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.