Auto Service World
Feature   March 1, 2004   by Andrew Ross

How to Pass the ASE Parts Specialist Test

Deadline for Enrolment: March 26

Testing Date Across Canada: May 4

Contact the ASE at (319) 337-1433 or online at

There is no doubt that many professional counterpeople have found value in electing to become ASE Certified Parts Specialists. Personal satisfaction and career advancement are two reasons counterpeople have chosen to take the test, but there are others.

“To keep up with the Joneses and to see if I could do it without studying,” says Chris Henderson, D&T Auto Parts, Leamington, Ont. “I did and I aced it,” he adds.

Henderson, who is co-owner of the operation, says that most of the counter staff at the company’s four stores are ASE Certified, including four at the Leamington branch alone.

He says that for most staff, preparing for the test is the real benefit, as it still doesn’t get much recognition from the customer base.

“It is an up-and-coming thing. Eventually it will have recognition. It doesn’t have the same status as in the U.S, but that didn’t happen overnight. We did it in order to learn.”

He does say that DIY customers are more apt to question what the ASE patch means, providing an opportunity to talk about he professionalism it stands for.

Still, he didn’t have to study, so what does that say about the learning process he speaks of?

“The difference was 30 years in the business. It is definitely a nice asset to the business. We don’t have the recognition for it as they do in the U.S., but it is still valuable for the less experienced people because it forced them to learn.”

For those counterpeople who do not have the benefit of three decades of experience, there are a few tips that can pave the way to a successful result.

Despite the fact that thousands of counterpeople have successfully achieved ASE Certification, many of you are still reluctant to take a written test. This is completely understandable. After all, you spend most of your days in the verbal world, not the written one. You should not let this apprehension keep you from striving for ASE Certification.

Here are a few tips to help you succeed:

Practice: Many suppliers have pre-test courses that will not only refresh your knowledge, but also give you a chance to get used to writing a test.

Study: Check out those counterperson correspondence course manuals. You may even want to look at some troubleshooting guides. While you won’t be tested on in-depth diagnostics, you will be tested on component and system knowledge. In fact, it is the largest section of the test and the area where failure is the most common.

Take it seriously: Cockiness is the first step on the road to failing the exam. I have heard the story too many times of the rookie who passed because he studied, but the veteran who failed because he thought he knew it all.

Pick the best answer: The tests are all multiple choice, and even if you know of cases where more than one answer could apply, pick the most likely answer. Don’t waste time arguing with the test; just pick the best answer and move on.

Finally, understand that the Parts Specialist test is not a watered-down version of the technician tests. In fact, ASE rates the Parts Specialist tests as its most difficult. Sure, technicians may need a greater knowledge of, say, the ignition system than the counterperson does, but they can study that one system and write a test on that one system. The counterperson can’t pick and choose. He needs to understand more than a dozen automotive systems, along with sales skills, cataloguing skills, and inventory management knowledge.

If you’re planning to take a test this Spring, you need to have well-rounded knowledge and experience. Know all you can and be prepared to put common sense to use.

Then prepare to be challenged.

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