There’s been a lot of discussion lately in the ASQ LinkedIn group regarding certification exam preparation. I found the discussion to be particularly interesting considering I just took the CMQ/OE exam myself. Receiving that confirmation yesterday that I passed brought on a rather large smile and a huge sense of relief. I’m thankful for all of the helpful tips I received from friends and the LinkedIn group.
In the few months I had to prepare, here’s how I approached getting ready:
1) I ordered the study materials right away. Before I read through the LinkedIn thread, I only had the Quality Toolbox and the ASQ book. I should have ordered the Quality Council of Indiana’s prep book and solution text much sooner. I found these to be the most helpful. They were easier to follow for a studying purpose, but the prep book was also the most useful during the exam.
2) Take a pre-test. ASQ offers one online and the prep materials include example exam questions as well. I took the online test, and it helped me identify where I needed to focus. Think Pareto. I’ll also add that taking the pre-test eliminated the overconfidence I was suffering from. It provided some much needed perspective on the importance of studying.
3) Schedule in regular, small plots of time for studying. I divided study time up between reading the materials and going through sample exam questions. I focused heavily on going through the example questions and understanding the logic behind the answers. As an applied examination, this is particularly important. The test is much more than knowing what stuff means. Preparing a strategy for the essay questions was a big help as well. There are some excellent examples and advice included in the prep materials.
4) As an open book exam, it’s important to remember that it’s still timed. Prior to the exam, I removed the index of the prep materials and marked certain chapters that I knew I’d want to reference. Having your materials organized actually does give you some extra time. I also printed out a reference sheet of financial formulas and the quality gurus.
5) The day of the exam, I arrived early to try and score a cozy spot and get my materials laid out and organized. For the multiple choice questions, I went through and answered all of the ones I felt confident about. Then, I went back for a second round and looked up the questions I thought I knew but just wanted to double check. When it came down to the last 30 minutes, I went through any that were still unanswered and looked those up. I answered the last question in that last minute!
Overall, there’s no doubt that there’s value in certification. There’s also no doubt that it requires some effort. But, it’s worth it…
“Do or do not. There is no try.” ~Yoda