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Tips and tricks for ASE certification test taking

Friday, October 5, 2018 - 06:00
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The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) was founded in 1972 to determine the competency of technicians through testing. Individuals who have the proper field experience and pass the tests get a certification that lasts for five years.

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ASE certifications have been part of my career since I started tech school. Throughout my career, I have been hired and paid based on my certifications. Not only that, but different entities from OEM manufacturers to certain municipalities, have accepted these certifications in place of required training or have required them to work on vehicles in different parts of the country.

Now, I find myself in need of recertification before the end of 2018. Wanting to maintain my ASE Master Technician status, I am again starting a process that I have used to pass the tests and remain ASE certified.

I think it’s something that could help all techs, so, here it is!

The process

The first thing to do is NOT wait until the last minute to get started! Get registered and select the testing center you wish to use. Last time I recertified, I learned that the hard way, having to drive over an hour to the testing facility. Worse was the fact that I needed to do it twice since I had to split the testing up over two days. Having a long drive after testing is not too pleasant, so do yourself a favor and don’t wait!

Test-taking stinks. You need to have a system in place that helps you answer questions. For many, knowledge isn’t the problem; it’s the way the questions are worded that trip them up. I found I had this issue long ago while preparing for the test. I took a study guide test, and when I graded myself, I failed! I was shocked. I went back and reviewed the questions I got wrong and quickly realized that I knew the answers, but how I interpreted the questions was my problem, not the material.

I sought out every source I could, finding ASE-like tests and questions. I looked online, in study guides, and old school books. Online, I found tests with extremely dated technical information, but they still were in the common question formats I had to learn to work with. I set aside some time every day to practice working with the questions.

Doing this gives has several advantages:

  1. You get used to reading the questions and answers. It takes practice.
  2. It prepares you for sitting and taking the tests. This helps to get the idea that the test is timed off of your mind. You build test-taking stamina.
  3. As you go over the questions and answers, you are reviewing the material.
  4. You get familiar with the different question formats you will be facing.

Understanding how to read and answer the different question formats is also key to success.

The Questions


The first type of question we will deal with is the direct, or completion, kind of questions. These describe the vehicle equipment and a symptom that can occur, then either ask a question or ask you to complete the statement with “the most likely cause” answer.

Here is an example:

A customer states that the Traction Control and ABS Lights come on and stay on when driving a short distance after starting the vehicle. Which of these is the most likely cause?

  1. Damaged tone ring on a front axle
  2. Brake pads cracked
  3. Coolant leak
  4. Starter pinion

Read the question and note everything it tells you about the situation. Next, consider all the answers. Eliminate the answers that are obviously incorrect, then choose the correct answer.

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