Adobe Certified Expert - InDesign CS2
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CS3 Certified

A long last, Adobe has made CS3 certification and re-certification exams available. For anyone looking to get certified in InDesign, I’ll reiterate what I said in May of 2006 when I passed my CS2 ACE exam: study. When you think you’ve studied enough…keep studying.

I consider myself a fairly sharp guy, and I live and breathe InDesign on a daily basis, but even this re-certification exam — which was made up of 47 questions covering only new CS3 features — was, to say the least, challenging. The questions are obscure, very strategically and often cryptically worded, and the multiple-choice answers are structured so well that they’ll have you doubting your own certainty as to which is correct.

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m better in practice than theory, or just a lousy test-taker, but I’m just glad I passed and I have another full version cycle before I have to be put through one of these exams again.

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31 Responses to “CS3 Certified”

  1. I agree, the test was really really hard. I spent the entire 2 hours throughly researching the answers just to make sure. I also just took the photoshop CS3 recert test, and it too was a dog. Same as InDesign. They are all very very hard now.

  2. James Wamser says:

    I agree, both the InDesign CS3 test and Photoshop CS3 tests were very challenging. Then again, I thought the Acrobat 8 Professional test was challenging as well.


  3. Whew! So it’s not just me. That’s good to know. The Acrobat and Photoshop exams are on my very long to-do list for 2008. I didn’t expect they’d be any easier. Time to hunker down and start a study plan.

  4. F vd Geest (WA Veghel) says:

    To be honest, in comparison I found the InCopy (on-line) test very easy…

  5. Good to know about InCopy. I’m hoping to squeeze that in this year, too. Maybe it has something to do with InCopy’s (relatively) small feature set. As an application that largely depends on another application, its unique aspects are far fewer than InDesign’s, and certainly Photoshop’s.

  6. I don’t see an InCopy CS3 exam available. FWIW, I actually found the InCopy CS2 exam more difficult than the InDesign CS2 exam.

    Since it’s a much smaller application the questions were a bit more specific about certain features.

    BTW, for anyone checking out Michael’s link to the ACE page. Note that as of right now the links to the certification and recertification guides for InDesign CS3 are reversed. I’ve contacted some folks at a Adobe about it and hopefully it will get corrected soon.

  7. Thanks for that, Bob. It makes perfect sense that an InCopy exam would be more specific given the number of features to number of questions ratio. Just when you think you might catch a break…. 🙂

  8. F vd Geest (WA Veghel) says:

    >I don’t see an InCopy CS3 exam available. FWIW, I actually found the InCopy CS2 exam more difficult than the InDesign CS2 exam

    I was talking about CS2 indeed, have not taken the CS3 for InCopy (it is not there yet).
    But I found the InCopy CS2 easy…
    Not to boost but it was very to the point. I had a 92% score. (looking smug and proud here 🙂
    But, I have never taken an Photoshop, so this may be harder. The InDesign exam was, in my opinion, tougher (and by the way in English while I work in a Dutch version)
    Your Score: Pass (92.9%)

    Maybe its because I do a lot in day to day training and work in an InDesign/InCopy workflow?

    I have not ‘upgraded’ to the CS3 certification yet, I know, I should… 🙁

  9. I took the InCopy test and found it quite easy too. I also have taken Quarks certification test and it was hard, but not as hard as ID CS3 recert. I plan on taking the Acrobat test soon, but I have a feeling it is going to be tough.

    In order of difficulty of test that I have taken I would rank them below hardest to easiest. For the record, I have friends that took the Illustrator CS2 test, and said it was really really hard.

    Photoshop CS3 recert
    InDesign CS3 recert
    InDesign CS2 test
    Quark 7 test
    Photoshop CS2 test
    InCopy CS2

  10. Gary Spedding says:

    As someone who will never take any of these tests, but after speaking with and hearing from you experts, I think Adobe have this all messed up. Now I have set many exams in my own area so I can speak to test making and taking.

    If you guys are finding this so incredibly hard Adobe have it all wrong. What hope is there for others (less “qualified” than you)? Obscure questions help no one (but they could let you know about obscure features through training). The exams should assess your skills and knowledge level to see if you are ready to go train others (a train the trainer program as we see in other fields these days)and not to torture you.

    Adobe seems to produce good products but have no clue about exams and skills testing. You are the ones who should be writing exams not these people who develop the program and know a little secret feature here and there that would serve no one any use whatsoever. Go tell it on the mountain – please forward my note to Adobe.


    Gary Spedding, Ph.D.

  11. It makes you wonder what there up to… I have to recertify in InDesign and Illustrator now after recertifying already in Photoshop. I have to say I think it would be easier to sit the whole exam than do a recertification exams. I have taken the PS recert exam and the ID recert exam. I passed the PS exam and failed the ID exam on my first attempt.

    I have been studying all the Creative Suite new features since beta and have been conducting CS3 integration training, I feel well equipped with working knowledge of all the in’s and out’s of PS, ID and IL but these exams are ruthless this time round. I dont think they could twist the questions any more than they already are.

    If the exams were in common english we’d all be right.


  12. I forgot to mention if you want a good way to cross check your exam get hold of a screen capture application like iShowU and record the exam on your screen as you do it. You can go over it again later and analyze all you want.

  13. That’s a great suggestion, Neil. It occurred to me only after taking the test that I could have done that or at least do static screen shots of each question (that would avoid processing 2 hours of on-screen activity). Of course, this only applies to re-certification (which can be taken at home). Initial certification exams have to be done at a third-party facility where this isn’t an option.

  14. Steve Werner says:

    David Blatner has just posted on that the InDesign CS3 ACE exams are in the process of being revised. The recertification exam has been changed, and the full InDesign exam is expected soon!

  15. Hi guys! I took my exam about two weeks ago and felt that was horrible. There were questions on there that simply had nothing to do with InDesign! I think everyone is in the same boat on this. Everyone I have spoken to so far has said the same thing. I’ll be taking the Illustrator exam next week and can only hope that it isn’t has horrible as the InDesign exam!

  16. Chad — Word on the street is that, as of today, the test(s) should have been re-written in response to the firestorm of controversy that’s popped up online both here and on the InDesign Secrets blog. Hopefully, you’ll fare better than us early-adopters when you take your Illustrator exam next week. I’m not sure if the exams for all CS3 apps have been updated, or if they’ve just addressed the InDesign exam problems. Best of luck on the test, Chad.

  17. I took the ID CS3 Recert exam again… I passed this time, 90%. I have to say the questions and answers were worded in plain english this time round. Anyone wanting to take the exam again can rest assured, it is in plain english, my simple mind could understand it!

    Sorry to keep harping on, I know this is an exclusive InDesign site, however seeming were on the topic already, has anyone seen the prep guide for the Illustrator CS3 recertification exam? It is a complete shambles as was the initial ID recert exam.

    I’ll give you an example: Topic 6 has a heading of “Working with Vector Tools”, listed below it are the content in which the questions will be based, – List and describe the functionality Adobe Bridge provides for viewing assets?… What! Hah! Ummm! followed by – Explain how to apply metadata and keywords to assests in Adobe Bridge? Now I don’t consider myself a genius but last time I checked Adobe Bridge doesn’t have much to do with Vector Tools, Correct! Then you go down the list a bit to no.8’s Heading “Managing Assets with Bridge” followed by “Not covered in this exam”. What the!

    Hmmm, I have a question Adobe, Question-
    A. Should Neil take this test and risk failing it because I wasn’t give clear direction from the exam provider?
    B. Should Neil just risk it and see if the questions are as cryptic as the first InDesign exam was and risk his 50 bucks and sanity?
    C. Just dont bother?
    D. Wait becuase Adobe will come through with the goods again?

    Michael, can you help in this regard by informing Adobe of this? It would be appreciated.


  18. David Crossley says:

    I took the Photoshop CS3 ACE (26Feb 08). I do not agree with the many posters on various message boards that it was unduly hard or badly written. Some questions were poorly worded and one was actually meaningless, but even if all these were missed, passing is still easy. I did not like the fact that it is very overweighted on WEB and production print preparation. You better go in knowing the arcane properties of every file type on the planet. The 3D and video were minimal and none of the new medical stuff from Extended. It’s called PHOTOshop not WEBshop so a lot of people who are good image manipulators will fail due to the emphasis on web stuff.

  19. David —

    Adobe has (prior to the date you took the test) re-written the CS3 certification and re-certification exams, so that probably explains why the test was less arduous for you (and I’m glad it was). I’ve never taken a Photoshop ACE exam, but the very point that you mention is why I’m scared to take it. Photoshop has turned into a tool used by many people who do entirely different things. I’m a print designer, so many of Photoshop’s web tools and the tools for digital photographers are outside of my area of expertise. When I pick up Photoshop User magazine these days, I wonder if I’m still, technically, a Photoshop user anymore, because it seems to be written to a completely different audience than it used to be. Granted, a broad-ranging tool needs to make room for all its new users from different disciplines, but it shouldn’t cast off the audience that made it the industry-standard software hit has become. It’s unfortunate that the test is skewing in that direction as well. I’m sure, however, that a web person would (justifiably) disagree with me.

    It may be time to split the certification into categories, and create two different tests.

  20. Cathy Palmer says:

    I took the InDesign CS3 recert online, and so of course they released the revised version of the exam on the following day. No worries, I did pass the icky version of the test although many of the questions were not entirely clear.

    The best suggestion while preparing for these certifications: Read the Help file. Yes, the entire thing. If you want a headstart on the tricky software exceptions that may likely become tricky test questions, run a search for “Note” in the Help Viewer. This will bring up every instance where there was the need to clarify a detail on how the software functions. I noticed that a few of the test answers were taken directly word-for-word from the Notes in Help.

    Best of Luck to everyone taking these tests!

  21. Great advice, Cathy. That’s exactly how I got certified the first time around. The help files (or the user guide) are written in the same, clinical language as the tests, and while it’s probably not the best way to learn how to use InDesign effectively, it’s the best way (in my experience) to pass the test.

  22. Joe Suraci says:

    Hi all. I’ve just finished reading the 69 posts on the IDSecrets page and the 21 here. Between this page and that one, I am terrified to waste the money on the cert despite the revision. I am a teacher/designer and strongly disagree with Adobe’s method of assessment. Semantic games alone do not produce a VALID test. I have read the practice questions and three letters come to mind on some questions, WTF! I have been using ID for years, though I knew the back and sides of it, but to my dismay I realize what makes me an EXPERT is my ability to MEMORIZE the Help file? What? How can you sit and read a help file word for word (btw, if anyone has a link to a printable version t’would be appreciated, lol). I believe expertise should be measured by one’s ability to PROBLEM SOLVE (translation for people at Adobe: problem solve= find a solution to a specific problem) any potential “real-life” scenario in the software, and not to be required to memorize what every side note states in a help file. Absurd.

  23. Joe — I don’t disagree with you in principle on any of what you’ve said. I was already doing my podcast for several months when I took my first certification and I failed it. Even when I passed the second attempt (and the re-certification recently), it wasn’t a test I’d hang up on the refrigerator with pride.

    I think the test proves more about your ability to pass the test than it does in InDesign, but I will say this: I have noticed over time as I get asked more and more questions about the application, that I can trace back my ability to answer those questions to things I learned when studying the User Guide for the exam. So there’s some benefit there, or at least there has been for me. I still think the tests are fundamentally flawed, but I wouldn’t say they’re entirely without some merit or value.

  24. Chris Myers says:

    It seems as with some other types of certification tests that the questions are moving along this line because the producers know people will pay to retake the test if they fail.

    It’s a great way to make easy money for Adobe.

  25. As cynical as I know I can be, Chris, I’m not quite that cynical. I think if anyone who was just plain good in the application could pass this test, the “expert” certification would be diluted and mean far less. I don’t think the test costs are excessive (and I’ve paid twice…once to fail and once to pass), or are really making Adobe much money in the big picture. And seeing as they are giving people full credit to re-test for free based on the problems with the first version of the test, this particular problem sounds like an embarrassing blunder, not a deliberate strategy.

  26. Joe Suraci says:

    Michael- Ya know, that seems like a valid point. I have to say that was exactly the kind of insightful response I needed to make me put down my weapons and smile. Thanks.

  27. Joe Suraci says:

    Just for laughs, I have suggestion for an ACE-like test question:

    How many yellow lights can be seen on the Friendly Alien’s spacecraft?
    a. 8
    b. 9
    c. 9, while pressing the Shift key
    d. 8 lights and 1 yellow anti-gravity flux capacitor

  28. I am very interested in obtaining my Adobe Certification in InDesign CS3. Are there any practice exams that you would recommend to prepare for this certification. Thanks.

  29. Robbie —

    The answer to this question — which I get asked a lot — is better suited to a full blog post than a comment. Look for that in a couple of days. I can only answer based on my own experience, but I think that’s worth sharing with everyone who’s seeking certification.

  30. Jack Martin says:

    I’d like to be certified, but I’m also wondering what the point is. How are people using their certification after all the effort? To get better jobs? To prove you’re qualified to teach? To show Dad you didn’t waste his college money? 🙂

  31. Ammar Midani says: