I took an ACA – Prep Talk

If you’re reading this you’re probably asking “What is an ACA? ACA stands for Adobe Certified Associate. As you may already know, adobe has many software applications from Photoshop to Muse, inDesign and much more. To receive an ACA for a software, you must take a test. In this blog i’ll talk about my ACA experience and the benefits of attempting to earn one.

As of now, adobe offer’s ACA’s for : Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Premiere, inDesign and flash. If you take a look at adobe’s website you can see the topics each exam will expect you to know. If you’re a student like me, you might have the opportunity to take these exams for free (included in your tuition cost) which is super helpful. I took advantage of that and started taking all the exams after learning the software.

The benefits of an ACA exam is big. It helps you stand out, and shows you actually are proficient in a software which some jobs require. The best thing you can do as a designer, or even in any field you are in, is to maximize yourself as much as possible obtaining multiple skills and making yourself pop out.

The first ACA I earned was Visual Communication Using Adobe Photoshop. I was super nervous, but on my first attempt I passed. Everyone’s different, but for me watching videos on lynda.com and doing my own work was my way of studying for this exam. There’s so many books and websites out there, you first have to find out the way you learn the best. Lynda has so many helpful videos to learn Photoshop it’s insane. If you want to be proficient in a software, USE the software. I’ve seen people read the photoshop books alone and wonder why they failed the exam.


Below is the certificate you will receive for passing Photoshop’s exam. Not only do you get this certificate that you can hang somewhere, they also provide you with a badge that you can place on your website or resume.


The next ACA exam I earned was Graphic Design & illustration Using Adobe Illustrator. I decided to stick to my normal methods of video and playing around in the real software. But this time around I added gmetrix.com. This website feels and acts like the real exam. I was introduced to the types of questions that will be asked as well as how Adobe wants me to answer the question.  Just like photoshop, you also get a cool graphic for passing Illustrator.


Once I saw that I passed two ACA exams, a new goal sparked inside of me. I plan on getting every ACA that adobe offers, even if I don’t care too much about that software. Let’s be honest we all have our preferences, and mine are Photoshop and Illustrator. But like I said earlier, you should always strive to gain more skills and knowledge than the next candidate.

My next ACA I earned was Print and Digital Media Publication Using Adobe InDesign. I’m not a big fan of InDesign but when needed I know I can use it to get the job done. Lynda actually has a video for InDesign that’s specifically for ACA preparation. When I went in for this exam I thought I was going to fail it when the opposite happened. I scored the highest in InDesign over my two favorite software programs! Just like all the rest, you get your badge and certification.


If you wind up getting all three Cert’s in Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator you actually get another certification called Visual Design Specialist. This is basically a certification for getting those three ACA’s.

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So far those are the only three ACA’s I’ve been able to take. I plan on taking Premiere, Dreamweaver and any other ACA they create. My advice is to take all of them and to not give up even if you fail. You can always retest and no one will know you failed 50 times before getting it. Get yourself a lynda account and get Adobe’s creative cloud suite with all of the softwares at one monthly price. Practice doing your own work everyday to get super familiar with where the buttons are and all of the software’s panels. Another website that my classmates found helpful was acatestprep.com. The owner of this website actually spoke to Adobe and created lesson plans that revolve around the questions Adobe sent them. If you’re tight with money (because these things do cost) a more cost free way to study this is Youtube. You’d be surprised at the amount of free videos posted on Youtube that are deeply explained and useful. Go on adobe’s website to view objectives of each ACA and gear your studying towards that. Good luck, and remember to not give up, even if you failed your first attempt.


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