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Principles of Supervision DSST
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Free Principles of Supervision DSST Study Guide

Name of Exam: Principles of Supervision DSST

Number of Questions: Around 100 (varies)

Time Limit: 120 Minutes

ACE Recommended Passing Score: 400

Cost: $80 + Sitting Fee (Usually no more than $20) at your testing site. Military can take DSSTs for free with Tuition Assistance. Check with your Educational Officer!

Difficulty 1-5 : 1
(One being the easiest, and five being the hardest)

Exam Description:

The Principles of Supervision DSST covers the material normally learned in an Introduction to Management and Organization college class. You will be tested on your general knowledge of the roles of a supervisor and the operational and functional aspects of management.

Personal Thoughts:

As noted by the difficulty level I scored this one at, the Principles of Supervision DSST is one of the easiest DSST's you'll come across. The amount of overlap with the Principles of Management CLEP is also noteworthy, as studying for one will almost certainly prepare you to pass the other.

This exam has been refreshed in 2009, so beware when purchasing your study material. Make sure it applies to the updated version versus the old one. You can tell between the two because the new one is on the 400 scoring system. The old one still uses the double digits. I've attempted to ensure all recommended study material is for the updated version.

Exam breakdown:

Make sure you check out the Official Fact Sheet for this exam.

The Principles of Supervision DSST is broken down as follows:

60% Management Functions
20% Roles and Responsibilities of the Supervisor
20% Organizational Environment

Areas of Study

First I'm going to list some specific topics that you'll need to study. After that, I'll list some resources that covers the main areas listed above.

Though there are different versions of the Principles of Supervision DSST, you'll most likely see some of the following on your exam:

  • Theories of Leadership
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Hierarchy of Needs
  • Staffing
  • Delegation
  • Counseling
  • Labor Laws
  • Recruiting
  • Human Relations

This is not a comprehensive list of topics! I highly recommend (as always) signing up for InstantCert and running through their entire flashcard series as well as seeing the Specific Feedback section for this exam. They've had years to accumulate their information, and it shows.

Management Functions
(60% of the Principles of Supervision DSST)

  • Management - Let's get it out of the way right now. Just read the entire page and zone in on the key words. You'll see quite a bit of it later on down the list, but a little reinforcement won't kill you.
  • Planning - Just know the basics of what it is. Also pay attention to the terminology on this page. Know that a goal needs to be attainable (or realistic).
  • Organizing - Scroll down a bit and read up on the Delegation of Authority. Pay attention to Span of Control and the other terminology.
  • Leading - A good breakdown of terms though it's not very reader-friendly. I'd personally read through the entire page at least once. It has a good listing of the theorists and some of the more mainstream leadership types. Not an all-inclusive list, but enough to get you started.
  • Controlling -. Pay particular attention to the Process of Controlling.
  • Authority - Quick and to the point. Know the different types of authority listed here.
  • Decision making
  • Organization charts - Don't read too deeply. Most should already be familiar with an Org Chart, but for those who aren't this provides a good explanation of what they are and why they're used.
  • Leadership - Not a bad summation of such a broad topic.
  • Organizational structure - An important resource. Read the entire page and pay attention to the Structures listed (Functional, Divisional, Matrix).
  • Budgeting - I'd note the Budget Types, but otherwise just skim this section.
  • Problem solving - Once again, it's not something that you'll get quizzed on too deeply, but a brief skim should suffice.
  • Group dynamics and team functions - This is all project management knowledge, but I'd pay attention to Tuckman's theory and the five stages. If you haven't heard of it yet, it's good information to have for real life application.
  • Conflict resolution - Just know the different types of resolution (Confronting, Smoothing, Avoiding, etc)
  • Communication Management - Not really happy with this explanation of communication in management since it doesn't give examples, but it's the best I can find. Another, better, explanation of communication is here: Communication.
  • Change - I didn't get asked about this on my own Principles of Supervision DSST, but just in case here's a brief overview of managing change. Keep in mind this is different from Change Management which is a formalized process. There are many ways of doing that, but here's a quick overview of the reasoning behind that process.
  • Organizational theory - I would pay attention to the section of "Theories and models of organizational studies". Dedicate some time to reading each of those links. Probably overkill, but you may get a question or two on the real exam about these topics.
  • Historical aspects - A good timeline though I wouldn't bother memorizing dates. I would however remember the theorists and the theories like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Theory X and Theory Y, and the Hawthorne Studies.
  • Management theory and theorists - We've already seen this list of theories and the people behind them. Give them another quick read to make it stick. You'll probably be asked at least one or two questions about these on your Principles of Supervision DSST.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Supervisor
(20% of the Principles of Supervision DSST)

  • Management Levels, Skills, and Roles - You will need to know almost everything in this link. Read it all the way through, and then read it again. Pay particular attention to the Levels, Roles, and Skills. You'll be quizzed extensively on these subjects during the actual Principles of Supervision DSST.
  • Personnel administration
  • Human relations and motivation - Skim it now and learn the major players. We'll touch on it again later on.
  • Training and development
  • Performance appraisals - You'll need to know this as you'll probably see at least one or two questions on the exam covering the subject.
  • Organizational development - A brief read should suffice. Just know that it deals with improving the entire organization.
  • Recruiting and selecting - This touches on the legal concerns again, but also gives you a rough idea of the hiring process. Should be pretty intuitive for most people who have held a job and gone through the process already.
  • Compensation and benefits - Pretty simple stuff here for most people, but you may want to pay attention to the Compensation link. If you scroll down a bit you'll see a list of definitions including Job Descriptions, Analysis, etc. Good information to know.

Organizational Environment
(20% of the Principles of Supervision DSST)

  • Legal concerns - Know what you can and can't ask during an interview.
  • Work force diversity - You'll need to understand what it is, as well as have a basic understanding of US anti-discrimination laws. The link above should have covered most of this for you.
  • Collective bargaining - A very nice write-up to include the relevant laws. Know how the laws apply. You'll probably be asked about unions at least once on the Principles of Supervision DSST.
  • Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees - Yes, it's dry reading. I would still suggest you read all of the article so you fully understand who qualifies as exempt and who doesn't. Know what acts and laws enforce this classification.
  • Value dimensions - Best I could find on this particular subject. Just know that one of the challenges in managing internationally is that your employees come from different cultures.
  • Regional economic integration - Another topic that you need only a basic understanding of.
  • Trading alliances - Hooray for colorful explanations!
  • Global environment - Blasted impossible to find a description of so here's mine, "A business environment encompassing many geographic and economic regions to include nation states." Eat your heart out Mr. Webster.
  • Social responsibilities of business - Brief skim of the first two paragraphs will work.
  • Ethics
  • Systems - You may or may not be asked about this on your version of the Principles of Supervision DSST. Still, I'd check out the Organizational Theory section at least.
  • Environment - Always an issue with international business in less regulated countries.
  • Government Regulation - Nice article, especially considering the current debate on Wall Street at the time of this writing.

Recommended bargain-priced study resources

Always check your library first! You may be able to find some of these for free. You don't have to buy the officially recommended resources all the time. If you're the type of person that prefers to study from a textbook source however, then please see below.

Management: Leading and Collaborating in the Competitive World - Seriously, I feel bad just putting this here. I would highly recommend against spending this kind of money to prepare for this exam. If you're going to spend any money at all, I'd pick up one of the cheaper books below, or even better yet a month subscription to InstantCert Academy. Still, if you feel driven to get your hands on an actual DSST recommended textbook then here it is. See if you can find one used at least. A little scribbling in the book isn't going to matter for this.

DSST The Official Test Preparation Guide - Be aware!! This covers the old version of the exam. While it does touch on some of the same material, the Principles of Supervision DSST has been updated. If you must have a book in your hands then I'd get this as a supplemental source until some other updated study guides get released.

InstantCert Academy Principles of Supervision Exam Feedback - I've linked directly to page four of this thread since it covers the most recent version of the exam. Tons of good info here.

I would still suggest going through the Principles of Supervision Flashcards, but be aware that most of them are for the old exam. Still, you'll pick up quite a few bits of information that will help you on the refreshed test. I'd concentrate most of my effort on the Exam Feedback thread in the first link until IC updates their flashcards.

If you don't know what InstantCert is, then click here for the scoop as well as a discount code: **InstantCert Academy**

You'll find an InstantCert link for every exam here if that gives you an idea of the amount of information they have available. It's an outstanding resource.

Closing Thoughts

Even with the updated version, the Principles of Supervision DSST is one of the easiest DSST's out there. The sheer amount of overlap with the Principles of Management CLEP also comes in very handy. Most colleges count these two as separate classes, and will consider both towards elective credits if nothing else. Definitely worth the time and effort to pick up six credits between the two exams. You can do it!

Best of luck!

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