Independence of ACEDS

Is ACEDS or the CEDS certification affiliated with, or controlled by, any vendor, software manufacturer, consulting firm or law firm?

No, ACEDS is fully independent and self-funded. It is operated by professionals with great experience in running 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.

Focus, Content and Standards of the CEDS Examination

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

Once the application is submitted please allow two to three weeks for a response.

2. What is the focus of the CEDS exam?

The CEDS examination is not a test of knowledge of any product, training course or software. It is the first independent e-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.

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

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 new standard for “assessment-based certificate programs,” distinguishing them from professional certifications like 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.

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

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 identified and helped fashion the 15 major areas on which the examination focuses.

5. What subjects does the CEDS certification exam cover?

The exam tests a candidate’s knowledge in following 15 major areas, which serve as the basis for competency assessment:
  • Information Management and Litigation Readiness
  • Ethics
  • Budgeting
  • Project Planning
  • Litigation Hold Implementation
  • Collection Planning and Implementation
  • Data Processing
  • Data Culling
  • Document Review
  • Review Planning
  • Data Production
  • Project Management
  • Legal Framework and Obligation
  • International Discovery
  • Technology

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

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.

7. What type of questions does the examination ask?

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

8. Where do CEDS candidates take the certification exam?

The computer-based, proctored examination is available year-round at 560 ACEDS-Kryterion Testing Centers worldwide, including more than 300 in the United States and 30 in Canada. They are listed at ACEDS.org/certification. The exam is computer-based so the results are provided to the candidate promptly at the end of the exam.

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

9. What security procedures does ACEDS follow to assure the integrity of the examination and the persons who take it?

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.

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

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 not a guarantee of a passing grade. Candidates should study other pertinent materials to more fully prepare. On average, CEDS candidates tell us they generally study some 20 to 30 hours.

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

Yes. The online seminar is offered on demand at ACEDS.org for an additional charge. In mid-2011, ACEDS will offer full-day Exam Preparation Seminars at cities around the United States. Late in 2011, the live Exam Preparation Seminar will be offered in Canada. Please visit ACEDS.org for information and updates on these learning and exam preparation events.

12. Will you be providing practice or sample questions?

ACEDS includes sample questions in the online and live CEDS Exam Preparation Seminars.

Recertification and Renewal

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

The CEDS certification expires after two years. 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 at ACEDS.org, has complete information about certification eligibility, renewal and other requirements.

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

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 $150 as the recertification fee; nonmembers pay $250; government employees pay $100. 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.

Passing Grade and Rate

16. What is the passing score on the exam?

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

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

Presently, about 76% of the persons who sit for the exam pass.

18. 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?

The grade is for the overall exam. The grading is not based on the number of correct answers in any section of the exam.

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

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

Examination Fees, Group Rates and Government Discounts

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

The CEDS examination fee ( which includes annual membership and the exam prep course) is $1495, and $1255 for persons in any government or military agency or academic institution.  The fee also includes an extensive CEDS Exam Preparation Manual in electronic format and admission to one of 664 ACEDS-Kryterion Testing Centers worldwide. (366 in US, 298 International, including Canada)

21. Are there discounts for multiple CEDS testers from one organization?

Yes. ACEDS offers substantial savings to private and public sector 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 or to become ACEDS members.

22. Are there discounts for government employees?

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

23. What is the fee to retake the examination if one does not pass it?

The cost to retake the examination is $100.

Job and Career Value of CEDS Certification

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

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. ACEDS believes that professionals who earn the CEDS credential gain significant short term and long term job and career benefits, such as the following.
  • You increase your career options across industries, professions.
  • You elevate your standing in the e-discovery field.
  • You increase your credibility in court.
  • Your competitors are becoming CEDS-certified.
  • You help establish yourself as an expert witness.
  • You qualify more easily as an expert witness.
  • You increase your appeal as a consultant.
  • You become more valuable to law firms.
  • You justify an increase in your billing rate.
  • You strengthen your case for a salary increase.
  • You improve your chances of getting better bonuses, perks.
  • You increase your career earnings.
  • You become more valuable to corporations.
  • You become more valuable to educational institutions.
  • You become more valuable to non-profit organizations.
  • You become more valuable to technology companies, firms.
  • You become more valuable to legal staffing firms.
  • You validate your skills to clients, co-workers and superiors.
  • You become more valuable to legal process outsourcing firms.
  • You become more valuable to litigation support departments.
  • You increase your chance of landing a good government job.
  • You open new career paths outside the United States.
  • You help make our justice system more accessible, efficient, and economical.

25. What are some practical applications of the knowledge gained from certification?

By preparing for the examination, including studying the CEDS Exam Preparation Manual that you receive upon application, you will also learn best practices that you can apply in your work, which will assist you in reducing risks and costs. CEDS-certified professionals have told us they were helped in their job by reading the CEDS Manual.

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

The CEDS certification is an invaluable career credential. You can do a number of things to further it, including posts and online profiles on social media sites, internal and external announcements and press releases from your organization acknowledging your credential, reference to your CEDS credential on your resume, references in your biographical sketch and business cards.

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

No. Persons from all parts of the United States and three other countries, Canada, United Kingdom and Taiwan, have qualified to take the exam and have passed it since the exam was released in November 2010.

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

ACEDS is now posting to its website ACEDS Forum information to connect CEDS candidates with CEDS-certified professionals.

Industry Acceptance and Outreach

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

ACEDS has been well received by professionals from all occupations in e-discovery , including lawyers from AmLaw 250 and smaller law firms, Fortune 500 and smaller corporations, financial institutions, government agencies, insurance companies, litigation support and IT professionals, records managers, paralegals, legal staffing firms, technology companies, consultants and others. ACEDS has signed an “Alliance Partnership,” with the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) and Affinity Agreements with ARMA and Women in E-Discovery. Others are now being explored and will be announced in due time.

30. Has CEDS certification been approved by bar associations?

ACEDS is in contact with bar associations to explore ways of promoting their uniform goal of furthering lawyer competence through the standardized ACEDS certification process.

31. How much will the CEDS resonate with the e-discovery community five years from now?

No one can say how it will resonate in five years, but the high standards of integrity, professionalism and psychometric principles of the exam bode well for wide acceptance. The CEDS certification is based on an independent, legally defensible, multidisciplinary examination.

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

In August 2011, ACEDS announced that it had entered into a landmark educational and career-advancing partnership with Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies Center for Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE) to provide students of CCPE’s Certificate in Litigation Technology and Legal Project Management access to CEDS certification and e-discovery training at favored prices. Students who successfully complete the Georgetown University Certificate in Litigation Technology and Legal Project Management program will be eligible to apply for the certification examination leading to the Certified E-Discovery Specialist certification and will receive one year of professional membership in ACEDS, as part of their enrollment in the program.
ACEDS is discussing similar arrangements with other colleges and universities that have expressed an interest in furthering the education and careers of their students in like fashion. ACEDS considers it its mission to foster outreach programs with undergraduate and post-graduate programs and law schools. ACEDS management has substantial experience in working with institutions of higher learning in certification programs and in developing curricula in specialized areas. ACEDS welcomes inquiries from colleges and universities that wish to explore collaboration.

ACEDS structure, management and staff

33. How do I know the ACEDS certification program is constructed by professionals who know what they’re doing?

The ACEDS professional staff has 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).

34. What is the purpose of ACEDS?

ACEDS is a membership association committed to enhancing the capabilities, recognition, job performance, careers, and networks of its members in the e-discovery field worldwide.

35. Are there other associations that have the same business model as ACEDS?

Yes, many. For example, the ACEDS model is the same as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), which awards the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certification, and ACAMS, which awards the Certified Anti-Money Laundering (CAMS) certification. To earn those credentials, candidates must pass an examination and meet certain eligibility requirements.
Both are private, independent associations with large numbers of members worldwide who work at big and small corporations, government agencies, law, accounting and other professional firms and international organizations. The associations are privately funded and sustained by their certification, training, subscription revenue. Their members include the employees of some of the largest organizations in the world, including civilian and military US and other nations’ government agencies. ACEDS follows this model.

36. What is ACEDS non-discrimination policy?

This policy states the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) position on discrimination. This policy applies to all Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) employees, volunteers, members, clients, and contractors.
Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (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.

More Frequently Asked Questions:

Does ACEDS have a Financial Hardship Policy?

Yes. ACEDS hopes to help make our products more available to those who couldn’t otherwise participate in the unique opportunities we have to offer due to financial challenges.
ACEDS Financial Hardship Policy:
For those who wish to attend an ACEDS event or purchase an ACEDS product, but are having financial hardships, we offer relief in the form of scholarships. A scholarship pool is set by November 1st of each year for the following year. The pool for 2012 is $2,000. All requests must be submitted by November 20th of the year prior to use. Scholarship recipients will be selected by the Advisory Board no later than January 1st of the applicable year.In order to apply, please submit a one page letter with the following:

  • Address the letter to the standing chair of our advisory board
  • Explain how the product you are applying for will advance you professionally
  • Explain why you are the ideal candidate for the scholarship

Description of determining criteria for the selection of a recipient:

  • Letter addressed to our advisory board
  • Unemployed – Full scholarship
  • Income up to $35,000 – 75% discount
  • Income $35,000 to $50,000 – 50% discount
  • Income above $50,000 – No discount

What is the cancellation policy for the ACEDS Conference?

Cancellation refund 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.

Does ACEDS have a Cancellation Policy for Seminars?

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. 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 or, at the option of the registrant, apply to another event or product.

Does ACEDS have a Cancellation Policy for Webinars or Live Chats?

No. At this time, our Web Seminars and Live Chat Sessions are complimentary.

What is your Refund Policy for ACEDS products?

ACEDS Membership Cancellation

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 date of purchase. A $195 administrative fee will be applied for the CEDS examination cancellation. CEDS Certification is non-refundable after 30 days.

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

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 786.517.2701.