being examined and there is a huge effort to make everything more clear, direct, and nimble.

With all that being said- it's a real challenge! Working on the exams is HUGE. It would be like you trying to write the final exam for another teacher's classroom- you don't know their focus or their approach. And you have to write it to perfectly evaluate a whole year of learning in 40 minutes so it can be taken in a single class period... by people speaking multiple languages living in countries with different rules about copyright and such... And employers need to see that students they hire with the ACA are actually job-ready! That's the hardest part! The ACA is NOT an educational test or exam- it's an INDUSTRY test. This has much different standards and it depends a lot on what the industry needs and what is reported back to Certiport and Adobe by their industry contacts. It's really involved and challenging. It is designed to not measure how much is taught in school classrooms, but what is actually needed by new hires by the ever-changing industry. Heck- spend a summer in a design house and you'll see how chaotic and quickly changing the design world is right now! It's really crazy!

Stacey Shanklin

Posted on 3/31/17 1:54:33 PM Permalink

Hey Rob -

I've seen your work - Brain Buffet and look forward to implementing it next year! Critical question - will these changes and updates be ready by mid-August at the start of the year? As you know all too well, it helps to have direction and a really solid idea in order to start laying a foundation and habits from the very beginning of the year. If I can start right away highlighting specific concepts and focus, training my kids then, that will be super helpful and much less stressful!

Also - this is a question for anyone - but you might know as well. I have JUST heard that in order to teach/test the students Adobe products and give the industry certification test, we have to be certified ourselves? Can you or anyone else clarify so that I can direct my teachers accordingly? Is that just for Adobe or does that include MOS too?

Thanks! Happy Friday!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 4/1/17 4:07:18 AM Permalink

Hey Stacey-

Thanks for the compliments! The changes on the exam timeline are kind of up to Certiport and it depends also a lot on the developer getting things in place in time. So a hiccup is always possible (and I usually say "expected"!). But I believe the plan and goal is to have a few of the new tests rolled out for the beginning of next year to verify it's working well and can handle the incredible loads when schools start testing.

The stuff about being certified to teach the kids is probably a school based thing- it doesn't have anything to do with Adobe or Certiport. But in my opinion, I can't believe this isn't the case already! To prep for an industry exam you should know firsthand what it is and how to pass it! ;)

Adam Keys

Posted on 2/8/17 6:41:52 PM Permalink

Hello everyone. My name is Adam Keys. I have recently taken over the role of Product Manager for the ACA exams. In development of the exams, we must create simulations of the Photoshop software, which in some cases can create a discrepancy between expected methods of completion. We are constantly maintaining the exam items to provide an experience as close to the software as possible. As such, if you ever experience a question that you feel is not performing as it should, please make of note of the question and the specifics of the problem you see and I will explore the issue. Without specifics, it is often hard to identify the pain points you are experiencing.

As for structuring the exams to function as the MOS exams (Live in Application testing), we are currently developing a solution that will work in a similar fashion. Students will be able to take the test in the actual Adobe software and have every method of completion available to them. However, we will still be limited to simulation tests for this school year.

We regularly analyze the time taken on exam items, passing score, and psychometric data relating to overall exam success to improve certification exams. In analyzing current results, I can inform you that candidates have a slightly higher passing rate on the Photoshop CC 2015 exam compared to the Photoshop CC 2013 exam. From a holistic view, this confirms our view that the exam is functioning as anticipated in terms of difficulty. Again, if you have any specific items you would like me to look at for improvement please email as much detail as you can to

Thank you!

Kelley Camp

Posted on 1/13/17 3:14:43 PM Permalink

I completely agree. The exam is ridiculous! I take serious issue with the fact that there are often multiple ways to complete a task, but on the exam, you are limited to the way THEY want you to complete it. Not to mention I've run into the same technical issues others have mentioned with essential menus and tools being unavailable. I don't understand why the ACA exams aren't structured and simulated the same as the MOS exams.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 3/30/17 8:12:35 PM Permalink

Hey Kelley- I think you may see some changes to the ACA very soon that will indeed make it much more like the MOS exams! (With that being said, talk to teachers that have to work with that one, and it has it's own set of problems and issues... )

Steyn Pretorius

Posted on 1/13/17 8:51:04 AM Permalink

​I also have a few concerns about the Adobe ACA exams in general. Certain menu and tool options are made inactive in the interface simulation. The students are informed of this prior to taking the test. The issue is that we have experienced some technical issues regarding the loading of test questions. Sometimes the menu functionality is not loading properly resulting in a menu or tool to be inactive. When you refresh the question the functionality becomes active. When their is a loading error, the candidate may believe that the menu or tool is inactive and may not be able to complete the question. The candidate under pressure of completing a test now has multiple variables to contemplate resulting in a less than ideal scenario for testing your skills. Each software application has multiple ways built in to achieve a certain outcome and as a designer you develop your own methodology in interacting with the interface. The ACA tests however limits the candidate sometimes to one of the options, leaving the other inactive. You may know how to achieve the desired outcome, but the option that you are well versed in is not available in the test or you are not familiar with the required option.

Stacey Shanklin

Posted on 1/4/17 4:57:38 PM Permalink

​So, what came out of this because I'm about to start testing and part of my performance rating for my JOB depends on the outcomes of these exams. Suggestions? Because I'm not about to set my kids up for failure. :(

will milne

Posted on 1/5/17 10:00:01 PM Permalink

I'm not sure of any progress and I'm in the same boat you are in. Brandon Jackson replied below and might have more info on the subject.

Stacey Shanklin

Posted on 1/6/17 2:28:00 PM Permalink

Hi Will,

I have been in contact with our Certiport product rep here in the FL Panhandle. All he wants to do is sell me something that isn't in my budget and not much, back to square one.

Tony Hennessy

Posted on 1/6/17 3:55:59 PM Permalink

I have found certiport to be more worried about making money than helping Stacey.

I myself will have to do a re-test and I know myself the same problems are gonna be there and I still have no helpful answers from them.

Stacey Shanklin

Posted on 2/3/17 6:15:50 PM Permalink

Hi Tony,

I will have to retake the test too and I have been working in the industry and in Photoshop for several years now. I'm so frustrated and my kids are even more frustrated. I still haven't gotten any answers.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 3/30/17 8:15:07 PM Permalink

There IS progress! I can tell you from personal experience that it's in the works and a LOT is happening behind the scenes to address this issue! You'll see a bunch happening soon- not at liberty to say exactly what, but it IS coming soon! ​

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 3/8/17 12:41:39 AM Permalink

Hey everyone- Self-promoting here, but ​ is the most affordable solution for curriculum (usually than $5 a student per year) and ​definitely aligned to the exams. Because all the writers are teachers, we have a pretty good grip about what works in the classroom and the kids generally like our stuff... You can get it from your Certiport rep, or catch any one of us at a conference for a good discount! ;)

leah rachlis

Posted on 12/8/16 9:06:11 PM Permalink

​I totally agree that the last round of the Photoshop Exam was unrealistically difficult and discouraging (I am not even going to mention the technical issues). I have been working with Photoshop since it was in beta testing, I know it inside and out. I have been teaching it in high school and college level classes for almost a decade. I found even my best students were discouraged bye it. I am comforted to hear that others felt the same way.

Duran Burnett

Posted on 11/11/16 10:02:44 AM Permalink

​Bryan, I think it is hard to say if it is worth or not, I have found that there is usually 2 or three different exams my students' write, some passes really easily and other fails horribly. Now it might be that some study less than others but the questions they told me they got was sooo different from those who passed. To be ale to prepare for these exams is very difficult for me since i have no idea what to expect, the sample questions are not even covered in the exam anymore and the study guide is no more help.

The only thing I am positive about the ACA 2015 exam is that the simulator(practical) questions is a lot smoother than the previous exam. But some of the theory questions is soooo debatable that i cannot see how someone would be able to get them all right. I think Adobe should start creating textbooks that covers these exams in a better way. There is multiple textbooks that nails the practical questions, but none what so ever that covers the theory(scenario based) questions.

Also they do not consider people with educational licenses who cannot access certain things like the cloud libraries and all the syncing options there is. So when such questions are asked you have to guess blindly.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 3/30/17 8:19:55 PM Permalink

Hey Duran- I can tell you for sure that the Adobe Press LEARN series does cover the soft skills. It's an Adobe Press book and is the only one that directly maps to the ACA. I'm one of the authors, so a bit biased- but you can get your own instructor copy at the link below to evaluate and see if you think it might work well for your classes!

Bryan Johnson

Posted on 11/11/16 7:27:25 AM Permalink

​Does anyone know if this issue has been addressed and fixed? We are trying to decide whether to spend the $4300 on the testing for this year. Testing last year 2015-16 was horrible. Test prep materials were completely unrelated to exam questions. One of the biggest problems with the exam was with the Photoshop simulation questions. I have been using photoshop since version 2.5 (1992) and everyone knows that there are multiple ways of completing the same task in Photoshop (sometimes as many as 6 or more). You can go in through the menu, through righ click, through the toolbar, through shortcut keys, etc), yet the simulator will only except one method and often times it is obcure. I have told our CTE people, how would you like to take an exam and basicallly not know what is going to be on it at all and even if you do understand the question, there are six ways to do it but only one way is excepted.

Tony Hennessy

Posted on 1/6/17 3:50:49 PM Permalink

Nothing has been fixed Bryan as far as they are
concerned it's working and it's the participant's lack of knowledge which is why they fail.

They are quiet a few problems with the Photoshop CC 2015 and an email sent with the issues including the one that you have described and what I got back from them is in lay man's terms it's my lack of knowledge and experience. They won't even consider looking at the issues as like I said there is no issues.

Maryellen Gross

Posted on 10/25/16 11:20:30 AM Permalink

​I agree. I have over 15 years experience as a Graphic Designer and used Adobe Products throughout my career and now that I am teaching H.S. students I find it disheartening that the 2015 Photoshop test was as wordy and impractical as it is. What resources will better prepare the kids? Our school uses GMetrix and then teacher created tutorials. Neither of them fully prepares the kids.

Duran Burnett

Posted on 10/3/16 7:42:02 AM Permalink

​Honestly Certiport has been super unreliable for at least 2 years now. The simulation is an absolute joke, they even label some of the icons wrong. When you ask me to use the quick selection tool and i click on it and it says magic wand tool it confuses me since i know for a fact I am right even though you can continue using the wrong labeled tool its super confusing during tests like this.

Scenario questions is also one of the weirdest thing for me included in these tests. Main reason being you are suppose to test knowledge about adobe photoshop not design theory, design theory is included in other subjects when you are doing a diploma or degree.

Then you might argue yes but then students should find it easy, well no offense certiport your theory is usually really really debatable. its like you are asking opinion based questions but only has one right answer. I feel like keep it to the practical and sure include theory questions but keep it relevant to the program, i am in fact writing the test for the program not the theory. If you keep on doing tests like this having indesign illustrator animate dreamweaver are later on going to be the same test.

tl dr

Keep questions related to the program.

Also fix the simulator it is full of insane problems.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 3/30/17 2:49:37 AM Permalink

Quick tip on the "scenario based" questions... forget the paragraph unless you need it. Just read the question at the bottom and answer the question. The scenario might help if you're not sure what it's asking... it will flesh out the need.

But if students have a hard time with the reading- it's perfectly legit to just skip the scenario.

Francesca Mangano

Posted on 9/19/16 9:46:57 AM Permalink

​I'm working in the Design industry for the last 20 years and in the last 3 years I'm in the Education systems. I thought that the previous exam was extremely easy and while it was demonstrating the Photoshop knowledge (tools , workspace etc.) of the candidate, it wasn't testing the design capability of the candidate, or the students problem solving capabilities. When candidate will be in a work environment, dealing with clients, will need the gift of understanding audience and what is required to complete the task and produce the final product requested. Scenario-based questions do give the opportunity to test this capabilities.

I've sat other industry recognized tests ( Microsoft Software exams, and Java associate exam) and they all tend to have questions which seems to trick candidate. But if someone has practiced they will be able to answer.

I've sat both version of Photoshop CC 2013 and 2015 and no trouble passing it. I admit this type of exams are not my favorites, I prefer see what they can do with Photoshop by using Portfolio projects, but students has to be able to react and adapt if they want to survive in today world. I also noticed that students who produced great portfolios, passed the exam easily.

If candidates do practice Photoshop, and has studied Design principles and project requirements material , they will be well able to pass the Visual Design using Photoshop CC 2015 exam.

Layla Cecil

Posted on 5/5/16 7:18:10 PM Permalink

I teach Web Development at a Tech Center. I experienced the same jarring whiplash between the 2013 and the 2015 exam, as did the Digital Design instructor at our school. The 2013 exam asked pertinant, reasonable questions. The 2015 exam? Goodness. Especially the scenario questions, which seemed to be fixated on "what's the first thing to ask about x?"-type questions. Not to mention that GMetrix spent forever this year before they updated their training content. I'd sent two students down to fail, not knowing that the GMetrix items labelled 2015 had yet to be updated to 2015 content.

Brandon Jackson

Posted on 4/26/16 9:59:38 PM Permalink

Hello Will. I am the ACA Product Manager at Certiport. Thank you for providing your feedback about the new ACA Photoshop CC 2015 exam. I am sorry to hear that you are not happy with the level of difficulty of the exam and I would like to discuss this with you further to see find out your specific concerns. Please email me at so that I can set up a time to meet with you and discuss the exam further.

Dena Wilson

Posted on 4/26/16 6:40:41 PM Permalink

I agree also. The ACA test was/is a good test. It's valuable. But the danger appears to be as it is updated it seems to go further and further away from testing to see if a person can adequately USE Photoshop to testing to see if they know obscure uses or techniques. (I guess assuming that if they know these, they would know the basics???) And, while scenarios seem like a great idea, if the question can be asked without the scenario then leave it off! It is a timed test. I am not saying dumb down the test, but at the end of the day we still need to know if person can open a file, save a file, manipulate a file - basics - along with some good general knowledge. Not necessarily can they save a file in an rarely used format with rarely used settings. Please take a second look at this new ACA and get back to some good, old, SOLID basics!

will milne

Posted on 4/26/16 7:27:58 PM Permalink

Well said! I fully agree. This version of the test seems like more of a "gotcha" than a test that actually focuses on someone's ability to use real world Photoshop.

Brandon Jackson

Posted on 4/26/16 10:11:42 PM Permalink

Hello Dena. I am the ACA Product Manager at Ceritport. The intent of the ACA exams is to do more than just validate a test candidate's knowledge of the Adobe application. It is also to validate that a candidate can design using the software. Therefore, the test asks questions about design principles as well as how to perform tasks in the application.

The reason we added scenarios to the CC 2015 exams was to help give context to the question and put a test candidate in a more real-life type scenario. On the job, an employee will likely be asked to design something rather than be asked to perform a specific task in Photoshop so to help emulate that we added scenarios.

I can understand your concern about time. The scenarios do add more reading to the exam, which is why we tried to keep them short and not include them on every question. We do monitor the time it takes each candidate to complete an exam and we will make adjustments if too many test candidates are unable to complete the exam in the alloted time. So far, it hasn't been an issue, but we will continue to monitor it.

If you would like to discuss the exam further, please email me at and we can set up a time to discuss this further.

Billie McNair

Posted on 4/28/16 3:42:07 PM Permalink

then the study guide for adobe needs to be more specific for the new 2015 exam. On the job you can sit and figure out new skills, google etc as needed. With a time limit of 1 minute to figure out an unused skill is a little unrealistic. A player knows how to play basketball but to ask them the dimensions of the court take test preparation.

Tony Hennessy

Posted on 5/28/16 2:35:44 PM Permalink

I am sorry to say I am new to Adobe products and have taken exams in photoshop & dreamweaver cs6 along with photoshop cc 2013 and I am trying to understand dreamweaver cc 2013 but between Gmetrix and Certiport there is some major differences Gmetrix has you going one way and when it comes to the test Certiport goes it's own way there was one example in dreamweaver where you had to know what an icon was however the red arrow that was suppose to be pointing to it was in between two icons (the correct one was add to favourites) that question is still in use. Another one is to merge to cells together yet when you try to do it the "merge cells" is greyed out the funny thing is if you click on it it will work.
Why is it so hard to have Gmetrix & Certiport get together and work on the exams and prep exams and to have some common ground and why in the exam are you not allowed to use shortcuts ?

Charter High School of the Arts

Posted on 4/28/16 3:26:11 AM Permalink

I completely agree with each person and Dena Wilson's articulation of the problems with this new exam version, I've been training students for this ACA exam for seven years and I've taken the exams for versions CS4, CS5.5 and now CC 2015, and I was very much taken by surprise by the questions regarding the "obscure uses and techniques" and the unneeded scenarios that just slow down the test takers. It was much more difficult and awkward than the previous versions. It also seemed there were less typography, color theory and design questions and more tricky questions on those rarely used techniques and settings.
This seemed to be solely written by educators who haven't actually been in the classroom in a while and are trying to trick the test takers and not actually test for their solid knowledge of design and Photoshop. My brother is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and the test to save lives is straight forward, they learn the processes, techniques, and information from a bank of 1000 questions, and the exam asks them 50 of those questions. Very straight forward, so why are these new ACA exam questions worse, poorly written, and make it so much more difficult than it needs to be.
Perhaps professional designers should write the test, because they know the practical knowledge that our students need to know, and are more likely to leave off the useless random questions!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 3/30/17 2:53:36 AM Permalink

Hi Charter School! Actually- there are educators AND designers on the test writing team. The industry is changing- as are workflows and output. I agree there are some questions that seem out of scope on CC15, but it's less buggy than 2013 generally speaking. To answer some of the concerns here... there's rumors that seem to be accurate that these problems should disappear in the next year. I know Adobe and Certiport are both working on it!

Kathleen Bani

Posted on 4/26/16 5:52:19 PM Permalink

Yes, I agree, I noticed it immediately. I am also teaching high school students, however I cannot give my students the 2013 version because the county that I work in will only accept the 2015 version. There are several question that no matter how many times I take the test I just cannot due. Terrible test, they also cannot spell or form complete sentences. WHO WRITES THIS STUFF!

will milne

Posted on 4/26/16 7:31:01 PM Permalink

It is a very jarring transition from the 2013 version of the test to the 2015 one. I'm not sure what happened.

Brandon Jackson

Posted on 4/26/16 10:23:34 PM Permalink

Hello Kathleen. I am the ACA Product Manager at Certiport. I would love to hear more about your experience with the new ACA Photoshop CC 2015 exam. I would especially like to know more about the spelling and grammatical errors you have seen so we can get that fixed right away.

I would also like to hear your thoughts on the difficulty of the exam since you seem to have some concerns. We actually try to keep the exam difficulty level consistent from one version of the exam to the next. We use industry recognized psychometric analysis to evaluate each item to assure that each question on the exam is neither too easy nor too hard. In addition, we recruit the help from educators who are currently teaching ACA to both help us write exam questions and to review exam questions to again help us make sure the difficulty level is right for the high school level.

Madeleine Zubyk

Posted on 3/29/17 2:48:56 PM Permalink

We are a high school using GMetrix for practice for the Photoshop 2015 CC exam. I'm highly disappointed that many questions in the exam are not in the GMetrix practice. Any alternatives?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 3/30/17 2:55:39 AM Permalink

Madeline- I know Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach down here are some of the largest distrticts with the most numbers of tests taken and certifications given... I'll bet if you ask your Certiport rep what these counties are using- they can tell you for sure!