A few weeks ago I attended a course in Adobe Photoshop in an effort to achieve ACA accreditation. I was really looking forward to it because throughout 2011, I had already achieved accreditation from Google for AdWords and Hootsuite so to achieve a certificate from Adobe would rank highly along side them and display my breadth of knowledge for all things digital.
The course was great and although I’ve been using Photoshop for a number of years, there’s always some functions that I’ve never really understood and many intricacies that I may have taken for granted.
The greatest tips and advice are normally the simplest. For example, I never knew you could rotate the crop tool in Photoshop. A lot of you are probably sitting there thinking that is a simple task, but if you don’t know, you’d never know. Simple tips like this are worth their weight in gold in improving your workflow and time management.
The course was expertly delivered by Xchange Training in Farringdon and I would recommend their tuition, facilities and location to anyone planning to complete an ACA in any platform.
But, and there is a but.
After spending four and a half days learning Photoshop CS5 on an iMac and actually growing in confidence every day, the time for the exam finally arrived. I was really confident, I’d been using Photoshop for years and was sure I could nail everything in the exam.
The exam itself has a dual format.
- Multiple choice questions
Every one who’s watched Who wants to be a millionaire has answered a multiple choice question before so that was fine.
The simulations consisted of an instruction within Photoshop like: change the image to black and white.
But what if I tell you that after a week of learning to use Photoshop CS5, the actual exam runs in a poorly developed Flash application made to look like Photoshop CS5.
- You can’t use keyboard shortcuts – you can forget zooming in with Cmd +
- You can’t use right clicks – hey, it’s Flash, remember?
- The mouse cursor is constantly disappearing – how can you use Photoshop if you can’t see your mouse cursor?
So after a week of honing your keyboard shortcuts in order to speed up Photoshop, you now have to pass an exam by using the most time consuming techniques possible!
But wait, there’s more.
I did a practice exam before the real exam. The difference was that you could view the answer if necessary. On one question, I was really stumped, so I hit the little answer button to be informed that I should use the ‘right click’ function. Erm, hold on, this is Flash, I can’t right click!
So even the answers in the test exam were incorrect, well they were correct in the real world, but not in this Flash based exam hell that I’d found myself in.
The final nail in the coffin was in the actual exam itself. I could mark questions to be revisited later and cycle through to next and previous questions but as I revisited questions that I’d marked for review, I hit the next button expecting to see a question I had already previously answered only to find it unanswered.
I’ve already answered this, how can I be sure that the rest of my answers have saved in the system? I couldn’t.
Luckily I passed the exam with 72%. But by then, the ordeal had been more about how to actually function a flawed system rather than show my knowledge of Photoshop.
Hopefully this has highlighted the perils of the ACA before you book yourself on. I’m glad I’ve got the ACA but I didn’t know the exam would be so hard, for all the wrong reasons.