The CRE exam
I never did like taking final exams in college as I viewed them as a four hours I would rather spend doing something (anything) else. An exam is a check of what you know about a topic or subject. We prepared for those exams by reading, studying, practicing working problems (doing homework) and trying to understand the key concepts, trends, themes, etc. Some of my classmates thought it was about how much they could stuff into short term memory, others though sleep deprivation had something to do with preparing for an exam.
Once I left school, I thought I was done with exams. Then I signed up for the CRE exam. This was a few years after taking the CQE so I had a pretty good idea of what I was doing. And, I understood the challenge the CRE exam posed.
I was working as a reliability engineer, had a strong understanding of statistics and thought having the certification would be a nice addition to my resume. It wasn’t necessary, it would not provide me fame or fortune, and it would be another long exam.
It was time to get ready to take the exam.
Steps to prepare for the CRE exam
I reviewed the requirements and signed up for the exam. Having a deadline provided the motivation to study.
Reviewing the body of knowledge revealed a few areas that I would have to understand better as at that time I had no experience with maintainability or availability. There were a few tools and statistical elements I hadn’t used very often if at all, those also made the growing list of topics to review.
Gathering my trusted references I worked an example exam, which further revealed a few areas to add to the study list. I also needed another reference or two.
I saw a CRE Prep course offered by my local ASQ section, so signed up for the 8 weeks of devoting Saturday mornings to working problems in class, and doing the homework each week. I probably solved 400 to 500 sample problems during that time. The course provided a little structure and set expectations and support to work the problems.
It was working the problems from across the body of knowledge that I learned what I did and didn’t know, plus learned my references very well. The Quality Council of Indiana CRE Primer was getting ragged around the edges, including more than one coffee stain. I still use that primer as a reference today as it is very practical and full of worked out examples.
The Last Results of Reliability Knowledge
The CRE certificate itself means that I passed the exam. It’s not that sheet of paper that is important though. It is the knowledge, confidence and experience from preparing for the exam that has the true value. There are very few reliability related tasks or problems that I cannot solve (sometimes we don’t like the answers – like very large sample sizes) and it was the combination of my experience and preparation that has continued to serve me today.
Learning is a good thing. And, even after achieving the CRE credentials, my desire and ability to learn continued.
How are you preparing for the exam? What advice do you have for others?