Statistical Process Control

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Improve your chances of passing an ASQ certification exam
Passingacertification examisn’tagiven, andthechallengeisn’t alwaysinthetestitself. • Thedifferencebetween passingandfailingoften occursbeforetheexam, soit’simportantto knowthepitfallsbefore gettingstarted. • Avoidthesedanger zonestohelpensurea successfuloutcome.

In 50 Words Or Less

by Govind Ramu

Careers

In 2008, 14,906 people took ASQ certification exams. Whether by careful preparation, exceptional test-taking skills, a bit of luck or some combination, 9,394 of these people—or 63%—passed. The year before, the percentage was similar: Of 14,422 people who took certification exams, 9,431 passed (65%). The 2009 success rate as of October was also in that neighborhood, with 6,570 passing out of 9,928 test-takers, or 66%. For a little more perspective, Figure 1 offers a look at the pass rates for ASQ’s 14 certifications. To ensure certifications remain relevant and up to date, ASQ revises each body of knowledge (BoK) every five years. Therefore, the pass rate for each certification in Figure 1 is based on data accumulated since the BoK was last revised. So how can you avoid being one of the certification exam takers who will not pass this year?

Pass rate by ASQ certification
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

/ FiGuRe 1
CHA=certifiedhazardanalysisandcritical controlpointsauditor CQIA=certifiedqualityimprovement associate CMQ/OE=certifiedmanagerofquality/ organizationalexcellence CQA=certifiedqualityauditor CSSGB=certifiedSixSigmaGreenBelt CQPA=certifiedqualityprocessanalyst CCT=certifiedcalibrationtechnician CBA=certifiedbiomedicalauditor CSSBB=certifiedSixSigmaBlackBelt CSQE=certifiedsoftwarequalityengineer CQE=certifiedqualityengineer CQI=certifiedqualityinspector CQT=certifiedqualitytechnician CRE=certifiedreliabilityengineer Notes:Certificationpassratessincelastbody ofknowledgechangeorcertificationinception, coveringfiveyearsofdataormore.Datafrom specialadministrationsofexamsareexcluded fromcalculations.Certifiedpharmaceutical goodmanufacturingpracticesprofessionalnot presentedingraphduetofewerdatapoints.

Average 65%

Pass rate

/O E CQ A CS SG B CQ PA CC T CB A CS SB B CS QE

A CQ IA

CQ E CQ I CQ T

CH

CM Q

Certification

CR

E

January2010QP 41

Having been on both sides of the process—developing and taking exams—I have identified common errors and separated them into three categories: planning and preparation, exam strategy and exam taking. Of course, awareness of common mistakes is just one part of the battle. It’s just as important to understand the reasons these mistakes happen and formulate a strategy for preventing them. If enough of us pay close attention to avoiding the following mistakes, perhaps more of us will end up on the right side of the pass/fail bar.

BoK. Even if it did, in our day-to-day responsibilities, very few of us regularly work on every area in a BoK. We use some areas much less frequently than others. The exam questions are designed to allow test-takers to show their ability to apply book knowledge to a particular situation. Specifically, those sections that are labeled with the cognitive levels of apply, analyze, evaluate and create will be easier for you to address if you can apply your learning to particular situations. Not understanding the cognitive level for each BoK section: Exam takers often ignore the cognitive level specified for each section of the BoK. Paying close attention to the cognitive levels will help you determine the extent of your planning and preparation. Sections that require higher cognitive levels will require more in-depth preparation. For instance, when you see “apply,” you can expect questions that contain specific examples. You should be...
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