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  Guest Editorial

The New Blue

Posted 1/13/2011
By Tony Molla

Things are changing at the home of the Blue Seal.

ASEThose of us who have taken an ASE certification test in the past probably did so using a No. 2 pencil and 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 of its 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 in May and November 2011.

The move to computer-based testing (CBT) 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 a while. These improvements include instant results, more frequent testing and the ability to take the test on your own terms.

Although ASE has been offering some tests in a 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 360 locations. As before, the tests will be offered in proctored test centers, not online over the Internet.

Enhanced CBT for all ASE certification categories debuts in July and August 2011, and beginning in January 2012 and going forward, it will be available eight months of the year in a recurring two-months-on, one-month-off cycle. CBT offers advantages in scheduling, convenience and flexibility over the written tests, and it 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.

As part of the changeover process to Prometric, the new test provider, the Winter 2011 CBT tests will not be offered. Because of this, technicians whose employers require certain tests for bonuses or pay grades should check the expiration date on their ASE credentials and tests at the next opportunity, which will be in May 2011.

Finally, one of the criteria ASE used in finding a new testing partner was to reduce the cost associated with CBT testing. That goal has been achieved. When launched next summer, 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 the number taken. Registration costs $36, regardless of the number of tests taken.

For more information and a list of frequently asked questions, visit the ASE website at or call customer service at (703) 669-6600. ASE will release additional information as details are finalized. 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.

Tony Molla Tony Molla is the vice president of communications for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) in Leesburg, Va. With more than 35 years experience in the automotive service industry, Molla has held positions at all levels, including technician, service manager, parts store manager, new car sales and automotive technical editor writing service manuals for the Chilton Book Company. He has authored more than a dozen technical and car care manuals. He can be reached at


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