Crazy InDesign CS3 ACE Practice Questions
If you’re interested in becoming an ACE (Adobe Certified Expert) in InDesign, you should know that the CS3 exam was released a few weeks ago. Those of us who are InDesign CS2 ACEs have until April 30, 2008 to take and pass the CS3 recertification exam.
If the practice test questions in the Prep Guide are any indication, the exam has taken a turn for the worse in regards to clarity and accuracy.
I wrote about the InDesign ACE program at length in a post last year, so I won’t rehash the details. In case some of the links have died, here is Adobe’s current Get Certified home page and the page listing their downloadable Prep Guides for each test. You can cut to the chase and download the ID CS3 Certification Prep Guide (PDF, 185 K) directly if you’d like to follow along with my rant below.
More Head Scratchers Than Ever
Like all the Adobe Certification Prep Guides, the last few pages include sample multiple choice questions that are similar to those you’ll encounter in the test. Each question is followed by what Adobe considers the correct answer … a feature not found on the actual exam. ;-)
In previous Prep Guides, there has always been one or two weirdo questions that don’t seem to make sense. In the CS3 one, to my mind at least half of them are incomprehensible, inaccurate or unnecessarily obtuse. For the life of me I cannot understand how Adobe can release these Practice Tests to the general public in their current state. Do they want to scare everyone away?
I don’t know, maybe I’m coming down to hard on them. You tell me. I’ll dissect a couple sample questions below (in bold), both of which coincidentally come from the “Converting Files” topic area.
A QuarkXPress 4.0 document contains embedded images, which were created in Quark XTension. You want to open the QuarkXPress 4.0 file in InDesign. What should you do?
Let’s see. The QuarkXPress layout was created in “Quark XTension”? Is that a new program? Or were the embedded images themselves created in XTension (maybe it’s an image editing program?).
I hate how we have to translate the questions to make sense of them. After some thought I conclude that the question is saying that the images got embedded using a feature in [a QuarkXPress] XTension, like an InDesign plug-in. I don’t know what one thing (embedded images) has to do with the other (Quark XTensions). But there you go.
So, in answer to the question, “What should you do?” what came to mind was, “Try to open it.” Because that’s what the Help file says to do — embedded images (actually, pasted-in pictures) will not come through, but so what, the file opens in InDesign anyway. The question isn’t asking how to convert the file to InDesign while maintaining the embedded images. It just says you want to open it.
Of course “give it a shot” isn’t one of the choices. Instead we must choose from these:
A. Remove the images that were created in Quark XTension.
B. Convert the embedded images to linked images.
C. Copy the Quark XTension plug-in to the InDesign plug-ins folder.
D. Save the QuarkXPress 4.0 file in the QuarkXPress 3.0 format.
Okay, so from the answers we can now suss out that the question doesn’t tell the whole story. Instead, either the file won’t open in InDesign as is, or it will open, but we’re trying to maintain the images. The question is asking how do we do one of these.
For either scenario, I can quickly eliminate C (won’t work) and D (doesn’t make a difference). Answer “A” is too vague … remove them from where? The InDesign file? The QuarkXPress file? … and sounds like a last resort.
Especially since there’s answer “B” (turn the embedded images into linked ones). You can do this in QuarkXPress … well, v7 at least, v4 is long gone from my computer … so I went with it.
But nope, the answer is “A. Remove the images that were created in Quark XTension.”
Argh. Okay, so I guessed wrong, and the real scenario was that the QXP layout file wouldn’t open in InDesign, period. But why make us guess at all?
Further, I have no idea if a QXP v4 XTension ever existed that embedded images, but even if there was (as the question proposes) who’s to say that the same XTension is required to open or print the file, and thus is the cause of the conversion error? Maybe it has nothing to do with the XTension.
Turns out that the question is jamming a whole bunch of scenarios from the InDesign CS3 Help file into one fuzzy situation. Here’s the relevant paragraph from Help about converting QuarkXPress v3 and v4 files:
Note: Embedded graphics?those added to the original document using the Paste command?are not converted. For more information on embedded graphics, see About links and embedded graphics. Tip: InDesign does not support OLE or Quark XTensions. Consequently, when you open files that contain OLE or Quark XTensions graphics, those graphics will not appear in the InDesign document. If your QuarkXPress document does not convert, check the original and remove any objects that were created by an XTension; then save, and try to convert again.
The question writer combined two separate issues — embedded pictures and “Quark XTension graphics” (what are those anyway?) — into one question. Unsuccessfully.
Fun, huh? Here’s another one:
You open a PageMaker file in InDesign. The file contains images, tables, charts, and text created by using paragraph composer. Which element remains unchanged in InDesign?
Interesting! I did not know that PageMaker has the Paragraph Composer. (That was sarcastic — it doesn’t.)
The question writer is trying to say “the text automatically uses InDesign’s Paragraph Composer engine after the PageMaker file is opened in InDesign.” Why not just end the second sentence after “and text”? Because he’s trying to include a hint that the line breaks will be different after opening the file in InDesign, due to the Paragraph Composer taking over. This is something any InDesign ACE should know without being told, in my opinion.
So, without looking at the answers, which “element” (should be “elements” — all the choices in the question are plural) remains unchanged in the InDesign file after converting?
My first thought would be “images.” Converting a file doesn’t change the images. Ah, but “images” isn’t one of the possible answers!
A. Drop shadow
B. Hyphenated text
C. Text links
D. Text flow
Let’s see … we know that hyphenation will change, and if we successfully translated the question, we know that text flow will change, due to the Paragraph Composer. Text links? I remembered that you could export PageMaker files to HTML but didn’t recall if you could turn text selections into hyperlinks. Drop Shadow? Did PageMaker have a Drop Shadow feature? I’m positive it didn’t, at least in the last version I used, version 6. Hmmm.
I’m flummoxed, how about you?
The answer is “C. Text Links.”
The Practice Test doesn’t explain the reasoning behind the correct answers, so it’s back to the InDesign Help file for a search on “PageMaker.” And from the Help page I eventually figured out that by “Text Links” they mean linked text files (!): “Text and graphics links are preserved and appear in the Links panel.”
Of course, how stupid of me, PageMaker layouts with links to external text files. That’s what I immediately think of when I hear “text links,” don’t you?
(I also learned in the Help file that by “Drop Shadow” they probably mean “Shadow text” … text with the Shadow style applied. Why does the answer choice say “Drop Shadow” when even the Help file calls it “Shadow text”?)
Both of these examples coincidentally had to do with converting files to InDesign. I could go on and list other teeth-gnashers in the Practice Test that are on other topics — the one about Tables is especially aggravating — but this article is going on too long. I would love to hear your own thoughts.
What’s the Deal?
It’s embarrassing to me that Adobe’s public preview of the ACE test contains these. Have they really been vetted by a product expert, or even a copy editor? Or is there a method to their madness, like some kind of Fight Club thing, testing more than product knowledge, more of a psychological stress test?
Most of all, I’m disappointed. This issue with the ACE exams has been brought up many times before, but from this latest ID CS3 Practice Test, it doesn’t appear anyone is listening. Users put in weeks of study and prep time, pony up $150 to take the test, get stressed out enough just to be in proctored situation under a time limit, and to present them with questions like these … well, it is simply unfair.
Anyway … as I said in my previous article about the ACE exams, you are forewarned. And, be sure to actually read the Help file, through-and-through, at least once before going in for the test! At least then you’ll have some sort of compass, an idea of what they could possibly be referring to, when you encounter the occasional twisted, nonsensical dead-end question in the exam.