Testing is a Tool

Testing is a Tool

Testing sure has become a lot easier with time.

I‘m not going to tell you when I took my first ASE test…I date myself enough as it is. But, I will tell you that for a long time, you could only take them quarterly, and you had to register way in advance.

In my area, the tests were usually held at a local college or career center, and it was a different undertaking than today. There weren’t too many different locations, so you sometimes had a 30- or 40-minute drive, and you didn’t want to forget your #2 pencils.

All I can say is it sure is a lot easier now, and last year the release of the new ASE renewal app seemed like it would be the icing on the cake. Since my certifications were expiring mid-2023, I decided to try it out. One of the advertising points of the new app was that you could learn and stay current with new technology while earning an extension of your certification.

I wasn’t sure how it would all come together, but once I purchased the app and got going on the tests, I realized the value in it. My first impression was that the questions were harder. Technology has been changing fast, evidently faster than I’ve been able to keep up with. Talking about it is one thing. Knowing it on a diagnostic level is another. So, as you can imagine, I’ve gotten some answers wrong.

A frustration I’ve had in the past is knowing my score, but not knowing which specific questions I got wrong, so I wasn’t able to “learn” from my mistakes. Compared to the traditional ASE test, what differs drastically with the renewal app is when you get a question wrong, you see why right away, and you get an explanation of both the right and wrong answers. You can also comment on the questions and see what other technicians have said.

So, when I miss a question on the app, I have one of two reactions. I’m either mad at myself because I realize I made a stupid mistake by not reading the question carefully enough, or I admit I just didn’t know enough about the subject matter.

Not only does having the explanation of answers help you understand an incorrect one, but to promote additional learning, you receive a second-chance question related to the same subject matter. This gives you time to research and study. For me, it’s been everything they promised, and it’s been one of the most useful tools I’ve used lately. You can’t learn until you discover what you don’t know.

Every technician who has taken ASE tests knows there’s always discrepancy over some of the questions. You may not always agree with how they are worded, and that’s still the case with the app. But, I must point out that when I really concentrate on the explanations over the ones I’ve missed, I honestly feel that the correct answer according to ASE, was indeed the best answer. And, that’s what they always say, Choose the “best” answer. Are some of them tricky and elusive? Maybe. But, so are cars and so can be the diagnosis of any problem. I’d rather get practice of a diagnostic mindset on one of these tests, than getting burned on a job! TS

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The Human Connection

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A couple months ago, I wrote about experiencing self-checkouts for the first time in an auto parts store. Okay, I’ll be honest, it gave me the opportunity to poke fun and complain about self-checkouts in general, and who doesn’t like to do that?I liked the idea of it in this case, however, because it could save me a lot of time since I’m often just going in to grab something off the shelf. So, I was torn between the advantages of a self-checkout and my concern of people losing jobs to machines.Then, I had another experience at an auto parts store that was a reminder of just how important people are in the equation. It was business as normal, me just picking up a round of parts for the current project I was working on. I also needed to get a bag of floor dry, which I somehow didn’t see stacked by the door, so I asked the counterperson for it.They were able to ring up the floor dry on the bill without me lugging it over to the counter, that in itself a benefit of an actual person. I grabbed my stuff and left, and it wasn’t until I was halfway home that I discovered I had forgotten the bag of floor dry. I turned around and headed back to the store.When I pulled up, the gentleman who had helped me was working on the lot, putting a battery in someone’s car. I walked over to him and told him what had happened. He smiled and laughed and that was it. I walked in the front door, grabbed the bag of floor dry and went about my business.How would that have gone had there not been a person there? It’s not the first time that’s happened to me, and I’m sure many other people, too. How many times have you walked out of a grocery store and forgotten one of the bags? Nobody warns you or tells you, and you don’t figure it out until you’re home putting away the groceries. And, of course, it’s always the bag with the ice cream. Why couldn’t it have been the broccoli?Self-checkouts are designed with safeguards to prevent theft and they remind you to check under your cart. Cameras, sensors and detectors at the door keep people from making off with more valuable merchandise, but nothing is designed to tell you when you forget something.I’ve never had a problem at any store when this happens. Real people understand it. What’s a computer going to do? There’s no option for that. You can’t just walk in and take what you forgot. Imagine the future. The scanners at the door will pick up your driver’s license, then even if you make it out of the store without an alarm going off, some advanced lot-scanning camera from across the road will detect that your car sits twenty-thousandths of an inch lower, assume you stole something, and the police will be waiting for you when you get home.In the meantime, a local bank will get robbed and somehow the 12 different cameras inside the branch will get nothing more than a grainy fuzzball image of the perpetrator. Go figure. The human connection. I know what I prefer. TS

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