Q. Is ACEDS or the CEDS certification affiliated with, or controlled by, any service provider, software manufacturer, consulting firm or law firm?

A. No, ACEDS is a fully independent organization that is owned and operated by BARBRI, the leader in legal education. It is led by professionals with experience managing certification and training programs, and member associations. ACEDS is strictly vendor-neutral and unaffiliated with any product, software, law firm, consulting firm or government agency.

Q. How long does it take to process the CEDS Certification Application?

A. Once the application is submitted, please allow two to three weeks for a response. You must complete and submit the CEDS application showing your experience, work history and training within 90 days of passing the CEDS exam.

Q. What is the focus of the CEDS exam?

A. The CEDS examination is not a test of knowledge of any product, training course or software. It is the first independente-discovery certification program. The exam adheres to strict psychometric competency principles to assure that it is a legally defensible, fair, unambiguous test of knowledge and skill. A leading psychometric testing firm,Kryterion, advises ACEDS to assure testing soundness and security. The CEDS certification exam focuses on 15 e-discovery fields as selected by a global taskforce of practicing e-discovery experts and validated by an ACEDS-sponsored survey. For a list of exam topics, refer to What the Exam is About.

Q. Does ACEDS follow objective standards in its certification examination and program?

A. ACEDS follows the standards of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). In September 2008, the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA), now known as ICE, published a standard for “assessment-based certificate programs,” distinguishing them from professional certifications like the one ACEDS awards.

According to this ICE standard, a certificate program is an education or training program that provides specific course instruction and awards a certificate to those who take and pass the specific course of instruction.

In contrast, a professional certification program, like ACEDS offers, is a competency assessment based on industry knowledge and practices and is fully independent of training courses and course providers. This certification is granted only to those who meet the assessment standards. The CEDS exam meets these certification standards.

Q. How does ACEDS determine the areas that are covered in the certification exam?

A. The experts who participated in the long process of constructing the examination identified and made an extensive analysis of the job tasks that are performed by the various e-discovery disciplines. That work was supplemented by the results of a global field survey that ACEDS conducted. This process helped fashion the 15 major areas on which the examination focuses.

Q. What subjects does the CEDS certification exam cover?

A. The exam tests a candidate’s knowledge in 15 major areas, which serve as the basis for competency assessment. These are:

Q. What plans does ACEDS have for incorporating international issues and standards into CEDS certification?

A. The CEDS certification exam includes questions on international and cross-border issues that e-discovery practitioners face. The exam is not United States-centric, although the principles and rules that govern United States practices are treated extensively.

Q. What type of questions does the examination ask?

A. The exam consists of four-choice, multiple-choice, application-based “items” based on scenarios related to e-discovery processes.

Q. Where do CEDS candidates take the certification exam?

A. The computer-based, proctored examination is available year-round at any one of more than 600 ACEDS-Kryterion testing center locations worldwide. They are listed at www.kryteriononline.com/host_locations/. The exam is computer-based so the results are provided to the candidate immediately upon the completion of the exam.

CEDS candidates receive a CEDS Exam Preparation Manual in PDF format, at no extra charge, when they register for the exam and pay the examination fee.

Q. What security procedures does ACEDS follow to assure the integrity of the examination?

A. The CEDS exam is offered at secure testing centers. Properly registered, eligible candidates must follow specialized security protocols of Kryterion, the testing company that advises ACEDS. The protocols include identification-verification methods, video surveillance, proctored environments, high-walled cubicles and other measures. ACEDS follows the same standards that apply in licensing examinations for Certified Public Accountants and FINRA securities dealers.

Q. How long and how much do I need to study?

A. It depends on the individual candidate. As with any examination, generally, the more you study, the better you do. Studying the CEDS Exam Preparation Manual will assist all candidates, but it does not guarantee a passing grade and does not teach to the specific scenarios addressed on the exam. Candidates should study other pertinent materials to more fully prepare, and will usually need to rely on experience gained in the field. On average, CEDS candidates tell us they generally study 20 to 30 hours.

Q. Does ACEDS offer live or online Exam Preparation Seminars?

A. Yes. The online seminar is offered on demand at ACEDS.org for an additional charge, or as part of the CEDS Certification Package. Seminars take place once per month on average, and consist of three 90-minute, live webcasts presented over three days. Seminars address the themes and subjects that candidates will see on the exam, but do not teach to the specific scenarios on which test questions are built.

Q. How often is the CEDS exam updated?

A. In 2015, ACEDS will begin work on an additional test blueprint that reflects new and emerging e-discovery standards and best practices.

Q. How often do I need to renew my CEDS certification?

A. The CEDS certification expires after two years. Certified persons must pay a recertification application fee and record appropriate continuing education credits to maintain certification. If certification lapses, a member must retake the exam to regain certified status. The CEDS Exam Candidate Handbook, which may be downloaded at no charge, has complete information about certification eligibility, recertification and other requirements. Recertification criteria can also be viewed here.

Q. Is there a requirement that I take classes and pay a fee for recertification of the CEDS credential once I obtain it?

A. Two years after a candidate earns the certification, CEDS-certified professionals must show evidence that they have earned 40 continuing education credits in the interim. ACEDS members pay $200 as the recertification fee; nonmembers pay $300; government employees pay $150. The CEDS Exam Candidate Handbook provides full details about the recertification process, including the application, a worksheet for computing continuing education credits and a checklist of the required supporting documentation.

Q. What is the passing score on the exam?

A. The passing score for the CEDS exam is about 70%.

Q. What is the percentage of people who pass the exam?

A. Presently, about 69% of the persons who sit for the exam pass.

Q. Is there a passing grade for the overall exam or do you need to obtain a passing grade on each of the e-discovery areas that are tested?

A. The grade is for the overall exam. The grading is not based on the number of correct answers in any section of the exam, but is based on a combined raw score.

Q. Is only one attempt at passing the examination allowed?

A. CEDS candidates who do not pass the exam are required to wait 60 days before they can retake it, unless a prior arrangement has been made. A reduced fee applies for retaking the exam, details of which are answered below.

Q. What is the fee to take the CEDS exam?

A. The fee for the certification package, which includes the CEDS exam, study manual, online exam preparation and annual membership to ACEDS is $1495 ($1255 for government employees and $595 for full-time students). You may pay by check payable to ACEDS, credit card, or money order.

The fee includes the CEDS Exam Preparation Manual in electronic format and admission to one of 664 ACEDS-Kryterion Testing Centers worldwide.

Q. Can the CEDS exam be purchased by itself?

A. In general, no. Persons seeking this option should contact ACEDS Member Services at customerservice@aceds.org.

Q. How do I appeal my CEDS exam result?

A. Appeals should be made in writing to ACEDS Member Services at customerservice@aceds.org with the subject line “CEDS Exam Score Appeal.” The email should thoroughly document the reason(s) for the appeal, the candidate’s score and the location of the testing facility. Appeals will be reviewed by a committee of ACEDS and Kryterion personnel and may take up to three weeks to evaluate. Failing scores will not be overturned on the grounds they are within small percentage points of passing, nor will a result be overturned due to a claim that exam content was not addressed in study materials provided by ACEDS.

Q. Does ACEDS offer preferred pricing to organizations with multiple CEDS candidates?

A. Yes. ACEDS offers substantial savings to organizations that wish to have groups of three or more earn the CEDS certification. The larger the group, the greater the discount. Similar group discounts are available to organizations seeking to attend ACEDS online or live training programs, including the ACEDS annual conference, and to become ACEDS members.

Q. Are there discounts for government employees?

A. Yes. ACEDS offers substantial examination and membership discounts to employees of all federal, state and local government agencies in all countries.

Q. What is the fee to retake the examination?

A. The cost to retake the examination is $100.

Q. What is the proposed value of CEDS certification? Why would someone get certified?

A. A CEDS-certified professional, by passing the rigorous, independent examination, earns a credential that validates knowledge and skill in e-discovery through a scientifically verifiable standard. Persons who obtain the CEDS credential join a growing community of certified professionals at some of the largest and most prestigious law firms and organizations. A 2014 study by the Cowen Group, for instance, showed that CEDS is the most widely held industry certification among litigation support managers and directors. ACEDS believes that professionals who earn the CEDS credential gain significant short- and long-term career benefits, and help their respective organizations better address the costs and risks e-discovery entails. These benefits include:


  • Elevated standing in e-discovery field by inclusion into exclusive community.
  • Ability to demonstrate competence to employers and prospective employers.
  • Ability to demonstrate competence to clients and prospective clients.
  • Ability to demonstrate competence and due diligence to courts.
  • Ability to better establish yourself as expert witness.
  • Ability to better justify increases in billing rate.
  • Ability to strengthen your case for a salary increase.
  • Ability to increase your career earnings.
  • Ability to validate skills to clients, co-workers and superiors.
  • Ability to better pursue alternative legal career.
  • Ability to help make US and global justice systems more accessible, efficient, and economical.


  • Ability to bridge language and knowledge barriers between legal and IT.
  • Ability to demonstrate to courts a commitment to e-discovery competence and due diligence.
  • Increased knowledge redundancy by training personnel across multiple departments and areas of expertise.
  • Increased exposure as e-discovery leader in thought and practice.
  • Ability to better reduce the risks associated with e-discovery by assuring employee competence and skill.
  • Ability to better control e-discovery costs by raising organizational knowledge, competence and skill.
  • Ability to better select service provider partners.
  • Ability to associate with a growing list of prestigious organizations that have certified their staffs.

Q. What can I do to further my CEDS certification?

A. The CEDS certification is a valuable career credential. You can do a number of things to further it, including adding it to your email signature and business cards; including it in online posts and profiles on social media sites, internal and external announcements and press releases from your organization acknowledging your credential; and referring to your CEDS credential on your resume and professional biography.

Q. Are only people in the United States CEDS-certified?

A. No. Persons from all parts of the United States and other countries, including Canada, England, Colombia, Switzerland, Ireland, India, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and elsewhere have qualified to take the exam and have passed it since the test was released in November 2010.

Q. Is there a mentoring program to align CEDS candidates with persons that have passed the CEDS exam?

A. ACEDS members can search for and connect with Certified E-Discovery Specialists in their geographic regions or areas of specialty through the ACEDS Member Directory.

Q. What has been the acceptance of the CEDS certification by the industry?

A. ACEDS has been well received by professionals from all occupations in e-discovery, including lawyers and litigation support professionals from a large portion of the AmLaw 200 and smaller law firms, Fortune 500 and smaller organizations, financial institutions, government agencies, including the US Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission, and staffing firms, among others. According to a 2014 survey conducted by the Cowen Group, the CEDS credential is the most widely held industry certification among litigation support managers and directors.

Q. Has CEDS certification been approved by bar associations?

A. ACEDS is in contact with bar associations to explore ways of promoting their uniform goal of furthering lawyer competence.

Q. Is ACEDS working with colleges and universities to help them develop e-discovery curricula?

A. As a BARBRI Professional Association, ACEDS has brought e-discovery training and education to colleges and universities throughout the US. In some instances, it has partnered with schools to deliver certification to persons enrolled in continuing education programs. In others, it has helped schools identify instructors to deliver the ACEDS-approved e-discovery curriculum. ACEDS has worked with a number of academic institutions, including Georgetown University, Hamline University, and Arapahoe Community College.

Q. How do I know the ACEDS certification program is constructed by qualified e-discovery professionals?

A. The founders of ACEDS have years of certification, training and member association experience. Most notably, they constructed the Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) credential in 2001 under the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS), which they founded. ACAMS now has 7,500 certified and 10,000 total members in 140 countries. The CAMS certification is the world standard bearer in the field and is held by corporate, government, regulatory, financial institution and other officials.

The CEDS certification is built along the same lines as the CAMS certification and follows the same principles of psychometric soundness, integrity and professionalism, as promulgated by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). ACEDS is owned and managed by BARBRI, a leader in legal education in the US and globally. BARBRI is known for the quality of its bar preparation materials, of which it is the leading provider.

Q. What is the purpose of ACEDS?

A. ACEDS is a membership association committed to promoting e-discovery skill and competence through training, education, and certification to organizations and individuals in order to reduce the costs and risks associated with e-discovery, realize the advantages of performing it effectively, and facilitate access to justice.

Q. What is ACEDS non-discrimination policy?

A. ACEDS follows an equal opportunity employment policy and employs personnel without regard to race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, height, weight, disability status, veteran status, military obligations, and marital status. This policy also applies to internal promotions, training, opportunities for advancement, terminations, outside vendors, members and customers, service clients, use of contractors and consultants, and dealings with the general public.

Q. Does ACEDS offer CEDS scholarships based on financial hardship?

A. Yes, in certain instances and based on circumstance. Persons wishing to apply for a scholarship should send an email to ACEDS Member Services at customerservice@aceds.org with the subject line “Scholarship.” The email should detail why the candidate is deserving of a scholarship and provide proof of unemployment or other financial hardship. Unemployed persons will be given preference. Persons with income above $50,000 annually will not be considered.

Q. What is the cancellation policy for the ACEDS Annual Conference?

A. Cancellationrefund requests must be received in writing at least 30 days prior to the first day of the conference. ACEDS will apply a $295 processing fee on all approved refund requests. Requests for refunds will not be honored less than 30 days prior to the first day of the conference. Refunds are not granted for failure to attend, late arrival, unattended events or early departure. ACEDS is not responsible for weather-related cancellations, airfare, hotel or other costs that are associated with the conference if the registrant is unable to attend.

Substitutions of registered attendees may be made at any time prior to the beginning of the event. Please note that if the transfer is made from an ACEDS member to a non-ACEDS member, you will be charged the difference in cost. If the registrant does not attend the conference and does not designate a substitute attendee prior to the event, the registrant will be responsible for the full registration fee.

Substitutions and cancellation requests may be sent to customerservice@aceds.org.

Q. Does ACEDS have a Cancellation Policy for Seminars?

A. If you are unable to attend the seminar for any reason after you have registered, you must inform us in writing at least five business days before the seminar in order to receive a full refund less a $50 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 5 days before the seminar will be billed and the payment credited toward future training programs or other ACEDS offerings. Please remember that if for any reason you cannot attend, you can substitute someone else at no additional cost.

No Shows
If you have not paid but have reserved a seat and do not attend the seminar, you will be responsible for an administrative no-show fee of $125.

Rescheduling or Cancellation
The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialist reserves the right to reschedule or cancel any event. If cancelled, all paid registrants will receive a full refund.

Q. Does ACEDS have a Cancellation Policy for Webinars?

A. No. Webinars are complimentary to all persons, unless otherwise noted.

Q. What is your Refund Policy for ACEDS products?

ACEDS Membership Cancellation
A. ACEDS dues are for annual membership and are non-refundable.

CEDS Certification Cancellation
CEDS certification exams must be taken within 1 year of date of purchase, unless otherwise stated upon purchase. Refunds may be requested up to 30 days from the date of purchase. A $195 administrative fee will be applied for the CEDS examination cancellation. CEDS Certification is non-refundable after 30 days.

Q. What can I do if I am dissatisfied with the product or service that I received?

A. Our seminars and courses are guaranteed. If you are dissatisfied with any program, please contact member services. Questions can be answered by sending an email to memberservices@aceds.org or calling 305-377-2050.