In January I looked through the ASQ body of knowledge (BoK) for Black Belt and said to myself, “I know most of this stuff now”. So put in my entry and passed the Mar’08 exam. I thought I would share the experience, as I believe a number of practitioners may have looked at the ASQ exam.

Get a good foundation
I reviewed the ASQ exam a couple of years ago and concluded I did not have the experience to guarantee a pass. So waited until I had delivered the projects, trained the Black Belts and invested my spare time in learning the tools. After all this I decided I had the right foundations in place. ASQ recommend three-years work experience and that seems about right.

Find what you don’t know
Reading through the BoK and doing the sample exam I identified clear areas of weakness. Coming from a Transactional background, there were manufacturing areas I had never covered in particular around Measurement Systems and Design of Experiments.

Invest the time in preparation
I went through every section of the BoK. Be ready for set-piece questions that require calculating from equations, things like confidence intervals and probability. If you are used to having Minitab do the work, practice doing the equations. I invested in the QCI Exam CD and although I found some of the questions infuriatingly ambiguous it does help.

On the day
The exam is open book and covers 150 questions over 4 hours so it’s a bit of a slog. I found my collection of books & materials were good enough and included Six Sigma, Lean, DFSS, Statistics and quick-reference books. I found I needed to refer to all of these during the exam.

Next Steps
I found the brief review of the industry greats, Deming, Juran, Ohno & Taguchi whet my appetite and am keen to learn more. Now I have covered the BoK I am ready to move on and am looking now at understanding the big-picture stuff like strategy planning, target operating model and other related areas

Good luck if you are planning to gain ASQ, let me know if any questions.

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