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Lean Certification


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Exam Preparation Tips

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

Start your preparation early

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

  • Read the Core Reference Materials that serve as sources for the questions you will find on the Lean Certification exam.
  • Review the Lean Certification Body of Knowledge (PDF) outline. Get a feel for the different topics covered in the exam and look at the weighting of questions for Bronze, Silver, and Gold. This is key to the areas and concepts that are most likely to appear on the exam.
  • Review the Blueprint and Essential Body of work for the certification you are achieving. You can find these at

The Blueprint provides additional information beyond the Body of Knowledge by providing additional details on the proficiency expected. The Essential Body of Work describes the baseline knowledge, skills, and abilities required by lean professionals and lays the groundwork for understanding and evaluating the certification requirements.

This is an open book and open notes exam

  • You can bring your Core Reference Materials into the exam room. Sharing of books, notes, and other materials during the exam is not permitted.
  • 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 (PDF) weightings

Multiple-choice questions

There are three different types of multiple-choice questions on the exam covering topics from the Body of Knowledge (PDF). 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 lean, 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

  • 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

  • Each question will display an outline number (rubric number) that ties it to the Body of Knowledge (PDF) 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 (PDF).
  • The paper/pencil exam questions are in the order of the Body of Knowledge (PDF).
  • The on-line version is randomly ordered.

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 Core Reference Materials, you will need several #2 sharpened pencils, an eraser, and a simple calculator.
  • Programmable calculators, cell phones, and other electronic devices are not allowed at the exam site.
  • If you are taking the exam online, have a pencil, calculator, and scratch pad handy.

You don’t have to learn Japanese

Not sure what the difference is between Heijunka and Kaikaku? Fear not, whenever a Japanese term is used in an exam question, you will always see the English translation.

Questions about case studies

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 Core Reference Materials.

Draw upon what you already know

  • Some questions may appear perplexing when you first look at the question or the four answer choices.
  • Step back from the words on the page and think more broadly about lean and what you know from your experiences — the point of the question or the intent of the answer set may become clearer.
  • Do not forget what you already know just because you are sitting in an exam seat.

You need 75% to pass

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. 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.