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ASQ Exam Preparation

How to Prepare for the ASQ Certification Exam

ASQ Certification is a prestigious and well respected certification that validates your credentials as a quality professional and can have a significant impact on your career.  Those who achieve ASQ Certification earn more than those without the certification.  Our goal is to help you achieve the ASQ certification that best fits your background and career goals. 

The best way for you to prepare for one of the ASQ Certification exams is to first select the certification that best suits you and ensure you meet the qualifications.  Next, become familiar with the body of knowledge for that exam and conducting a gap analysis of your skill set to the body of knowledge.  Find your areas of weakness and focus on those.  Obtain a good reference book from ASQ or the Quality Council of Indiana.  Whichever reference material you choose, get familiar with it and be able to navigate it efficiently and effectively, time is everything during the exam.  Next you must put in the time and prepare. 

Once you have determined the ASQ Certification that fits your needs and you meet the qualifications, become familiar with the body of knowledge for that exam.     Conduct a gap analysis of your skill set to the body of knowledge considering levels of cognition for the various elements within the body of knowledge.  For example, I-B-2-a of the CQE body of knowledge deals with benchmarking,  with a "remember" cognitive level.  You just need to know what benchmarking is from a definition perspective.  You could look it up in a glossary.  Section II-C-1 of the CQA body of knowledge, dealing with reporting requires a “create” cognitive level.  This requires you to have a thorough understanding of how to review and report audit findings and objective evidence for action.  This will require a higher level of understanding than looking up a definition.  

Find your areas of weakness and focus on those.  We have the various versions of the body of knowledge in word format to allow for editing.  Under each section you can write your own explanation of what the topic is.  Don't find it in a reference book and write it down, get to the point of studying where you know it and you can write it down.  If you get through the entire body of knowledge, it will serve as excellent reference material during the exam.

As an example, consider the CQA BOK and primarily Section V-2-C-1 which states:

Measures of central tendency Identify, interpret, and use mean, median, and mode. (Apply)  

You could write the following:

The mean is the sum of all values divided by the total number of values, the median is the center when the values are arranged in increasing or decreasing order and the mode is the most frequently occurring value.

Success on the ASQ certification exam is entirely based on understanding the information in the body of knowledge but more a combination of that with a strategy for taking a timed, multiple choice exam.  When progressing through the exam, stay within the scope of the question and select the strongest answer.  There are questions that may have multiple answers that are correct, but one will be the strongest.  

For example, the question below for a CMQ/OE:

A leader derives his or her leadership role from:

(a)    his or her experience and training

(b)    acceptance of his or her direction by followers

(c)    top management

(d)    acceptance by top management

The key to this question is "LEADER", what is a leader and what defines a leader.  A leader is someone who has followers.  With that, the answer becomes clear and is (b).  When you lose focus of the key word you can get bogged down by the appearance of strong filler answers such as "acceptance by top management".

Or try this question for a more technical certification like CQE:

You are comparing 6 hospitals for their ability to treat an illness.  The levels of treatment are separated into three categories, (1) total recovery, (2) improving and (3) no change.  How many degrees of freedom will you use in the determination of if there is a difference in the six hospitals?

Understanding what approach to use involves the use of discrete data and comparing proportions.  The only possible answer is a contingency table.  The degrees of freedom are (rows -1) x (columns -1) or (6-1) x (3-1) = 5 x 2 = 10 degrees of freedom.

The most influential factor in passing the ASQ certification exam is being prepared and that is a multi faceted approach.  Along with an understanding of the body of knowledge it is necessary to have a disciplined approach to read the question thoroughly and determine the key points.

For example, the question below:

Which of the following tools is most appropriate for categorizing a list of ideas for a continuous improvement effort?

(a)    brainstorming

(b)    prioritization matrix

(c)    affinity diagram

(d)    tree diagram

The key word in this question is categorizing.  Based on that the answer is (c).  If you change categorizing to generating, the answer becomes (a).  


Taking and passing an ASQ certification exam requires a strategy on exam day.  ASQ certification exams are time restricted, therefore you need a time management plan.  For example for the Certified Quality Engineer, CQE exam you have five hours to complete 160 questions or 1.875 minutes/question.  If your goal is to complete the exam 30 minutes early that means you have 1.6875 minutes/question or you are working at about 18 questions every 30 minutes.  If you are not keeping this pace you need to adjust during the exam. 

The ASQ Certification exams are scored using the modified Angoff procedure.  The Modified Angoff procedure is used to determine the initial passing score for an examination used to certification purposes.  This method is one of the most popular approaches for establishing a minimum score for passing.  The modified Angoff procedure determines an person's pass/fail performance independently of the entire group that participated in the exam. When you sit for an ASQ Certification exam you are judged by comparing your score or performance to an absolute standard, not to the other candidates who took the same exam as you.  With this method, everyone who sits for an ASQ Certification exam could pass, it is just a matter if preparation.