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How does ASQ determine Exam Cutoff Marks


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I understand that not all sections/exams of ASQ are open book. and was wondering if there would be difference in determining the cut off marks for exam.s (viz., CSSBB is open book, and ither there are other exams for which certain sections are closed book type)

further, why does ASQ insist on retaining the scrap-papers, rough papers ? and also heard that they can give grace marks for good rough work!!!?
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ASQ has a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on their scoreing of exams
as well as more detailed info in how they establish their cut score for each sitting of each exam.
In short they have some questions carry over from exam to exam and use them to correct the pass score between exams based upon difficulty.

On your other questions, I believe all the exams are open book, with the exception of the CMQ-OE which includes a closed book essay portion (the multiple choice portion is open book).

I assume they collect scrap paper, etc to prevent people from copying down all their questions, since a portion of them are recycled from exam to exam. I'd be astonished if they give any credit for anything not put on the scan-tron answer sheet. They do provide a separate sheet to record issues with questions although I'm not sure how they use it and wether they would throw out a question if they received enough complaints about it.


Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Re: How does ASQ determine the exam cutoff marks

It has been awhile since I was a member of the editing board for Certified Mechanical Inspector, but I can offer the following:

- They try hard to make their exams balanced by crunching data on how many people answered correctly or incorrectly. Questions with results both very high and very low get discarded in favor of those closer to the center of the bell curve.

- Only the exams themselves figure into the score. Nothing on the notes are included in consideration. It is true that ASQ is interested in retaining scrap notes; they consider it information security.

- I do not know why the CMQ-OE includes essay questions, but as an ex-educator I approve of this means to assess comprehension beyond the ability to select the correct answer out of a series of choices. I also do not know how much weight those portions carry in the overall score.

- I can't say why there were three questions involving confidence interval of the mean, but it's possible the editors allowed it knowing that to be the case. The editors work with a set of previous questions that can be used for two cycles, and some that are written to replace others dropped after being used twice before. It's possible there were five questions added about confidence interval of the mean but only three were allowed to remain this time.

- The CSSBB is a technically-oriented discipline that could be considered on the same level as CQE, so I am not surprised at the similar level of difficulty.

I won't be taking the CQE or CSSBB again, or even the CQA for that matter. Now that I have to maintain CPEA I don't have the mental bandwidth to do more than go in every three years and retake the CMQ-OE.

Lastly, in the many times I've taken these various exams the ASQ handbook on the subject was the best single resource for learning the subject and and on exam day. When taking the CSSBB my other sources, including the one on 6S statistics and the Pocket Guides, were of no use at all. I don't know whether they intended it that way, but I do remember that as exam editors we were required to look up the answers like exam takers would, and they were most often available in those handbooks.
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