In February, I attended the ASE P2 test-writing workshop in Leesburg, Virginia, with about a dozen other automotive parts specialists and subject-matter experts representing nearly every major distributor in the country. There were folks from O’Reilly, AutoZone, NAPA, Bumper to Bumper, Advance/Carquest and more.
I’ve never been to an ASE workshop, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised with the experience overall. I wouldn’t call it jury duty, but when I received the invite to participate, it was a call to duty. Counterman Editor Josh Cable asked me to attend, since I’ve been writing the test questions for the magazine’s P2 Test Prep section the past few years. I also want to acknowledge my predecessor, Larry Carley, and former Counterman Editor Gary Molinaro, both of whom played vital roles in helping the P2 test become what it is today.
ASE uses stem questions that are methodically tracked to produce the most consistent correct answers above 50%. It’s all very scientific, and they have the data to back up each question and how it performs before it’s ever put on a real test. If a question performs poorly, the group studies it and discusses it in workshops such as this one. If the question can’t be fixed, it is set aside for more refinement or discarded altogether.
One thing to note about the Parts Specialist certification is that the questions cover a wider range of topics than any other test ASE produces. A parts specialist is tasked with having proficient knowledge about nearly every vehicle system, and you also are expected to provide excellent customer service in addition to being a proficient sales professional.
According to Dave Milne, assistant vice president, traditional testing programs for ASE, there are 75 questions on the P2 test, with 53% focusing on vehicle-systems knowledge and another 15% for customer relations and sales skills. Milne, along with his colleague, Dan Baumhardt, director of light-vehicle test development, led the workshop and helped guide the participants, eight of whom were there for the first time.
Being in the D.C. area, it felt like a legislative process putting each question through rigorous scrutiny from the panel of subject-matter experts. The perspectives on the topics and industry, in general, were not only impressive, but also quite insightful for me to learn more about how you handle your day-to-day job duties. Rest assured, the industry is in good hands, and one day some of you also might get a chance to help this industry in an ASE test-writing workshop.