Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2002   by Auto Service World

Countertalk For the Counterperson: ASE Parts Specialist Test – Changes With the TimeS

Counterpeople who will be renewing their ASE Parts Specialist Certification and those counterpeople embarking on the certification trail for the first time should understand that the exam has not remained the same over the years.

In the past five years alone, three question-writing workshops have been held, says Dave Milne, executive director, special testing programs. In those workshops, questions are created, vetted, and later tested for how accurately they can test for a parts specialist’s competence. And, since the demands of the job have changed, so has the test.

“Over the last five years, probably what has changed most about the test is in the product knowledge area. We have written a lot more questions on being able to explain to the customer about the basic use and installation of the product. They need to be able to give instructions. Probably 75% of the people who walk through the door aren’t just looking for a part; they’re also looking for information,” says Milne.

“The other area is in the sales skills. We really expect them to be familiar with the science of selling. There are steps you need to go through. Everything from greeting the customers and establishing their needs, discussing features and benefits, to addressing objections and closing the sale.” Milne says that this is one knowledge area that is often neglected in training.

The regular test question writing workshops–grueling but rewarding affairs I had the pleasure of taking part in several years ago–also ensure that the test questions reflect the current state of technology in the vehicle fleet.

“You will not find any questions on carburetion. You will not find any questions on points and condensers,” says Milne, adding that fuel injection, direct ignition, and ABS have made their way into the test.

“Now, I can’t say that we’ve written an overwhelming number of questions on ABS. Those are reliable systems, you’re not selling accumulators every day, but we do have other questions that are valid for that. Also, there are a lot of cars with drum brakes out there, so you could see questions on that.

There is also a major change coming for next spring’s test: a new task list, which defines the areas that a test will cover. While test takers won’t have to worry about it right now, it does mark a significant change for the Parts Specialist test.

“It’s not in effect for this fall, but it will be in the spring. There have been some considerable changes. We have added new tasks for the spring on recommendation of tools and the uses of those tools. We’d expect them to know about scanners, multimeters, etc.

“Another thing that a recent group did was add a new product category. Now we have a separate category for battery, charging, and starting components [which are now combined under electrical and electronics]. We are now up to 15 vehicle systems.”

As always, though, the key to passing the Parts Specialist Certification exam is preparation. Refresh your memory on vehicle systems and communications skills.

“As always, these are questions that are about situations that all parts specialists are going to encounter on a regular basis,” says Milne. “We are not looking at oddball questions on things you might encounter once or twice in a career. We’re looking for knowledge of those things you encounter on a regular basis.”

For registration or other information, contact the Institute for Automotive Service Excellence at (703) 669-6600 or you can visit and register online.

Fall Test Registration Deadline: September 27, 2002

Fall Test Dates: November 7, 12, and 14, 2002

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