Lightroom 3 ACE Exam Aid Now Available

The folks over at have announced their Lightroom 3 Exam Aid. Now, if you’re thinking “Hey, it’s about time – Lightroom 3 has been out for about 10 months now”, just know that Adobe doesn’t typically release the ACE exam for it’s products until 6-12 months after the product release. I can’t recommend the Exam Aids enough. If you’re serious about prepping for the test, the time and energy that this saves you is huge.

Also, whenever I talk about any new exam prep material being released it’s usually about this time that people come on and comment about how exams are useless and your real-world knowledge is all that counts. Some people also write in and are just genuinely curious how much an ACE exam really matters out there (but that’s typically after they read some one say that the ACE exam is useless 🙂 ). So here’s my thoughts:

First, the only people that comment about how the exams are useless are those that haven’t taken it (and usually can’t pass it). The way I see an ACE exam (or most industry proficiency exams for that matter) are that they can’t ever hurt you. Will they always help? Nope. But if it’s you and another person up for a job, your resumes are similar, this could be the thing that differentiates you. And that’s what it’s all about. Differentiation. I absolutely believe the quality of your work should be your first point of differentiation. Your work needs to grab attention. But once you’ve grabbed that attention, I’ll take anything else I can to help keep it and hopefully turn it into a job. We’re hiring a new Photoshop Guy right now. I didn’t discard any resumes because they didn’t have an ACE certification on them. But the ones that did kind of jumped out at me because I know from experience, it’s not an easy test. It means this person went that one extra step to prove their proficiency in Photoshop. Backed up by a good portfolio of work, it definitely helps.

Think of it this way. It’s kinda like getting a good GPA in college. Will that land you a job for sure? Nope. Will it help set you apart from the other masses of people looking for a job? Definitely. And, by the way, the only classmates that tell other classmates that GPA’s don’t matter, are the ones with a lower GPA.

So who’s the exam really for? Mostly for people looking to get work in the photography business. If you’re just a passionate hobbyist, then passing the exam won’t do anything for you other than making you feel good about your knowledge. It’s not automatically going to turn you into a sought-after photographer that everybody wants to have. Think of it as the icing on the cake.

So if you are looking to pass the ACE exam do two things: 1) Ignore the people that tell you it’s worthless and, 2) Check out the prep exams from They are simply the best out there and will shave hours (if not days) off of your exam prep time.



  1. Camille 20 April, 2011 at 21:15 Reply

    I just got certified for Lightroom a couple of weeks ago. There were many more questions about Photoshop than I anticipated. I used Classroom in a Book to prep for the test.

  2. Mark Dalrymple 20 April, 2011 at 19:55 Reply

    Certification exams, and test prep software, can be useful for folks who have no intention of taking the exams. For me, these things provide a curriculum for knowing a product through and through, which makes you a more effective user / employee / photo monkey. I did something similar when I took my Oracle DBA certification. I learned Oracle through and through, even though I didn’t intend of being a DBA, but wanted to be a more effective programmer and user of the DB.

  3. Scott Mc 20 April, 2011 at 15:30 Reply

    While I completely go with your overall message, I feel compelled to argue on the concept that the only people who say the test useless are the people who don’t take them.
    I come from the computer world where this is a big deal. I’ve told people (including my son) that Hardware/Network certifications are vital – software certifications not so much. Why the difference? Because the Hardware/Network world tends to be more rout – you fix this problem this way. On the software side there are countless different solutions for each situation. You have to think outside of the box more. In my experience the people who take the certs on the software side do it because they aren’t as strong with the creative aspect. If I pull up someones resume and the first thing I see is their certifications it raises a flag. Why are they pushing certifications instead of experience? Now – two equally good candidates – one has a certificate, I’d probably go with that person. But the certification is the secondary measure. Plus I’ve seen instances where the certification becomes a limiting factor because they can’t push beyond it.
    To me the value of the certification is to round out the real skills. It takes a solid candidate and finishes him or her. But it doesn’t make them.

    I see Photoshop and Lightroom falling on the more creative side of the fence.

    My two cents…

    • Keith Skinner 21 April, 2011 at 12:14 Reply

      Sorry,Scott Mc, I have to disagree with you completely. Having just left a 27 year IT career as a developer, designer and applications manager, certs are valuable across the board — you just need to pursue the right cert. I have ICCP’s CSP cert. Some of my colleagues tried to pass it multiple times and couldn’t. You need broad knowledge, good memory, and the ability to think quickly under pressure (approx. 10 secs/question). It’s hard and I’ll argue that my career bears out my skill. I’m considering ACE because I’d like to teach LR classes part time. Since I have not been a pro photographer for 20+ years, I feel ACE certification will assure future employers/students that I possess some degree of proficiency.

    • Keith Skinner 21 April, 2011 at 13:37 Reply

      I have to disagree with you, Scott Mc. I just completed a 27 year career in IT (analyst, developer, architect, and application manager). Certs are valuable across the board — you just need to get the right cert. I have the ICCP CSP certificate. Some of my colleagues attempted the certification multiple times and were unable to make the necessary scores. It’s difficult — you need broad knowledge, good memory and the ability to think clearly under pressure (with only about 10 secs./question). Having knowledge you can command under those circumstances means something when solving problems and delivering solutions. I am considering the ACE exam because I want to teach LR part time. Since I haven’t been a practicing PRO photographer for 27 years, the cert will give potential employers & students some level of confidence that I possess the necessary proficiency to teach the subject matter.

  4. Shangara Singh 20 April, 2011 at 12:40 Reply

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Matt. Regarding the late release, the Photoshop Lightroom ACE exam is more out of step with the product release than the other exams (except for Premiere Pro) and has been since version 1.0 was released. Now that Creative Suite has moved to a 24 month release cycle, there is hope Lightroom will also follow and, if it does, the exam may catch up when Lightroom 4 is released.

  5. John B. 20 April, 2011 at 11:48 Reply

    For new Photoshop Guy, I nominate Dave Cuerdon!! (great sense of humor)

    Or if Dave is not available, how about Lee Varis (he’ll give you a little West Coast perspective)…

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