Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How to study for the new ACE exam

Does this sound like you:  You're thinking about applying to become an ACE and then you heard that the content is changing. Arrrgh!  What do I study now?

First ... relax. We think that you'll find the new exam content is not substantially different from the current exam content. What changed is a move to a more logical structure and one that has been validated by interviews with and survey responses from hundreds of pest management professionals across the United States.  Essentially, there are just four main areas now. They are (in no particular order):

  • Inspection and Identification (45% of the exam)
  • Monitoring (12% of the exam)
  • Selection and Implementation of Control Methods (28% of the exam)
  • Evaluation (15% of the exam)

Within each of these "domains" there are skills that a person should be able to competently perform if they are to become ACE certified. This is what you are going to test on. For example, under the Domain "Inspection and Identification", the skills needed are:
  • Inspect for evidence of pests
  • Inspect for conditions conducive to pests
  • Identify pests
  • Document and communicate findings of pest inspection and identification

Remember, the full content outline of what you need to study to pass the new ACE exam is on the ESA website. 

What pests are on the exam?
The structure for the new exam is that you'll find the pests covered are discussed within the Domains outlined above. In other words, you might find a question about bed bugs in a Monitoring question or an Evaluation question. But you would not find a question about bed bugs that does not relate to one of the 4 Domains. The pests covered are (in no particular order):

On the new content outline (found by following the hyperlinks above) you'll find these topics broken down further. The list of actual creatures covered is on the content outline in order of decreasing likelihood of occurrence on the exam. If an insect or arthropod is not listed it should not appear on the exam as the main subject of a question.

Regarding non-arthropod pests, you'll only find them on the exam to the extent that they intersect with entomology. In other words, though a competent PMP should know a lot about the biology of rats, the focus of the ACE program is going to be more on the fact that a rat can harbor a variety of pests and introduce them into the house.

Study Resources:
But you want a book, don't you?  Many of the current books that people have been using to study for the ACE will still be relevant. Of these, the Handbook of Household and Structural Insect Pests is perhaps one of the better tools. As of this writing, the full list of currently recommended study materials is this:
ESA is currently working on a single resource which will become the official study guide for the new ACE exam. No release date is yet known*. In the meantime, read the content outline, study the resources you have, and maybe attend an ACE Prep Course.

* This section of the post has been updated. The study guide which was originally expected to be ready by 2014 has been delayed.