How to pass the ACE Exam for After Effects CC

How to pass the ACE Exam for After Effects CC

Salutations! I just passed the Adobe Certified Expert for After Effects CC recently and now I am going to share with you my experience, resources and study tips I used in passing the exam.

If you are considering taking the Photoshop ACE exam, do check out my guide on how to pass the ACE Exam for Photoshop!

My Experience with the ACE Exam for After Effects

Out of all Adobe products, After Effects has always been my best, my forte, my schtick. I know everything like the back of my hand. I have been using it for 5 years and studied thoroughly for a week.

So how did I fare against the ACE exam?

Terrible! I barely passed.

There I was, locked alone in a cold silent room filled with computers, there I had an intense 90 minutes battle with the exam’s 50 multiple choice questions. I found it awfully challenging. Much of the questions are very technical like what does this shortcut do, or why use this command, how can achieve this by using what command.  Some questions were easy, some questions was ridiculously hard. I had a lot of situations where I have 2 similar answers to choose from. Compared to the ACE exam for Photoshop which was a walk in the park, this was tough on a new level.

But honestly, this attempt at this exam was actually an experiment. I want to see how well can I score just by reading up on the Adobe Classroom in a Book series and the Adobe After Effects Help Page. This is just something I like to share.

Below, I elaborated further on each resource I used.

Preparation Resources

Adobe Exam Guide


The Exam Guide covers the topics tested and has 10 sample questions for you to try.

How to use this resource

All I can say is that follow the exam topics tested exactly! Based on my exam, I found that no questions were out of the topics, so if you follow the topics for your preparations, you are on a right track. Use it closely with Adobe After Effects Help Page & PDF and study what is needed.

Adobe After Effects CC Classroom in a Book


This book is from the Adobe official training series and I read it from the start till the end. In my opinion, this book is meant for utter beginners. Period. Honestly, look elsewhere if you are trying to use this book to study for the exam!

The book does not explain much about the steps and processes they take. It just tells you to do this, do that repetitively.  The “Extra Credits” pages are quite helpful sometimes, I repeat, sometimes. The worst part is during the explanation, the book asks you to go refer to another resource for more information. The book could have at least briefly explain concepts behind the steps they take to produce an animation or a video.

How to use this resource

Don’t! (I mean you could try, but I would not recommend it)

Adobe After Effects Help Page & PDF


This is will be your Bible for studying. The materials here are extremely extensive. It goes without saying that everything is explained. But getting through it is another question.

How to use this resource

a)      Get it out into a hardcopy

It would really help a lot if you print the whole file or read on an e-reader like Kindle. Reading it on your computer screen is a slow and painful process, and it damages your eyes on the long run. I started reading on my desktop but got quite restless and decided to print the whole 750 pages of the PDF file. In hindsight, it was a good decision. My comprehension and reading speed was better when presented with a hardcopy.

b)      Skim first, analyse later

You are going to have a hard time if you start reading word by word for every chapter. You will get lost in sea of texts and foreign subjects, delaying your reading. I find that skimming the file to understand a brief outline of the content first helped very much when I came back to each chapter and analyse them thoroughly. I could process the words easier, and everything seems to flow.

*Check out this LifeHacker article on how skimming books helps learning.


2 studies tips from me

For me, I believe reading plays a big role in preparing for the exam. Even if you are an expert user, surely you are bound to miss out a thing or two. Hence, our comprehension of books will assist to cover these gaps. Below are some tips to make reading and learning less painful.

Change locations!

Reading up 5 chapters of the Adobe Help page in one seating or a location is a no go! You will definitely get restless and cannot absorb as much information as you want. Switching up places to study kinda “reset your brain cache” so each time you move to a new location, your mind will not be so cluttered and more lucid.

*Here is another LifeHacker article on changing up your study spaces for better recall.

Meta-guiding! (What’s that?)

Meta guiding is when you use a finger (or a pointer like a pen) to guide your eyes to specific words. The point is to decrease distraction and focus on the specific words to increase your reading speed. There are countless of paragraphs you will read as you prepare for the exam, your eye movement is bound to go haywire as you scanned the pages. The solution is to use your finger or a pen to guide your eyes on where to read, that way, you will never lose track of your reading.

*Here is yet another LifeHacker Article on Speed-reading!

That is all I have for this post. Thank you very much for reading!

If you enjoyed it and found it helpful, share with your friends! Like it Facebook! Twit it or something, I don’t know, just do something. I jest.

Anyway, leave a comment if you think this post can be better, I welcome all suggestions.

Until my next blogpost,

Live Long & Prosper~

Desmond Du

Desmond Du is a Singaporean pursuing a B.F.A in Motion Media Design at SCAD Savannah. He enjoys sharing knowledge with everyone and helping people to do their best in whatever work they are doing. He is also looking for content creators to collaborate with or share their content on

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