The ASQ Six Sigma certification is a highly-desirable certification for both green belts and black belts. And it’s not easy. How to Study for the ASQ Six Sigma Certification After Passing a Different One.

ASQ is not the only option for certification, but it’s one that I am asked about often; especially by practitioners who have been certified in other areas. So, How do you Study for the ASQ certification After Passing the IASSC, Villanova or other Six Sigma Certification?

Why Pursue an ASQ certification?

Some employers prefer ASQ certifications.

Some people want to participate in that organization and want to be recognized for their achievements there. (It’s a pain in the but to go to a conference and have to explain that you are certified, just elsewhere.)

Some people use IASSC, Villanova, Moresteam, etc  as a milestone because that is what training they had access to. That was certainly my experience. I took the Villanova Black Belt training and passed that certification the first try. I then geared up for the ASQ Black Belt certification, also passing on my first try.

Concerns About Pursuing ASQ:

  • Terminology is Different
    • Not going to hear a lot about George Eckes on ASQ like you do on Villanova.
  • Rigor is different
    • Less memorization, more calculations
  • Additional topics
    • Just look at the difference between the BOKs!
  • Test Mechanics are different
    • Different weightings
    • Open book
    • In person, not online

Approach to Bridging the Gap

This may sound like a tall order. And it is. That said, if you’ve had quality Six Sigma training, I don’t think you’re too far out of it. People exposed to both IASSC and ASQ GB tell me there is roughly 80% overlap between the 2. That was my experience with the Villanova and the ASQ as well. People consider the ASQ to be more in-depth. The BOKs seem to support this.


Step 1: Assessment Exam

You want to benchmark yourself. Find a representative exam where you can test yourself against what’s expected on the exam. (If you don’t have one, my study guide has several you can use.)

Let’s say that you retained 80% of IASSC’s materials, you could be expected to get around a 64% on the assessment test – give or take how the randomized test selected questions. It may be the next time you take the pre-assessment, it will be more aligned to things you covered via IASSC, but we’d have to test to find out.

If you did well, I’d focus on the best areas for you to polish up on for the ASQ. If you did not do well, You’ll need more training.

Step 2: ASQ Training

There’s no easy way around this; if you do not have sufficient training, you will have to get it. I find that there are many practitioners who have great six sigma educations and got certified in IASSC. This disclaimer is not for them. I also find that many people take the IASSC exam because they are chasing a credential, and simply cram the information needed for the exam, rather than truly learning and applying the material. It’s much more difficult to do that in the ASQ exam.

Since the ASQ exam is open-book, open calculator, and open reference sheet, the expectation is that you be able to identify what the problem statement is asking of you and perform any algorithms an calculations needed.

Don’t get me wrong. The ASQ exam will require a ton of memorization and active recall abilities if you are to complete the certification exam questions within the time allotted.

Here are your options:

2.1) Take a full ASQ-certified GB course.

Pros: learn the material from the source in accordance to the BOK. Live teacher and classmates to interact with. Will reinforce your existing knowledge.
Cons: will take some time (up to a semester) and can be very expensive.

Sadly, the ASQ course doesn’t provide a syllabus, but you can find a description here. That’s obviously a huge resource commitment so I looked for alternatives.

2.2) Bridge the gap with self-study

Pros: customized to your exact situation, which may accelerate timeline. Less costly than taking the full ASQ course.
Cons: time and lack of accountability.
Note: there are a couple of ways to do option 2.

2.2.1 – Study with a book reference.

I hear good things about the Indiana Council Green Belt primer and the The Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook, Second Edition.

Pros: while the books aren’t cheap, they are an order of magnitude less expensive than taking a course.
Cons: It’s up to you to organize your study – entirely possible, but not for everyone. No one to ask questions to. No description of questions – why they are right or wrong.

2.22 – Guided Study with my Six Sigma Study Guide.

Pros: while it isn’t cheap, they are an order of magnitude less expensive than taking a course. Your course of study is organized for you. It’s online so it works on your terms and your schedule.
Cons: It’s still not a live instructor format, but I’ll do my best to explain any terms or questions you have about my materials.

Neither of these options are coursework, per se. They are review materials designed for those who have been exposed to Six Sigma already and need a reference.

As I mentioned above, the Six Sigma Study Guide can help you close the gap with:

  • Assessment exams.
  • 1000s of practice questions with detailed notes.
  • Study what and how you need:
    • Individual Topics
    • Whole sections
    • Cumulative reviews
    • Entire syllabus with full-length mock exams
  • Proven strategy for optimizing your limited study time.
  • Automatic reminders of what to study, when.
  • Links to topic notes to review.
  • Ability to ask me questions at any time.

Also, at the start of each module in PYSSGB, beginning with Module 2, Unit 1 I have a page of review notes. Those are links to all of my notes that are pertinent to that section. They link to hundreds of free articles on my website.

Reminder: Similar to the review books I mention, those notes are not all complete, nor are they intended for learning from scratch, but they are available and I have been slowly improving them year-on-year. They also provide the benefit that ANY time I’ve heard of a subject being on any GB exam for any organization, I make sure to have at least a page on it. If you ever have a question on any topic, please leave a note in the comments on the appropriate page and I’ll do my best to help out.


Comments (2)

“I also find that many people take the IASSC exam because they are chasing a credential, and simply cram the information needed for the exam, rather than truly learning and applying the material. It’s much more difficult to do that in the ASQ exam.”

I see it like you! People often learn only the informations and the facts for the exam, but dont understand how to use it. So in my opinion the practis is important and so how much expierience do you have in using Six Sigma.

I want to do the Six Sigma Black Belt exam of IASSC and ASQ. I think its easier to start with the IASSC exam and to do after the ASQ exam? What would you recommend?

If you compare the exams, how difficult is the exam of IASSC and ASQ?
How much time do you need to pass the exams or how much time would you spend on the IASSC or ASQ BB?

Thanks for your answer 🙂

Hi Andy,

I wrote this article a while ago, so my stance has softened somewhat. I think due to the nature of the IASSC exam – pure memorization, no reference guides allowed, and no requirements to show completed projects – the questions that you will be asked
will be easier. Think of it. If you can’t have reference sheets, how would you possibly handle complex statistical questions?

However, it’s only easier if you are the kind of person who performs well on memorization tasks.

If you are, then great! You’ll have all of the “trivia” memorized by the time you complete the IASSC. That will help you complete those kinds of questions more quickly on the ASQ black belt and give you time to give greater consideration to the more complex statistical questions.

How much time it takes to study depends on 1) How well prepared you are to take the exam and 2) how good you are at studying.

That’s why my course offers both pre-assessment exams and a ton of practice questions and topics.

In general I would reserve around 200 hours of studying time after completing a full semester Black Belt course.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.