Getting the lead out

There are big changes afoot at the home of the Blue Seal of Excellence. In fact, this year marks the end of one era at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the beginning of another.

ASE is moving into the 21st century in a big way, with new tools and online capabilities to provide an unprecedented level of service to our certified professionals. That’s what’s beginning.

What’s ending is the need for a No. 2 pencil to get certified. This year, ASE is “Getting the Lead Out.”

Those of us who have taken an ASE Certification Test in the past probably did so by carefully filling in a bubble sheet to answer the questions. Since ASE’s founding in 1972, paper-and-pencil has been the most common form of testing. Soon, that will no longer be the case.

ASE has begun the process to transition all ASE certification tests from paper-and-pencil written testing to a computer-based delivery format by 2012.

After 39 years, written tests will be offered for the final two times: this month and this November.

Natural Evolution

The move to computer-based testing is the natural evolution of any paper-based test these days, but in ASE’s case, it also allows the organization to address some significant improvements in the program that technicians have been requesting for awhile. These improvements include instant results, more frequent testing and the ability to take the test on your own terms by making an appointment that fits your schedule.

Although ASE has been offering some tests in a computer-based testing (CBT) format for the past few years, beginning in July 2011, every ASE certification test and its recertification counterpart will be available. That’s 48 certification tests across 11 specialties.

Also, the number of CBT test sites will increase from approximately 200 to more than 300 locations.

As before, the tests are offered in proctored test centers, not online over the Internet.

Enhanced computer-based testing for all ASE certification categories debuts in July and August 2011. Beginning January 2012 and going forward, computer-based testing will be available eight months of the year in a recurring two months on, one month off cycle.

Several Advantages

Computer-based testing offers advantages in scheduling, convenience and flexibility over the written tests, and will offer a vast choice of daytime, night and weekend reserved appointments.

Perhaps the biggest advantage is that now technicians will know if they passed before leaving the test center.

One of the criteria ASE used in building the new system was to reduce the cost associated with CBT testing. That goal has been achieved.

When launched in July, the new CBT tests will cost the same as the written tests. Regular tests will cost $30 each; Advanced Tests (L1 and L2) are $60 each. Recertification tests max out at $90, regardless of number of tests taken. Registration costs $36, regardless of the number of tests taken.

Some Constants

It’s also important to know that nothing else about the ASE Certification Program is changing. The certification is still good for five years.

The questions used on the new CBT tests are the same as those you’re used to on the written exams. And, yes, Technician A and Technician B are still with us.

The purpose of adding this new technology is to improve the testing experience and make everything more accessible, more immediate and more flexible than any written format can provide. For ASE, it’s a step into the 21st century that will, we believe, make the certification program even more relevant and valuable to the hundreds of thousands of automotive professionals who proudly wear the ASE Blue Seal.

Other Changes

Along with our new computer-based testing program, ASE is also improving its website to add new features to help you manage your certifications and advance in your career.

We’re also adding a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to improve our service and allow for even more features and benefits for our certified professionals.

You’ll be hearing about these new and improved features as they’re introduced throughout the year.

Look for ASE representatives at major industry events and trade shows as we roll out our “Get The Lead Out” program, and ask them to tell you all about what’s new at ASE for 2011 and beyond.

For more information and a list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit the ASE website at or call customer service at (703) 669-6600.

Needless to say, we’re excited about this improvement to the ASE testing program and look forward to continuing to provide 21st century credentials for 21st century technicians.