How to prepare for the Apple Device Support Exam

Headshot of Andrea Pepper, SimpleMDM writer and MacAdmin
Andrea Pepper|December 6, 2023
General IT Article background
General IT Article background

Are you considering adding a few certifications to your belt to fluff out the old resume? Well, for the inquiring MacAdmin, the best place to start is the Apple Device Support Exam. If you're gearing up to give it a go, here's a little guide to the ADS Exam so you can knock it out of the park!

What is the Apple Device Support Exam?

The Apple Device Support Exam (ADSE) is a certification Apple provides that aims to test the proficiency and knowledge base of an Apple IT help desk worker.

The Apple Device Support Exam and training tutorials are designed to examine and validate an individual's ability in troubleshooting and IT help desk support. It covers iPhone, iPad, and Mac users, managing networks, or providing technical support for Apple devices. These classes feature tutorials and in-depth GIFs as demonstrations.

The training courses are online, self-paced, and free to access. The ADSE certification is a two-hour online (virtually) proctored exam by Pearson Vue, costing $149 per examination.

Additional Apple certifications

The Apple Device Support Exam is part one of a training, testing, and certification program created exclusively by Apple for Apple IT practitioners. The Apple IT Certification badge courses are the company's exploration into proprietary educational classes and career certifications.

The Apple Device Support Exam is the first of four badge certifications Apple offers:

Completing the ADSE exam with a passing grade of 78 or higher will earn you the Apple Support Professional certification and digital badge on Credly. Passing the ADS exam is also a prerequisite to taking part two of the Apple IT Certification: the Apple Deployment and Management exam.

The Apple Device Support Exam has no prerequisites. Still, you must pass the Apple Device Support exam before taking the Apple Deployment and Management exam to earn the Apple Certified IT Professional badge.

Note: This article's exam was based on iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura.

How to prepare for the ADSE

To prepare for the Apple Device Support Exam, I plan on taking Apple's 15-hour training course for ADSE. This training course also recommends an additional 30–60 hours of hands-on preparation outside of the tutorials, so let's say… this exam is no joke.

You'll also want to review the exam's learning objectives and sample questions.

I have about ten years of hands-on Apple Device Support experience, including the title Genius and MacAdmin, and I STILL did not pass this test the first time. I'll admit I thought the prior support exams I took for my Apple Retail roles (in addition to years of hands-on device experience) would allow me to skate by on this test.

IT DID NOT. Don't be like me. This test is tricky.

According to the internet (and some current coworkers), many people don't pass this test on the first try. If that's you, no worries! You're in great company. ;)

The most obvious way to prepare for ADE is to COMPLETE THE TUTORIALS — all 15 hours.

Learning objectives 

After completing all the courses, the next step is to review the ADSE Exam Preparation Guide and the learning objectives. That list is a little overwhelming, so I've broken it into the most challenging, moderately complex, and most accessible concepts.

Challenging concepts

Resolve VPN configuration issues manually

Use and manage AirDrop

Use Universal Control with Mac and iPad

Troubleshoot printing issues

Use iOS sysdiagnose to capture detailed logs

Obtain basic macOS information using Console

Password System Settings

Explain protecting your Mac with a firewall

Recognize when it is appropriate to use Lockdown Mode and demonstrate how to exclude apps and websites from Lockdown mode

Using eSIMs and transferring to eSIM

Identify what's new in iPadOS

Recognize which iPhone hardware devices support the latest version of iOS

Troubleshoot Face ID on iPhone and iPad

Identify secure tokens and bootstrap tokens

Revive or Restore an iPhone or iPad using Apple Configurator

Recognize and use the appropriate Boot modes for a Mac for a given situation

Use Startup Security Utility to change startup security policies on a Мас

Moderate concepts

Manage network settings and service order

Recognize Messages security settings

Use Activity Monitor to identify and resolve issues

Describe and use Mac computer hardware components and features

Use and describe iPad hardware components and features

Use Quick Start for iOS and iPadOS to set up new devices

Describe the features of Digital Legacy and Legacy Contacts

Recognize the differences between a personal Apple ID and a Managed Apple ID

Recognize and manage Activation Lock features

Install, update, or upgrade macOS

Revive or Restore a Mac using Apple Configurator

Accessible concepts

Manage documents

Use and Manage Sharing preferences

Configure Sidecar to use your iPad as a display that extends or mirrors your Mac desktop

Turn on AirPlay Receiver to receive video and audio content from any nearby Mac, iPhone, or iPad on the same network.

Troubleshoot Mail and Messages

Recognize AirPrint advantages

Identify print protocols

Recognize when printing is managed in MDM configuration profiles

Describe the purpose of MDM and recognize how MDM can enhance the user experience

AppleSeed for IT

Identify what's new in macOS

Identify what's new in iOS

Troubleshoot Mac computer hardware components

Describe and use iPhone hardware components and features

Troubleshoot iPhone hardware and accessory components

Troubleshoot iPad hardware and accessory components

Set up Touch ID on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Troubleshoot Touch ID on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Describe FileVault

Enable FileVault

Use Migration Assistant to copy documents, apps, accounts, and settings to a new Mac

Recognize the capability of a personal Apple ID

Identify the features of Two-factor Authentication

Resolve Apple ID password issues

Manage User Accounts and Data Storage for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS

Install, update, or upgrade iOS and iPadOS

Use Recovery Mode to Restore iOS and iPadOS

Use macOS Recovery to resolve issues

Locate macOS default and shared folders

Recognize the different behaviors of adopted, pre-installed, and third-party apps (macOS)

Another resource I encountered while researching is these ADS Exam Flashcards. Note that you will need to create a account to access them.

Sample questions

When you are done studying and ready to test your knowledge, try your hand at a few sample questions written for the exam. As you work through it, give yourself a few hours to research the sample question concepts and definitions.

For example, you could expect to see questions framed around concepts like these:

  • Know how to put an M1 device into safe mode.

  • Know secure Wi-Fi network types that are recommended for enterprise use.

  • Understand password system settings.

  • Know how to tell if printing preferences are MDM-managed.

What to know about the exam

Exam details

  • Exam Name: Apple Device Support Exam (9L0-3023-ENU)

  • Questions: 100

  • Time Limit: 120 mins

  • Passing Score: 78%

  • Question Types: Multiple-choice, Multiple-select, Matching

  • No resources or references are allowed during the exam.

How to take the exam

Step 1: Schedule the exam

  • Review the Testing FAQs page before you start.

  • Register for the exam and schedule a testing time slot. You can choose from test times that span the whole day, so if you test better as a night owl, go for it!

 Step 2: Test your system

  • Run a system test before your exam day to ensure your mic, webcam, and required applications function as expected.

 Step 3: Prepare your space

  • Choose an enclosed testing space that's free from distractions. Aim for somewhere that's private, quiet, and well-lit.

  • Before starting your exam, clear your desk or workspace of all personal and preparatory items except those permitted by your exam program. These allowed items must be on the desk during check-in. Remember to keep your mobile phone in the room where you are taking the test but out of arm's reach.

  • The virtual proctor will ask to see all sides of your room with your webcam in addition to seeing you unplug any additional monitors.

Step 4: Grab your ID and log on early

Check the technical system minimum requirements to ensure your workspace complies and avoid delays on your test day.

What to expect

I won't lie; the exam situation is a little intimidating. There are a lot of unique rules for this kind of virtual exam:

  • You can't wear a watch during the exam.

  • You can't speak out loud during the exam.

  • Your space must be silent during the exam.

  • You can't eat or drink during the exam.

  • You can use only one screen during the exam.

  • You can't take notes on paper; you can only take notes within the virtual testing window.

  • Your phone can't be within reach during the exam.

  • You must unplug all other monitors before the exam starts.

  • A virtual proctor will monitor you over your webcam while you take the test.

  • The Vue testing software will fully lock down your computer while the test is active.

Tips for the exam

  • Prioritize the questions you know you can ace: You get only two hours to take the test. To use your time effectively, answer only the questions you are sure of the first time you click through all 100 questions. As you take the test, you'll see a "Flag for review" checkbox on each question page. The idea is to click this box for any question you don't know and return to it after you've answered the ones you know. This technique prevents you from spending too much time on unknown queries and ensures you get the highest score possible by ensuring you don't run out of time.

  • Reschedule your exam if needed: If you need to reschedule your exam, no stress! I did this several times, and it was easy. There are lots of testing slots and availability, and you can reschedule the test at any point before it starts.

Digital badge

Once you pass your exam and get the Credly badge, you can download the badge image for resumes or email signatures, link the badge to your LinkedIn profile, or embed the badge in other desired locations to show off that big brain swag.

Visit now to enhance your learning journey to become an Apple Certified IT Professional. Try a free 30-day trial and prepare to be the IT department's new whiz kid. 🧠

Headshot of Andrea Pepper, SimpleMDM writer and MacAdmin
Andrea Pepper

Andrea Pepper is an Apple SME MacAdmin with a problematic lack of impulse control around a software update prompt. When not poking at machines, Pepper enjoys being a silly goose in sunny Colorado with her two gigantic fluffer pups.

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