In Japan, there are quite a few qualifications that you can take relating to graphic design. A famous example is the 色彩検定 shikisai-kentei (Colour Co-ordination Test) with it’s various degrees of difficulty. However, it can be a little intimidating at first, so I decided to try the “Photoshop Creator Skills Qualification Test”, also known as フォトショップクリエイター能力認定試験 Photoshop creator noryoku-nintei-shiken in Japanese, to help hone my skills with the software and fill in any gaps in my knowledge.
In this article, I am going to introduce my study methods and how I prepared for the exam.
About the Exam
For the exam, there are two levels: Standard and Expert.
Standard is set at a level where the person can carry out basic tasks within Photoshop according to set instructions.
Expert is a fair bit broader, with someone passing this level being able to create works according to a clients’ needs, based on a design brief. In addition, they will need to know the fundamentals of desktop publishing and web design.
Below is a table showing the differences in length for the two levels.
|Section 1||Section 2|
|Expert||50 mins||90 mins|
|Standard||40 mins||90 mins|
Since I have been using Photoshop almost daily for work, I have been able to get used to where everything is and the basic features, however I definitely noticed that there were some places where I would get stumped and have to resort to looking up a tutorial on how to do certain things. Taking a practice test for the Standard level, I was able to finish with plenty of time to spare, so after looking at the requirements, I put in an application to take Expert!
To pass, you will need to satisfy the following.
|Expert||Must achieve over 65% for both the technical and practical questions,|
and over 70% for the practical test.
|Standard||Must achieve over 65% for the practical questions,|
in addition to over 70% for the practical test.
In addition, you will have to pay a fee: ¥7,537 for Standard and ¥8,556 for Expert (as of 2019). You can find more information about the exam on the page here.
Studying for the Exam
There are two main methods to prepare for the exam – self-study or attending a course. Working full-time doesn’t allow me to make time to attend a school, and besides, using Photoshop at work I can practice using my newly learned skills I studied at home to help increase my efficiency at the same time too, so I chose to go the self-study route.
First of all, it’s best to purchase the official textbook, which includes multiple practice exams for both levels – using this you can firstly gauge which level is attainable for you, and secondly, it allows you to get used to the format of the exam and helps to make sure you can finish the tasks given to you within the allotted time.
Inside, are instructions on how to download the test materials. Solutions for each practice test, in addition to what you will need to know for the technical questions for Expert, are included. A study time of 20 hours for Standard plus a further 18 hours for Expert is suggested, however this may be significantly less if you are not completely new to Photoshop.
How to Apply
Test centres can be found all over Japan – just take a look at the search page to find the one closest to you. Unlike other tests, this can be taken at pretty much any time due to it being carried out digitally. So I suggest you find out how much you need to study, then book a test a couple of weeks ahead to give yourself something to work towards.
In my case, once I applied for the test, I received an email asking me to send a bank transfer for the fees the next day. After that, just make sure you’re ready by getting as much practice as you can before the real thing!