Test taking time? Passing the ASQ Certification Tests

Passing the ASQ Certification Tests ,
One method that works for me –

This is a quick blog to help all those taking the certifications exams. This is the method I have used, but to be clear, everybody has their own way of learning and remembering. Just because it works for me is no guarantee of success for you.

I have had people recommend the QCI (Quality Council of Indiana) books and practice exams, and I did try them, but I noticed that the format wasn’t what I liked to deal with, and it actually made it harder for me. :bonk:
In the end , I stopped using those resources and went back to my tried and true methods. Everyone learns differently, and format is important.

Being a Capricorn, format and structure are key to my learning ability, so I capitalized on my abilities in these areas.
I have used this very same technique to successfully pass 7 certification exams, and will be using it on my eighth exam in June.

I will lay it out in simple format here.

I buy the ASQ Handbook for the test I am going to take. I buy or use one other book that is more general in character. Lately I have been using “The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition”. This is my back up book.
That’s all The books I buy, and that’s all I bring to the test.


I print out the practice exam from the ASQ site , as well as printing out the interactive exam (using printscreen and copying the page to a Word document). This gives me about 25 more questions than the practice exam alone.

I take a yellow legal pad. At the top I write the date, and the number of attempts on the exam, (first time is 1).

Then I take the exam cold, not reading the book, not studying.
Here is an important part – If you are unsure of an answer , mark a small “G”, for “guess” after your answer.
Grade your paper, at the top mark the percentage correct.
Next to that, write the percentage that were guesses (correct or not)
Of the guesses, write the percentage correct.

Important point here- do not bring the answer sheet forward – leave it separate at the end of the test. You will forget the answers between test takes, which is what you want.

Now you have established a baseline.

Now read your book. :read:
Use a highliter to underline sentences that make important statements about the subject. :caution:
Go through the entire book.

Take the test again on the next page of the yellow pad. Record the same information.
If you learn somewhat like I do, you will notice an improvement in your score, and a reduced number of guesses. :yes:
Check to see that your guesses are weighted evenly. A true guess should give you about 50%. If you are worse than that, you are missing or misinterpreting a fundamental concept, and you need to identify it and work on that concept more.:whip:

Now read the book again. Use a different color highliter and look for key statements you may have missed. By now, you will be remembering a few of the questions that you had missed, and you can look for those answers while re-reading the handbook.

Continue this cycle as long as you can. I usually go until I can score a 90% or higher every time I take the exam. Then I work on the ‘guesses’.

The test does include questions that you won’t find in the handbook, but in my experience, the percentage of those questions is less than 5%. That’s where a good general back up book comes into play.:agree1:

Stop reading and test taking at least 3 or 4 days before taking the test. Get some rest and clear your head.:truce:


I generally have to drive about 45 minutes to the test site, so it’s an early morning for me. I limit myself to one coffee on the drive out.
I bring my two books, a white lined pad, a handful of pencils and a sharpener, and a cheap CVS calculator. Don’t forget some ID.
When I arrive, I drink a 5 hour energy drink, since early mornings are not my clearest time to think.
I generally arrive about 15 minutes early.

Test Taking:

Again, there is a method I follow.

When the test starts, I begin by recording all my answers on my white lined pad. I do not write on the answer sheet until the entire test is finished.
I answer only the questions I know.
If I have to guess, I record a “G” on my pad for that answer.
After I have completed the entire test, I go back to the beginning and start with the “G” questions. I go through them one at a time, using my reference books (for the first time in the test) to validate my answers.
When I finish all the “G”s, I carefully transfer all the answers to the answer sheet.
I usually finish these tests in about an hour and a half, with some of the longer ones taking 2 hours, so I have always had time for this method. If you are a slow reader, this may be difficult for you.:confused:

One other thing, totally off the wall, for a bit of a mental boost, read “The Dilbert Future”, especially the last chapter on affirmations. Scott Adams relates how he can score a 96% on any test, and I have tried his method and continue to use it. It doesn’t work quite as well for me, as I only score 92% every time, but I pass. :2cents:

It will take about a week for ASQ to process your score, unless it is a test like the CMQ/OE, where there is some essay work to read as well. That takes a bit longer.

Good luck to all, I wish you the best, and I wish you a 92! :applause:


Stop X-bar/R Madness!!
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Remember, to pass the test you have to think in terms of an ASQ standard company. When they ask who do you contact for a supplier rejection - what you do at your company may not be the correct answer....even though it is the "real" answer. Also, be sure if you are taking any of the exams that include a written portion to practice answering the question in the time allotted. Understand what kind of response is acceptable. You may be able to answer the question in bullet points rather than drawn-out prose, get it done faster and get all of the points. That is why I prefer ASQ refresher courses - they help sort these things out for you. Cold turkey may not be the best way to take the test - even if you are "good".
Absolutely Right Bob! Think 'theoretical' not 'actual'. This is the time to answer by the book, not from experience.
As for the essays, again you are on the money - I found there was very little time to compose my two essays before the CMQ exam, and Scott K had pointed out the outline form of answer as best, and he could not be more right.


Stop X-bar/R Madness!!
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Another trick I share with my college students: If you are easily distracted by the volume of text you need to review - try highlighting with fluorescent marker. Then, when you do you final studying, do it under a black light (bigger the better), and only the important stuff will jump out - and you can breeze through the review.

OK...it works better with younger eyes, but if it works for you, you win!


What book/study material do you recommend as study guide for the Certified Mgr. of Quality and can be taken into the class to sit exam.?
I used the ASQ handbook for this test -ASQ CMQ/OE, and the Quality Toolbox. Thats all the books, I found the handbook fairly thorough. I was pushed for time on this test as the essay questions are first, and I didnt feel they gave enough time to write an answer in any detail. I used a simple outline format, and in the end, on the second question as I ran out of time I simply wrote line bullets. The rest of the test was straightforward, but it was hard to recover my timing after rushing through those two essays.


Starting to get Involved
I'm taking the Certified Biomedical Auditor next week and I thought the test prep ideas were excellent! How do the 5 hour energy drinks taste? :)
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