Going into a mechanic career requires hard work and the ability to learn many different skills. But the work isn’t over just because you’re finished with automotive tech school. The best automotive technician jobs typically go to those who become ASE certified in at least one area. Becoming a Master Technician is a great way to increase your income and make your resume shine.
Testing and certification of Master Technicians is administered by the NIASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence). They offer more than 40 different certifications, in a variety of generalized and specialty areas of knowledge. L1 is the exam to become an Advanced Engine Performance Specialist, which is a technician who is able to diagnose complex drivability and emissions issues in cars, SUVs, and light trucks. In order to become L1 certified you must first have passed the A8 Automobile Engine Performance test.
The topics covered in the L1 exam include:
- General power-train
- Computerized power-train controls (including OBD II)
- Ignition systems
- Fuel and air induction systems
- Emission control systems
- I/M test failures
There are plenty of resources available online to help you prepare, including L1 study guides and practice tests.
The ASE website
The NIASE provides study guides free of charge, covering the material for every test they offer. These guides are available through links to downloadable PDF files from the Test Prep & Training page. In order to be thoroughly prepared, you need to also download the Composite Vehicle Type 4 Reference Booklet, which is a study guide to be used prior to and during the test. This booklet deals with information on the composite drivetrain control system which is referred to in questions on the exam.
You may also access an L1 practice test from the ASE website, along with practice versions of every other exam, at a cost of $14.95 each (for the first one or two), and slightly less after that if you wish to access more. The practice tests are administered online and work on a voucher system – you will purchase a voucher, which unlocks a code, and you then use this code on whichever test you wish to take. There is just one version of each practice test.
The practice version is half the length of the actual test, and you will receive a performance report afterward, telling you which questions you got wrong and which you got right.
There are aftermarket websites and programs offering ASE study guides and practice tests, as you will quickly find out when you start looking for L1 study guides. The NIASE does recommend using a mix of methods to prepare; however, they don’t review or endorse any specific aftermarket program. For information purposes, they do maintain a list of companies on the ASE website. Research your options carefully to be sure you’re getting a reputable program with accurate study information.
Taking the test
Once you’ve prepared as thoroughly as you can, you’ll be able to schedule a day to take the real exam. The NIASE website provides information on finding testing locations and setting up your testing day when it’s convenient for you. Year-round dates are offered, including weekends. All ASE testing is now computer based, as the institute has discontinued written testing as of 2012.
The L1 Advanced Engine Performance Specialist exam consists of 50 scored multiple choice questions, in addition to 10 or more questions which are used for statistical purposes only. These extra, unscored questions are not marked as such, so you won’t know which are scored and which aren’t. You will need to answer each one to the best of your ability.
The NIASE recommends not scheduling any other testing for the day you take the L1, due to the complexity of the topic. Getting your L1 certification will help you advance your auto tech career, while giving you the satisfaction of knowing your skill level is up to par.
If you’re already a certified mechanic and you’re interested in working with YourMechanic, submit an online application for an opportunity to become a mobile mechanic.