FAQs on the knowledge exam – https://www.incose.org/systems-engineering-certification/certification-faqs

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FAQs

Answer
1 How long does the exam last? The standard time is 2 hours, but if English is not your first language, or you have special needs, you may ask INCOSE for an additional 30 minutes. You would need to complete the INCOSE certification Special Accommodations form. The “Special Accommodations Form” can be found here.
2 Where do I have to go to take the exam? The majority of exams are computer-based. These take place at “Prometric” facilities, which are quite well distributed around the world. Sometimes, INCOSE organizes sessions where people from a local geography can take a written exam.
3 May I take revision notes into the exam? No, you will have to leave all personal possessions in a locker before entering the exam room. You will, however, be given a sheet of paper and pencil(s), should you wish to do a “brain dump” during the familiarization time that is allowed before starting the test.
4 Do I have to answer the questions in the given order? No. There are helpful navigation tools that allow you to choose your own path. However, it may be helpful on the first pass to go through the questions in sequence.
5 What happens if I get stuck on a question? You can mark it for later review, move on to other questions, and re-visit it later if you have time.
6 What happens if I change my mind on the answer? At any time during the exam you can re-visit questions and change your answer. Your selections are not finalized until you press “Submit” at the end of the test.
7 What happens if I have to leave the exam room for a little while? You may leave the room at any time, and return later, but the countdown timer will still be running.
8 How difficult are the questions? The answer to this is intangible, and it depends on understanding INCOSE’s process of creating questions. The questions are carefully designed to discriminate between those who can demonstrate the knowledge, and those who can’t. The questions are methodically reviewed by an experienced panel. There are no trick questions!
9 Do I need to memorize the book in order to pass? No. In fact, INCOSE’s stated intent is that experienced systems engineers should be able to pass, even if they haven’t seen the handbook. Nevertheless, the questions are all written around the language of the book, and with reference to the process diagrams in the book. So being familiar with the book will help you to answer questions quickly and with confidence. Most questions include an element of understanding of the principles, in which case memorization only will not be enough.
10 To what extent will my practical experience help with getting the right answers? Practical experience will be especially helpful when the question hinges on the understanding of first principles, and where you are indecisive choosing between two very similar answers.

During your revision period, your practical experience will help you because linking theory to practice is an important aspect of adult learning.

11 What should I do if I don’t agree with the handbook content?
  1. “Suspend your disbelief” – all correct answers trace to text in the handbook.
  2. Use Appendix G of the handbook to submit feedback to the authors; the handbook evolves and depends on feedback for its continual improvement.
12 What are the most important things to learn in order to pass the exam? CTI’s suggested shortlist:

  • The overall structure of the process set;
  • The name and purpose statement for each process;
  • The activities for each process;
  • The most significant inputs and outputs for each process;
  • The predominant connections between processes via inputs and outputs;
  • Bullet points and lists within the text of each process description.
13 How many attempts can I have? You are allowed up to three attempts through Prometric for a period of 12 months starting from date of payment for your SEP application. Each attempt will require you to pay another fee to Prometric.
14 If I am not successful, will I get any feedback? If you take the computer-based test, and are not successful, you will get a fairly high-level summary of which sections of the book need more attention on a future attempt. CTI understands that this is not the case for a written exam.
15 Will I be penalized for an incorrect answer? No. So if you have some tricky questions left over at the end, put down your “best guess”.
16 If (for example) I get two out of three answers correct for a question, will I get a partial mark? No. Anything less than the required number of correct answers scores zero.
17 What kind of questions are on the examination? The certification examination questions are currently multiple-choice questions. All correct answers must be selected from the possible answers given to receive credit for answering a question. A typical question may have five possible answers listed of which three are correct. Partial credit is not given for a question.
18 Is it obvious how many answers are needed for each question? Yes. The question structure enforces a standard way of making this clear. If there are multiple answers it will say (choose x). Part of the review process should be used to ensure this has been achieved.
19 Can I get access to previous exam questions? No. Those taking the exam are required to sign a form that commits them never to disclose details of the questions presented.
20 What’s the pass mark? INCOSE deliberately does not comment on the pass mark.
21 Do I have to take the test in English? CTI understands that, apart from Germany, which has special agreements with INCOSE, all exams are at present given in English. If English is not your first language, you may request an additional 30 minutes of test time. (see question 1.)
22 Which part of the book attracts most questions? It is safe to say that the majority of questions will concern Chapters 4 to 7, but you should also expect some questions around the outer chapters.