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Exam Preparation Tips


No matter what the circumstances, taking an exam always seems to bring some level of anxiety. Below are tips to help you prepare.

Start your preparation early

Don’t wait until the week before. Allow a few months to prepare for the exam.


This is an open book and open notes exam

  • You can bring your recommended reading materials into the exam room. Sharing of books, notes, and other materials during the exam is not permitted.
  • For the Certified Manufacturing Technologist, Certified Manufacturing Engineer, and Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals exams only, you can bring the eBook format of the recommended review books. For online exams, the eBook(s) must be on a different device than the device on which you are taking your exam.
  • Tab sections of your books/materials to make it easier to find information during the exam. You will not have time to look up every answer, so be thoughtful about what you want to access quickly and easily.
  • Some key areas you might want to tab/identify include:
    • Glossaries, Indexes, Tables, Concepts, and Formulas
    • Topics that you think have a high probability of being on the exam based on the Body of Knowledge weightings for the exam that you are taking.

Multiple-choice questions

There are three different types of multiple-choice questions on the exam covering topics from the certification/certificate’s Body of Knowledge. Questions will fall into the categories below with the majority being knowledge questions, some application questions, and a few judgment questions:

  • Knowledge: Fact-based questions such as “What does the first “S” in a 5S program refer to?”
  • Application: Questions where you have to apply knowledge, such as calculating takt time when given work hours and demand information.
  • Judgment: Questions where you have to use your judgment to select the best answer, such as “Which of the following would you expect to see in a company that has done a great job with set-up reduction?”

Know your takt time (Lean Certification)

  • The Bronze exam consists of approximately 165 questions and must be completed in three hours or less. That means you have a takt time of 62.79 seconds, or just over 1 minute, per question.
  • If you take the online version of the exam, your remaining time will always appear on your screen.
  • If you take the paper/pencil version, your proctor will give you some intermittent cues to remind you how much time you have remaining.

Use the rubric number to your advantage (Lean Certification)

  • Each question will display an outline number (rubric number) that ties it to the Body of Knowledge section the question covers. Use this to think what the question is about or what are they trying to get at by asking this. For example, if a question has a rubric number of 1.2.1, that tells us it has something to do with Planning and Deployment, under section 1.2 Processes for Cultural Enablers in the Body of Knowledge.
  • The paper/pencil exam questions are in the order of the Body of Knowledge.
  • The on-line version is randomly ordered.

Helpful link: Body of Knowledge (PDF)

Mark only one answer

There is no penalty for guessing on the exam. You have a 25% chance of getting the correct answer if you guess. Often you can eliminate one or more of the four answer choices when you review the question.

Answer questions you know first

  • Move through the first pass of the exam quickly and leave those you want to look up or come back to later.
  • During the online exam, you can check a box to mark the question(s) you would like to revisit. At the end, you will be prompted to look at your marked questions and then you can review and/or change answers choices at that time. You are also able to return to unmarked questions.
  • For the paper/pencil exam, you are allowed to write in your exam booklet to mark questions you want to revisit.

Arrive prepared

  • The night before the exam try to get six to eight hours of sleep.
  • Arrive to the exam site 15 minutes early to allow time to check in and arrange your materials on the desk. This avoids unnecessary noise during the exam by rummaging through book bags.
  • If you are taking the paper/pencil exam, in addition to your recommended review books, you will need several #2 sharpened pencils, an eraser, and a simple calculator.
  • With the exception of a device used for eBooks (CMfgT, CMfgE and the Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals only), the use of iPhones®, smart phones, mobile devices, cellular phones, wrist watches with calculators, smart watches, devices that can record data, and similar technology is not allowed during the session.
  • For CMfgT and CMfgE only, you may bring a quiet, hand-held, and non-broadcasting or receiving calculator. You MUST clear all programmable memory from the calculator before you begin and after you complete the exam.
  • If you are taking the exam online, have a pencil and paper handy.
    • Use of the Internet to search for answers is strictly prohibited during the exam and will result in your exam being terminated.

Questions about case studies (Lean Certification)

The only company that you might see specific questions about on the exam is Toyota. Do not worry about memorizing case studies that are in the Lean Certification Core Reference Materials.

Helpful link: Core Reference Materials

Scores to Pass

To pass the CMfgT and CMfgE exam, you will need to score 60% or higher.

To pass the Lean Certification exam, you will need to score 75% or higher. Keep in mind that passing the exam is the first step toward submitting your experience portfolio and becoming certified.

To pass the Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification exam, you will need to score 70% or higher.

Unless authorized to do so, exam scores will only be provided to you. There is no need to retake the exam if you pass.

Good Luck! If you have any questions about preparing for the exam email us or call SME Customer Care at 800.733.4763.