How to Pass ASQ (and Other) Certification Exams

Passing an examination, such as those offered by the American Society for Quality, ASCM (formerly APICS), and NCEES requires, first of all, that you know the material. It is almost as important, however, to know how to prepare for and take the examination. Working practice problems and ensuring that you know how to arrive at the correct answers is absolutely vital.

If you are comfortable with self-study, then I recommend the Quality Council of Indiana’s certification primers and also practice tests. You should probably be able to prepare for any ASQ certification exam with these materials on your own, without the need for instructor-led study. In any event, the importance of working practice problems cannot be overemphasized.

It is vitally important to read the questions carefully and make sure you are answering the question and not something else. Don’t read into the problem something that isn’t there.

It is also usually possible to eliminate at least two of the four potential answers as totally nonsense (e.g. “Discipline the production worker for poor quality” is highly unlikely to be the correct answer, especially when alternatives such as “Perform corrective and preventive action to identify the root cause of the poor quality” are available). The answer must make sense. Numerical answers must be realistic, e.g. the chance of accepting a poor quality lot is unlikely to be 90%, although the chance of rejecting it being 90% is very likely–this is in fact the usual probability given for the rejectable quality level in a sampling plan. Alternatively, the chance of acceptance is only 10%. A 95% chance of rejection at the acceptable quality level (AQL) is equally unrealistic; the textbook producer’s risk of rejection is actually 5%.

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