Six Sigma Green Belt—5 FAQs on Certification Exam


The American Society for Quality sponsors many certifications relating to quality, one of which is the Six Sigma Green Belt (SSGB). This post talks about the certification test, so you understand what is involved in preparing for it.

1. When is the exam offered?

The date to take the next SSGB certification exam being offered at a local ASQ chapter is December 1, 2012, but the deadline for applying for this exam has unfortunately already passed. For those on the West Coast, you can take the exam at the 2013 Lean and Six Sigma conference which will take place in Phoenix, AZ on March 3, 2013. The application deadline for that exam is coming up on January 20, 2013.  Other exam dates and locations are to be found on the ASQ website.

2. What is the cost of the exam?

It costs at the present time $359 to apply and take the exam, but only $209 if you are a member of ASQ. Since the ASQ membership costs $139, and you get a $150 discount on the exam if you are an ASQ member, I strongly recommend that you become an ASQ member if you plan to take the SSGB exam.   In addition, if you become a member of ASQ, you will be able to connect to other members in the quality community locally, and networking is an essential part of your career.

3. What material do I study to prepare for the exam?
The material covered in the exam is called the Six Sigma Green Belt Body of Knowledge, and that is contained in the Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Primer published by the Quality Council of Indiana (QCI). The primer contains all the Six Sigma and Lean topics covered in the exam. It also includes sample test questions for each of the chapters, which are outlined in the chart below under question 5. The cost of the primer is $70. There is a solution manual for the sample test questions that costs an additional $35, and an electronic exam CD gives additional practice questions from past SSGB exams, and costs an additional $70. So the entire “deluxe” set of preparatory materials from QCI costs $175 (plus shipping and handling).

The exam is an OPEN BOOK test, and you may bring the CSSGB primer with you to the exam. However, the sample test questions in the primer that come from previous exams must be removed; these are printed on green paper so you can easily locate these pages.

An important hint was given us by our instructors, namely, to put tabs on the various pages where we locate important concepts or formulas that come up on practice exam questions. Also take the index out of the primer and put it at the FRONT of the book so you can remove it during the exam and have it ready to be referred to. This is because you will need it to search for important terms, etc., and having it out in front of you will save some time as compared to having it at the back of the binder where you constantly have to flip back and forth between it and the material in the front of the binder.

4. What kind of calculator is allowed on the exam?
Since there will be some questions that require calculation, you can bring a calculator as long as it is not a programmable one. Smart phones are not allowed to be taken into the test.

What our ASQ instructor for our SSGB class recommended we use is the TI-36X Pro calculator which costs somewhere around $20-$25, depending on where you buy it. Added to the cost of the QCI primer materials, you are looking at a total cost of about $200 for the preparation materials plus your calculator. It is important to practice using your calculator before the exam so that you know where all the relevant buttons are in order to do your statistical or other calculations. Taking a “calculator guide” which outlines where the important statistical functions are located on your calculator is something highly recommended by our instructor, so you don’t waste time trying to hunt for the right buttons during the exam.

5. How is the exam scored?

There are 100 questions, and you have 4 hours to complete the exam, so that means you have 2.4 minutes per each question. This should be plenty of time to answer the questions. Here’s how they are broken down in terms of subject area of the SSGB Body of Knowledge or BoK. You will notice that after the overview, the categories correspond to the acronym DMAIC, the basic methodology of Six Sigma.

Category of BoK Number of Questions Chapters in CSSGB Primer
Overview 15 2, 3
Define 25 4, 5
Measure 30 6,7,8
Analyze 15 9
Improve 15 10
Control 11

The two largest areas are Measure, containing the statistical tools and techniques used in Six Sigma, and Define, where you go from defining the problem to proposing a solution. Then come the three areas of a) Analyze, where you design an experiment to test the solution, b ) Improve and Control, where you implement the solution and make sure it stays implemented, and c) Overview, which explains the basic principles behind Six Sigma and introduces some of its tools & techniques.

I hope that this post answers questions you may have on the exam and what you should do to prepare for it. If you do have additional questions, leave them in the comments to this post.

So far in my posts on Six Sigma and Lean I have been covering topics that are in the Overview section of the SSGB BoK as given in the CSSGB Primer. I will complete these in the next few so I can go on to the next section, that of Define.

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2 Responses

  1. Can you bring handwritten notes?

    • No, you cannot bring any type of handwritten notes into the exam room. You cannot even bring a smartphone, so make sure you let people know you will be in an exam and cannot be disturbed. There are lockers so you can put your cellphone, etc., away during the duration of the exam.

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