Having done many Adobe Certified Expert exams over the years, I thought it might be helpful to put together a few tips and tricks for those thinking of taking their first Adobe Certified Expert exam.
Booking the Exam
The Adobe ACE exams are currently run through the Pearson Vue network of testing centres, which also runs exams for organisations including Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, and Oracle.
The centres are available at a wide range of locations across the UK, and you can find your nearest centre using the Pearson Vue centre finder at http://www.pearsonvue.com/adobe/locate/
Exams are all booked online through the above site, and availability will vary depending upon the location in question. For my own exams I use a centre in Leeds which offers availability 5 days a week, and I am typically able to book 1 or 2 days before the required date. Some centres however only offer a small number of days each month, and you may need to book a week or two in advance.
The Test Centre
When you arrive at the test centre (make sure you are there half an hour before the start time) you will be signed in. This typically involves signing a form or two, presenting your ID, having your photo taken, and emptying all your pockets and putting your stuff in a locker (some centres may not have lockers and may ask you to leave it in a bag at reception). Typical items that can not be taken into the test room would be your watch, mobile, money, handkerchief etc.
Once you are taken into the exam room, you will be seated at a small cubicle with a screen and keyboard, and typically a camera somewhere nearby pointing at you. The responsible adult will then sign you into the system and leave you on the first page of the test system, ready for you to continue. To commence the test just follow the instructions on the screen.
The exam terms which you agree to at the start of the exam prohibit you from discussing specific questions, so I can't give examples of the questions here. If you do want some sample questions to practice on then have a look at our free skills tests which can be found at https://www.highlander.co.uk/free-skills-tests These are written by myself and other certified instructors at Highlander and give an idea of the type of questions you will find in the exams.
The questions in the ACE exams are all in a multiple choice format and some offer an image for you to look at before answering the question. It is fair to say they are designed to be challenging and you should not under estimate the technical level of the exams. Adobe doesn't want you passing unless you know the product inside out, and the exams do reflect that with the questions requiring you to know every possible option. This means even though you may do something every day (eg: with a right mouse click), the answer included in the exam may be an alternative way of doing the same thing (for example from a menu) which you don't normally use. You are still expected to know it.
If you are unsure of the right answer to a question, I have found a good approach is to rule out which answers are wrong. Quite often you will end up with all but one being clearly wrong giving you the answer. Also it is not unknown for a later question to give the answer to an earlier one, this is something I have encountered a couple of times.
You can mark questions for review later (this allows you to come back to them at the end), and you can also flag questions if you are absolutely certain there is an error in them. Whilst some of the questions are slightly ambiguous though, I don't ever recall encountering a mistake in an exam, and Adobe do Beta test the exams thoroughly before releasing them.
Finally you will have a timer at the top of the screen which lets you know how long you have left. If you do start to run out of time then I would advise quickly going through the remaining questions and selecting some answers. You might get the right answer, and not answering them will automatically be classed as a wrong answer anyway.
How To Prepare
There are various ways you can prepare for the exams, and our own courses are a good start. Your instructor will have done the exam themselves and are well positioned to offer guidance, also as our courses are Adobe Certified the content is very in-tune with the Adobe way of doing things.
In addition to any formal training you will also need to practice, and turn what you have learnt into habit. After all you are going to have to recall it without the luxury of having the software in front of you. You should work through all the menus, look at all the panels (including their respective menus), and get to grips with as many short cuts as possible.
Other options for learning include books and online video, however whilst these can be very good they are generally a more drawn out process. Also they tend to be more suited to advanced learners looking to fill a few gaps in their knowledge.
Whichever way you choose to go the exams are tough but worth the effort and it is very satisfying to be recognised as an Adobe Certified Expert.