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  • What does certification denial look like?

    by Courtney Wright | Mar 25, 2022
    The INCOSE Certification Program may send a denial letter (via email attachment) to a CSEP or ESEP candidate who does not pass the experience or leadership reviews, respectively. This letter comes from the INCOSE Certification Program Manager. Generally, this letter comes after the candidate has been given a chance to update their application materials to address specific shortfalls. 

    INCOSE does not send a denial letter for a candidate who has failed to pass the knowledge exam (for ASEP or CSEP) or who has not responded to a request for additional information. 
  • How does exam scoring work?

    by Courtney Wright | Mar 18, 2022
    Every candidate who takes the INCOSE knowledge exam is given 100 questions that are scored. Some candidates take an exam with 120 or 150 questions. Those extra questions are not scored but are being offered so that INCOSE can decide whether to use them in the future.

    Every candidate is given questions about the INCOSE Knowledge Exam Learning Objectives. In fact, every candidate is given the same number of questions about each learning objective (LO). INCOSE does not publish how many questions are asked for each LO, but it will be not vary across exam publications.

    Every exam version has the same difficulty level. Not every exam question is equally difficult, so not every exam version has the same passing score. A more challenging collection of questions will allow passing at a lower score.

    Every correct answer must be chosen for a question to be scored as correct. There is no partial credit. There is no penalty for guessing beyond not earning the credit if the guess is wrong.

    Every exam is monitored, either by an in-room proctor or a remote one. If the proctor has a concern during the exam, they may allow a candidate to continue testing so as not to disrupt the other candidates. INCOSE and its proctors reserve the right to notify a candidate after the exam is completed that he or she will not receive a score on the exam due to suspected cheating. 
  • How can I pass the knowledge exam?

    by Courtney Wright | Mar 11, 2022
    The INCOSE knowledge exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions based on the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook. (You may get an extra 20 or 50 beta questions, depending on the version of the exam you are taking. They are not scored, but you will not be told which questions they are.) To be successful on the exam, you should:

    1. Have proper ID and facility for the exam. You can't pass if you aren't allowed to take the exam! Review the requirements for your in-person or online exam.

    2. Understand the format of the questions. Many of them will have more than one correct answer, and you must choose all the correct answers to get the questions right. You can read more about this exam format in this paper from 2015

    3. Know the content of the INCOSE SE Handbook. All questions come from this handbook. Many candidates who fail the first attempt but pass a later attempt admit that they had not read the handbook thoroughly the first time. Most successful candidates report reading the handbook multiple times, taking notes or flash cards, and writing their own diagrams or sample exam questions. 

    4. Take it more than once. You are allowed to take the exam up to 3 times every 12 months. You will have to pay for each attempt. Consider taking it once for practice, then studying, then taking it again. This is probably the most time-efficient way to succeed on the exam.
  • How can I reschedule my online exam appointment?

    by Courtney Wright | Mar 04, 2022
    When you schedule an online exam, you will receive a confirmation email from the exam provider. This email, which comes from donotreply@examity.org, links to detailed instructions about Preparing For and Taking Your Exam. At that site, you are instructed as follows if you need to reschedule or cancel:

    1. Login to ‘CMS TESTWise’ (https://delivery.itemexperts.com).
    2. Click either the "Reschedule exam" or "Cancel exam" button. 
    3. Follow instructions on screen.

    You will be charged $5 if you cancel or reschedule within 24 hours of your exam appointment.
  • How do I register for the INCOSE knowledge exam?

    by Courtney Wright | Feb 25, 2022
    Taking the INCOSE knowledge exam is the first step most candidates take toward ASEP and CSEP certification. The exam can be taken on paper or on the computer. Paper exams are hosted by INCOSE chapters, at INCOSE events, or at universities, and they are proctored by INCOSE CSEPs and ESEPs. Learn more about hosting a paper exam for a group of candidates here

    All individuals who apply for ASEP or CSEP are automatically registered to take the online exam. Those who have not yet applied can register to take the online exam here. They will then be allowed to schedule a specific time and date for the exam, and they will be required to pay the exam fee.
  • Webinars about INCOSE Certification

    by Courtney Wright | Feb 18, 2022
    On February 16, 2022, INCOSE's current intern presented a webinar about the Academic Equivalency Program. This is a great source of information and can be accessed by all INCOSE members and CAB associates at the Webinar library. Webinars relevant to INCOSE certification are:

    156 The Outcomes of Academic Equivalency to INCOSE Certification
    146 Internet-Based Testing for Students and Professionals
    141 Trends in Continuing Education for INCOSE SE Professionals
    139 Fundamentals of INCOSE Certification
    137 Paths to INCOSE Certification
    103 Squaring the Circle: Aligning INCOSE SEP Experience Areas to the INCOSE SE Handbook and INCOSE Competency Framework
    063 How Do You Recognize an Expert Systems Engineering Professional?
    059 INCOSE Certification Program History and Plans for 2014
    041 An Overview of INCOSE Professional Certification
    020 An Update on INCOSE Professional Certification and the New Expert Systems Engineering Professional (ESEP) Designation
    002 INCOSE Professional Certification Program

    Note that these webinars are listed in newest-to-oldest order, and content in the older presentations may be outdated.
  • Spokesperson for the Certification Program

    by Courtney Wright | Feb 11, 2022

    Would you like to be an unofficial spokesperson for INCOSE’s Certification Program? We would love to have you. 

    There are several presentations posted on this page. We recommend you choose and pare it down for your audience. You can also pull information from the INCOSE web pages and create your own presentation materials. And, please, send us a copy if you think they’d be useful for others. 

    If you do share information about the Certification Program, please remember that content of exam items and interview questions should NOT be shared. This restriction protects both INCOSE and you. It saves INCOSE from having to create a bigger set of questions such that we can rotate them out enough to keep people on their toes if they’ve already heard some of the questions. And it saves you from the anger of the applicant who studies for the questions you told them, then discovers that we actually do have a big enough question bank that it’s likely he or she will get different questions than you got. 

    You are welcome to share a copy of your application with a colleague so that he or she can see the formatting and level of detail expected. However, do not share if you feel your colleague will be tempted to copy the text directly. This would be an ethical violation and could result in problems for both of you. 

    Finally, if someone shares information about the Certification Program with you, consider the source. If you find a conflict between what someone tells you and the INCOSE website, ask the person how they know. INCOSE does not monitor or endorse training providers, so you’d be doing all parties a favor if you informed the person of the conflict. If confusion remains, contact the Admin Office for clarification.

  • Meet our fourth intern, Morenikeji Araloyin

    by Courtney Wright | Feb 04, 2022
    MAraloyinMorenikeji Araloyin is INCOSE's current intern. He will be delivering a webinar on 16 February 2021 about the outcomes of three years of INCOSE Academic Equivalency programs. He has also been reviewing data about past SEP applications and continued certification, with a goal of identifying underrepresented groups and proposing ways to better connect with them.

    The following questions are from an interview with Morenikeji in January 2022, during his internship:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    I'm currently INCOSE's Certification Program intern. In my role as an intern, I support the Program Manager to identify areas of opportunity for process improvement and potential solutions. This experience is very impactful one for me, and I could not have asked for a better internship experience to build a foundation for my systems engineering career.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    I am proud to have received a Systems Engineering master's degree this past Fall as SE career has always been my high professional priority. I am most proud to have gained skills to develop and manage large-scale complex systems.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    The misconception about what is systems engineering is a huge challenge; Many people have their own interpretation of systems engineering. If you tell someone that you are a systems engineer, they most probably think that you are a systems administrator.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    To not get stuck with their definition of SE. SE is a rewarding career and opportunity to network and build lasting professional connections with systems thinkers. Go the extra mile to reach out and form relationships with experienced systems engineer both within and outside their organization.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    I have been INCOSE member since 2020, and I think the SE Handbook is an important resource to have at home, even though you've aced the knowledge exam and certified. So, I'm looking forward to the 5th Edition that will be released later this year. I also plan to get more involved with my local INCOSE chapter, North Star.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    A few of my future goals include becoming an ASEP. I'm also excited about the prospect of working in my first SE role while I work towards my PhD. My longer-term goals are to learn a variety of areas within the systems engineering field and work towards becoming an ESEP one day.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    I enjoy playing soccer a lot, and because I live in the Arctic Minnesota, outdoor soccer is near impossible during winter. So, I have developed other interest like ice fishing.

    Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I decided to get the SEP certification not just because of its growing need in job market, but because of the value of the certification. SEP certification helps increase your knowledge in systems engineering principles and guides you in applying these principles in real world complex projects. In other word, it is all about INCOSE clear definition of systems engineering.

    Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    I am preparing for the knowledge exam; however, SEP certification add knowledge and skills to your experience. And in the current world of competition, SEP certification can be a game changer for career growth. More hiring managers these days prefer a systems engineer with INCOSE certification than those without.

    Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    The growing need for systems engineering principles across all domains, in particular the healthcare and public policy. People are starting to appreciate systems approach as our society become increasingly complex.

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Quality Assurance Engineer

  • Ace the class, skip the exam

    by Courtney Wright | Jan 28, 2022
    Why should you care if your university has an Academic Equivalency program? It may allow you to bypass the INCOSE knowledge exam on the path to certification as an Associate Systems Engineering Professional (ASEP) or Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP). 

    At the end of each academic term, universities with Academic Equivalency programs send us a list of the students who did well in the required courses. Those students then have 12 months to apply for ASEP and CSEP using that knowledge equivalency. INCOSE counts the university assessments as sufficient verification of knowledge to replace the multiple-choice test that we offer. 

    Even if you're not a full-time university student, an Academic Equivalency program might help you out. If you're nervous about taking the INCOSE knowledge exam, you might prefer taking a university course that teaches you more about systems engineering and assesses you in lower-pressure ways than INCOSE's exam. Some universities offer Academic Equivalency through just a single, online course. You also might find a course offered in a language other than English. The INCOSE knowledge exam is only offered in English, but Academic Equivalency courses may be offered in any language. 
  • It's not what you teach, it's what you assess

    by Courtney Wright | Jan 21, 2022
    The title of this blog is a statement I make to every professor who asks me about Academic Equivalency. Unlike the dean, your colleagues, your students, and their future employers, I don't care what you lecture about. I don't need to know if you explain the difference between verification and validation, or if you expect your students to know that already. What I care about is whether you assess their knowledge.

    I also don't have a strong preference on how you verify their knowledge. I hope you verify their knowledge in a way that is customized to their domain knowledge, giving them project assignments relevant to their past or future work. I hope you assess them in a language used commonly in their community, not necessarily English. We already have a generic, English-language assessment of systems engineers' general knowledge of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook. That assessment is our INCOSE knowledge exam. We created the Academic Equivalency (AcEq) Program so that you can bring us alternate assessment methods. 

    The process of a university professor applying for AcEq is that he or she starts with our INCOSE list of learning objects used for our knowledge exam. The professor then tells us which class activities assess against those same objectives. If we agree that the classroom assessments are sufficient, we approve the equivalency. 

    There are some administrative hoops to jump through, too. We give more details and a link to the application form at the main page describing Academic Equivalencies: https://www.incose.org/systems-engineering-certification/certification-agreements/equivalency-programs
  • 2022: The Year of the Student

    by Courtney Wright | Jan 14, 2022
    INCOSE has a few special opportunities for students. Our next post will be about the most exciting one - Academic Equivalency - but this week we'll note other ways INCOSE helps students. 

    1. Student membership - full-time or nearly-full-time students are eligible for a discounted rate on INCOSE membership. 
    2. Student divisions - in addition to joining INCOSE chapters and working groups, university students may form their own clubs that have a special relationship with INCOSE.
    3. Systems Engineering honor society, Sigma Theta Mu - here's a way to distinguish yourself if you know during your student days that you want to be a superstar systems engineer.
    4. Student rates for event registration 
    5. Take the INCOSE knowledge exam for free at your university or a chapter-hosted in-person exam.
    7. CAB Associate access to INCOSE materials if your university is a part of the INCOSE Corporate Advisory Board's Academic Council
  • Ordering SEP Logo Items

    by Courtney Wright | Jan 07, 2022
    INCOSE has shared the SEP logos with Lands End, a US-based provider of clothing and home goods. If you would like an ESEP polo, a CSEP fleece jacket, or an ASEP backpack, you are likely to find something you like at the Lands End Store. 
  • Using the SEP logos

    by Courtney Wright | Dec 31, 2021
    INCOSE SEPs are allowed to use the logo for their certification - ASEP, CSEP, or ESEP - while they are actively certified. They may use this logo on business cards, in their email signature, or in other ways that recognize them as a certified individual. The INCOSE SEP logos may not be used in advertising a business. Training provider companies that prepare individuals for the INCOSE knowledge exam may not use the SEP logo in their advertising or training materials, except for things like a screenshot of the INCOSE website or listing the credentials of individual employees. Organizational use of the SEP logos requires INCOSE pre-approval, and has been granted for things like custom mugs given to new SEPs.

    The INCOSE SEP logo policy CRT-100 is here: https://www.incose.org/docs/default-source/certification/sep-logo-guidance.pdf?sfvrsn=1107b5c6_0
  • 'Twas the Night Before CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Dec 24, 2021
    Sheryl Gunn wrote this poem about her experience preparing for the INCOSE knowledge exam. I hope if brings as much joy to you as it did to me.

    'Twas the night before CSEP when all through the house,
    Not a creature was stirring, not even her spouse.

    Her study materials were laid out with great care,
    One last look in the morning would help her to fare.

    The dawn of that day had come soon enough,
    For one thing was certain, the test would be tough.

    Visions of context diagrams danced through her head,
    Wishing a few times she’d just stayed in bed!

    With excitement and panic, she entered the room,
    With thoughts of stray tenets like “from womb to tomb”.

    When the questions were answered, she must wait to know...
    The result of her test, a go or no-go.

    When the word finally came, she gave out a sigh,
    She shouted “I PASSED”… no need to be shy!

    The certificate hung on her wall to proclaim,
    Yet two things are missing, a mat and a frame.

    ‘Tis the end of this tale. Hope I’ve told it just right.
    Happy CSEP to all and to all a good night! 

  • Providing a Reference for a SEP

    by Courtney Wright | Dec 17, 2021
    One of the characteristics of a good requirement is that it be verifiable. References provide the verification of experience claims from systems engineering professional applicants.

    The characteristics to look for in a reference are:
    * They have at least five years of work experience.
    * They knew the applicant when the systems engineering work was being done, and were aware of the work.
    * They understand systems engineering well enough to recognize and describe it.
    * They will fill out and submit paperwork in the INCOSE format, during the required timeframe.

    If you have been asked to provide a reference for a candidate for CSEP or ESEP, your first step is to get a copy of the Reference Form 4B. This is the only document INCOSE will accept from references. 

    Your next step is to ask the candidate to give you their contact information for the form. They may also give you a copy of their application form, though that is not required. It can be helpful to you to see what they wrote about the time you worked together. You are allowed to copy that text into your submission. You must also use some of your own words. 

    You will submit your reference directly to INCOSE. You are not required to give a copy to the candidate, but you may do that if you choose. 
  • What is INCOSE Certification's relationship with SESA?

    by Courtney Wright | Dec 17, 2021
    The Systems Engineering Society of Australia (SESA) is a technical society within Engineers Australia and is also the INCOSE chapter within Australia. Candidates for CSEP and ESEP in Australia may apply through SESA and have their applications reviewed by Certification Application Reviewers within Australia. 

    Candidates who already have their Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) have a streamlined path to CSEP through the Chartered Australian Systems Engineering (CASE) path. These individuals have reduced application documentation and references compared to those who apply directly for CSEP. 

    https://www.sesa.org.au/certifications/
  • What is it like for a student who qualifies for academic equivalency?

    by Courtney Wright | Dec 10, 2021
    Once a set of university courses is approved for academic equivalency, students who do well in that coursework may apply for ASEP and CSEP certification without having to take the INCOSE knowledge exam. Academic equivalency is an alternate way to meet the knowledge requirement for these two certification levels.

    A student whose name is submitted to INCOSE as having qualified via academic equivalency is recorded in the INCOSE certification database. That student has 12 months to apply for ASEP or CSEP certification and use their knowledge equivalent. This application process starts with joining INCOSE as an individual or student member, then paying the application fee. These are the only steps required for ASEP. CSEP applicants will also submit individual application forms, proof of education, and references.
  • What is the INCOSE UK path to Certification?

    by Courtney Wright | Dec 03, 2021
    Members of INCOSE's UK chapter may apply for INCOSE Certification through the INCOSE UK chapter or through INCOSE Central. When they apply through the INCOSE UK chapter, they complete their individual application and references through an online form. The review of their application is also completed by Certification Application Reviewers from the INCOSE UK chapter. Notification of certification approval is delivered from the INCOSE UK chapter. 

    Individuals certified through the INCOSE UK path renew their certification through the standard earning of Professional Development Units (PDUs).  

    More about INCOSE UK Certification 
  • What is INCOSE Certification's relationship with OMG?

    by Courtney Wright | Nov 26, 2021
    The Object Management Group (OMG) created its OCSMP certifications in coordination with INCOSE. To encourage individuals to get both certifications, the programs offer a discount. Applicants who already have one certification should notify the other organization of that status when they apply. They will then get a 10% on the application fee (INCOSE) or exam fee (OMG) for the second certification. 

    https://www.omg.org/incose-omg-mutualrecog/
  • What is INCOSE Certification's relationship with SEZERT?

    by Courtney Wright | Nov 19, 2021
    INCOSE's German chapter, Gesellschaft für Systems Engineering (GfSE), developed the SE-ZERT Certification. SE-ZERT has three levels, each of which roughly corresponds to a level of INCOSE's Certification Program.

    Individuals who earn an SE-ZERT Level C Certification from GfSE may apply for INCOSE ASEP certification without having to retake the INCOSE knowledge exam. They will have to meet the other requirements for ASEP, being individual members of INCOSE and paying the ASEP application fee. 

    Individuals who earn an SE-ZERT Level B Certification from GfSE may apply for INCOSE CSEP certification without having to retake the INCOSE knowledge exam or submit education, experience or reference materials. They will have to meet the administrative requirements for CSEP, being individual members of INCOSE and paying the CSEP application fee.

    Once they become ASEPs or CSEPs, all individuals will have to renew their certification through standard methods. 

    The relationship between INCOSE's Certification Program and SEZERT extends back to 2013, when it was INCOSE's first equivalency.