Most people’s biggest challenge is finding time to study. You know you need consistent study. You know you need to have an effective study practice. How do you balance work AND personal commitments AND make time for that?

Even if you have all the time in the world, why spend more time than you need to?

You want the fastest way to pass a Six Sigma exam.

The Brute Force Method

The way most people study for certification exams is broken. I call it the Brute Force method.

The Brute force method takes many shapes but it looks like this:

  • People open the book that came with the course.
  • They start at chapter 1 and try to go through to the end of the book, or until the day of the exam comes.
  • They review the questions they saw during their course.

Sometimes this works. Most of the time it doesn’t. At best, it makes studying for a certification exam a long, tedious route to passing. At worst, people study the wrong things and then fail their exams.

The Baseline Method: The Fastest Way to Pass a Six Sigma Exam

If you’ve come this far and you’re reading this newsletter, you’re familiar with Six Sigma. You know how to improve a process. And you know the DMAIC framework.

So why not apply it to your studying?

That’s what we’re going to do here – quickly!

The Fastest Way to Pass a Six Sigma Exam is by using the Baseline Method.

You can see better results in less time by:

  • By identifying your knowledge gaps upfront.
  • Using targeted studying to improve the lowest area.
  • Repeating.

Step 1: Define

Let’s define the problem. All you need to pass the exam is a certain number of points.

It doesn’t matter what sections you score these points in. You need a certain amount of them.

Step 2: Measure

But how close are you to getting that necessary score? Here’s where the method gets its name. Find a take a practice exam that aligns with your belt and the organization’s Body of Knowledge.

Take the exam and see what you get.

If you score high, consider taking a few more to make sure that you didn’t get a false positive. If you score high enough (with a factor of safety built-in, of course), congratulations! You’re done!!

But, if you did score lower than you’d like to have, then it’s time to add the next step of the Baseline method.

Step 3: Analyze

Since Six Sigma is often about lowering the number of defects. Let’s consider wrong answers defects.

In a typical Six Sigma engagement, you’d probably make a snazzy chart of these. Maybe you’d use everyone’s favorite, the Pareto chart!

Whatever you’d use, you’d focus on the area that had the most defects. That’s what we will do here.

Remember the plan is to get the most points possible. The place where you can get the most points is in the section you scored the worst in. Start there.

Here’s an example.

Imagine you took a practice test. You scored 90% in the Define section, 85% in the Measure section, 40% in Analyze, 55% in Improve, and 60% in Control.

It makes no sense to spend more time in Define and Measure. Instead, start with the 40% you scored in the Analyze section.

Step 4: Improve

Identify your weakest topic. Now, it’s time to focus your studying efforts on that area. Use reference material and practice exercises to help you master the topic.

Take another practice quiz that focuses on that area. This will help you gauge your improvement in that specific area.

Following the example, let’s say you scored low in Analyze because of Hypothesis tests. In particular, you scored lowest on non-parametric Hypothesis tests. Focus there.

Keep studying and taking quizzes on that topic until you’ve closed the gap.

Step 5: Control

Be sure to retake a full-length practice exam after you improve on that topic. If you have several areas you need to improve in this will make sure you don’t backslide. You’ll keep your hard-won knowledge.

Following the example, above let’s say you were able to raise your Analyze phase score to 80%. But the next lowest was the Improve phase

Keep repeating this process until you’re completely prepared for the exam. Each time through you’ll be raising your possible grade as much as possible. This gives you the best opportunity to achieve the score you need.

The Fastest Way to Pass a Six Sigma Exam is to use the Baseline Method

The Baseline Method helps you identify your weaknesses upfront. You take a full-length practice exam right at the start of your study journey. You’ll be able to determine where your knowledge gaps lie and where you need to focus your attention.

Once you’ve identified your weak areas, you will focus on those topics. This allows you to use your time efficiently and effectively. Rather than studying every topic, you’re studying the areas that will give you your highest ROS – Return on Studying!


The Fastest Way to Pass a Six Sigma Exam is by using the Baseline Method.

You can see better results in less time by:

  • By identifying your knowledge gaps upfront.
  • Using targeted studying to improve the lowest area.
  • Repeating.

So, if you’re ready to take your studying to the next level, try the Baseline Method today! You’ll be amazed at how fast your score rises – and how much less time you’ll need to prepare!

Best, Ted Hessing

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