My experience preparing for the Adobe Photoshop ACE exam

I’m republishing this Dec. 19, 2013 blog post from my old website. Much time has past, but this was a popular post and I want to preserve it for the design community. Note: some of the information and URLs have changed. At the end of the post I will share info from an interview I did with CreativeBloq about ACE certification and some comments. Good luck! Click here to read about my Adobe Certified Professional exam in Illustrator (2022)

I passed!

After years of working with Photoshop, I was ready to challenge myself to learn new things and test my knowledge of the software. With no immediate plans to upgrade to Photoshop CC, I decided to focus on the version I had the most experience with and currently use, Adobe Photoshop CS6.

It is easy to continue using Photoshop in the same routine, with the same tools you have always used. Nothing forced me to learn the intricacies of Photoshop like preparing for this exam. I will share my experience in preparing for and passing the Photoshop CS6 ACE Exam. I hope that you find my experience helpful in your journey.

The Adobe Exam Guideline

I started by reviewing the Adobe exam guide and read about the exam format and topics covered. The guide recommends at least 3 years of Photoshop experience. For general info about Adobe certification, check out the certification home page (old URL).

The Preparation

Exam Aids
My primary preparation tool for the exam was the Photoshop CS6 ACE Exam Aid from Exam Aids. The Exam Aid includes 663 questions that cover topics from the Adobe exam guide. The questions are written by authors who have experience taking the Adobe Certified Expert Exam. The questions are written in a similar format to the exam and include links to the corresponding Adobe help file associated with the question. As I read through the prep questions, I would walk-through the steps in Bridge, Camera Raw or Photoshop if I was unfamiliar with the answer. The Exam Aid also has a review and practice exam mode.

I must stress that the questions in the Exam Aid are not necessarily the questions you will see on the exam. It serves as a general guide and preparation for the style of the exam. For this reason, you must use several sources to prepare for the exam. Alternatively, you could read the Photoshop Help files.
If you have access to Lynda training, I recommend the following series by author Deke McClelland (Deke rocks!). You can watch the entire series or view the videos that are relevant to the topics in the Adobe exam guide.

Photoshop CS6 New Features (old URL removed)
Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Mastery

Psdtuts offers offered a series of free quizzes to test your knowledge of Photoshop CS5 and CS6. I would recommend both sets.

Working in Photoshop
Don’t forget to integrate your new training while using Photoshop, rather than only watching and reading training. Familiarize yourself with the areas of the software that you may not use regularly.

Scheduling the Exam

Once you have studied the exam topics and feel confident you know the material, you are ready to schedule your exam. I scheduled the exam through Pearson Vue. You will need to locate a test center and select the appropriate exam. NOTE: Exam service has since changed.


Keyboard shortcuts are key. MANY of the questions on the exam involved keyboard shortcuts and modifier keys.  It is not enough to know how to perform a function within Photoshop, you need to know every alternate way you can perform it and the keyboard shortcuts that are involved.

Stay focused on the exam topics and study them in detail. General knowledge of each topic is not enough.

The Benefits

If you are self-motivated and seeking to challenge yourself to learn more about Photoshop, the ACE exam will do this. Beyond your portfolio, the Adobe Certified Expert designation will distinguish you from other Photoshop users.

Special Thanks

In the spirit of sharing, I want to give a special thanks to a fellow Photoshop user that I had the pleasure of working with very early in my career. This person freely shared their knowledge of Photoshop and showed me the power of masking, blending modes and much more. Thank you Gary Hart, I wish everyone shared like you.

If this post has helped you in some way, please share a comment.

With great pleasure,
Jamie Carroll, Adobe Certified Expert
Photoshop CS6

Adobe Certification: Interview with CreativeBloq

This is republished from my Aug. 8, 2018 post:

I was recently interviewed by Tom May, a writer for – an art and design inspiration website. Tom’s article focuses on how to become Adobe certified. Tom asked me about my experience preparing for and taking the Adobe Photoshop certification exam. I encourage you to check out Tom’s article and my original blog post on the subject.

CreativeBloq article:
“The designer’s guide to becoming Adobe certified”


Republished from the original blog post:

Ben February 22, 2015 |

Hi Jamie,

I’m looking into studying and taking the exam.

I know this post is a year or so old (hope you still see it) do you wish you would have taken the cc exam or you still happy being certified in cs6. What advice do you have in choosing which exam to take.


Jamie February 23, 2015 |

Hi Ben – The CS6 exam was right for me at the time, because I had the most experience with it and I continue to use it. If you certify in CS6, you will be certified in that version. If you certify in CC, you will be certified for a period of time in that version, since Adobe continually adds updates. Study hard and good luck with your exam!


Alberto March 11, 2015 |

Hi Jamie,

thank you to share your experience.

After many years working on PS (since PS3) I’m now looking to take the ACE exam.

Since a minimum of 3 years of experience is required, I wonder how Adobe can check this out. Also, could you share your experience on the survey we have to undergo during the exam session which Adobe use to gather information about our product experience ?

Many thanks!

Jamie March 11, 2015 |

Hello – The 3 years experience is a suggestion, not a requirement. You do not have to verify years of experience. There is a brief survey before the exam, you are required to complete it, but you are not graded on it. The survey is general information about your product experience. Good luck!


Robert Perfetto August 3, 2015 |


I am looking into studying and taking the exam. Right now, I don’t have a job using the adobe software but may in the future. I mainly use the software for my own personal use, but would like to advance my skills and knowledge. Would you recommend getting certified in the most recent software, which is the CC? I use CS5 now, but do I need to get CC in order to study for the exam?


Jamie August 3, 2015 |

Hi Rob,

I took the test to challenge myself and learn new things about the software after years of use. At the time I was using CS6, so it made sense to me to test for CS6. I plan on upgrading to CC, but have no plans to certify in CC. It is hard for me to advise you on this personal choice. If I were going to certify in CC, I would want to own a copy in order to become familiar with it before testing.



Madelyn September 7, 2015 |

Hi Jamie,

Thank you for sharing your experience. It is actually very encouraging for me to hear. I am also considering taking the ACE Exam to give me an edge in starting my graphic design career. The exam requirements I found in says I am required to have two years of experience in an art related field? Does that mean that taking and passing the exam won’t necessarily make me an Adobe Certified Expert? If I pass the test but don’t have the two years experience requirement, will I have taken the test in vein? I would really appreciate your advice. Thank you in advance.

Jamie September 8, 2015 |

Hi Madelyn – For instance, on the CS6 prep guide it says: “A typical candidate would have a minimum of 3 years’ experience using Adobe Photoshop in a digital imaging/design environment.” This is a recommendation, not a requirement. If you pass the test, you will be a certified expert. Good luck!

Madelyn September 9, 2015 |

Thank you so much Jamie! You have no idea how much i appreciate your response. I am even more encouraged to do my best! Thank you!


Ella March 22, 2016 |

im soon to take the exam too. and wondering if i need to study both for windows or for mac for the ace using i need to study for windows too?

Jamie March 23, 2016 |

The shortcuts are much the same, as long as you know command=control and alt=option. The questions should be labeled with both. You can review the shortcuts at the following link:


MURAD MUSALLAM November 8, 2016 |

Hello I have inquire & want your help, about ( ace photoshop)

Which version should I study & prepared for the exam and where i can be to mode on exam

Provide me with any information as possible

thanks for your kind

Jamie November 8, 2016 |

According to: – “Starting on November 30, 2016, all CS6 exams will be retired and no longer available.”

In the future, only CC exams will be available, so you would have to certify on the CC version. For any additional info, my blog post covers my experience and the comments address many other questions that others had. Good luck.