Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Certification Advice

After joining the American Society for Quality (ASQ) as a member in 1987, I decided to take the ASQ Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) exam in December 1988. At that time I was with the AT&T Bell Laboratories and already working in quality management area.

As we had embarked on a journey of quality excellence at Bell Labs in Naperville, Illinois, my Vice President (Edward Prell) in the International Switching Customer Business Unit had an expectation that I should become certified in quality discipline. Also, help prepare others at AT&T Bell Labs to get their ASQ certifications.

I enrolled in a CQE preparation class at the Oakton Community College in Des Plaines (about 30 miles from my home). There were 10, three hour sessions in the evening. One interesting thing happened in the class was to form a buddy system. I paired up with another class participant, who served as a sounding board. That buddy system helped me a great deal in clearing up my doubts and answering difficult questions. I did pass my CQE exam at the first attempt (pass rate was 33% at that time).

To follow up on my VP's expectation, I started an ASQ CQE preparation pilot in 1989 with 5-6 colleagues in the quality department at AT&T Bell Labs. Once they got their CQE, in 1990 we started offering ASQ CQE preparation classes at AT&T Bell Labs, twice a year (April-May and October-November). From 1990 through 1995, we enrolled around 350 colleagues at AT&T Bell Labs in these Prep classes. Out of 350, 200 decided to take the CQE exam, and 89 got their CQE (Our prep class passing rate was around 66%). This was one of the highest numbers of ASQ certifications among all of the AT&T locations including manufacturing sites.

Here are some tips and tricks to prepare for ASQ Certification exams:
  • Have proper credentials to qualify for taking a specific ASQ certification exam.
  • Have adequate preparation - either join a refresher preparation class through your local section or join a refresher class at a community college.
  • Always use a buddy system - pair up with another exam candidate from your area. 
  • Have good practice solving prior year exam questions (e.g. Juran & Gryna textbook).
  • For an open book exam, take only relevant reference books with you. I saw several people bring bags full of books - it does not help, it wastes your valuable time.
  • The certification exam needs good time management:  
          1). First answer those questions, where you know the answer.
          2). Pass on most difficult questions in round 1.
          3). Tackle difficult questions in round 2 - you may need to look up a right reference.
          4). In multiple choice questions, 2 out of 4 choices are incorrect, eliminate them.
          5). Do not leave any questions unanswered. If unsure, make an educated guess.
          6). Always check your answers at the end.
  • Prior to the exam day, have a good night rest - do not cram at the last minute. It is counterproductive!
  • Once prepared, focus on taking the exam and passing it at a first attempt.
If you are certified, I look forward to learning about your tricks and tips.

1 comment:

  1. Aspiring to go ahead with ASQ certification. Was looking for complete books and material to go ahead with CQE certification. I found your blog with very nice piece of information and go ahead to follow. I found other good websites too, that will too help me.!!! Later I am looking for online Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) practice questions or exam to boost my confident to crack ASQ certification exam at first attempt