How do I study for Lean Six Sigma?

An introductory guide to preparing for the Lean Six Sigma Exam


The thought of taking your Lean Six Sigma certification exam can be scary, but with the proper study tools, you can pass your exam on the first try.  Six Sigma focuses on improving the production processes of an organization while also looking to remove waste.  Therefore, having a strong understanding of business processes, statistics, and definitions will be key to your success.

Lean Six Sigma isn’t a standalone certification but a range of belts, from White Belt to Master Black Belt.  Each belt level focuses on elements since each belt plays a different role on a project.  We cover belt roles in detail here.  The studying you’ll need will depend on the Six Sigma Belt you’re trying to achieve.  We’ll touch on this more as we discuss study materials.

The options below will help you study for Lean Six Sigma.  They are broken down by category.

Six Sigma Body of Knowledge

The first place you’ll want to start when studying for your Lean Six Sigma exam is to review a Six Sigma Body of Knowledge.  The Body of Knowledge (BoK) lists all subjects someone should understand when they are certified.  There is no singular body of knowledge for Six Sigma, so it’s usually recommended that you review several different BoK’s.

The MSI Six Sigma Body of Knowledge

The Management and Strategy Institute publishes its Six Sigma Body of Knowledge (MSI-SSBoK) for free so that any organization can confidently align its business practices.  MSI takes an open-source approach to Six Sigma knowledge and encourages organizations to adopt these standards at no cost.

MSI breaks its Lean Six Sigma standards down by belt level, which are available here (Six Sigma Body of Knowledge).

The ASQ Six Sigma Body of Knowledge

MSI also recommends that all members review the ASQ body of knowledge for ASQ Black Belt, and ASQ Green Belt so that you understand ASQ standards as well.  ASQ does a great job of breaking down organization-wide planning and deployment considerations.  They also discuss team facilitation with motivational techniques and some additional subjects.

Don’t think of the Body of Knowledge as study material but rather a guide to understanding the subjects you’ll need to be familiar with.

Study Material Options

When it comes time to study for Lean Six Sigma, the first place most people start is online.  There are many resources online for learning, and many of them are free.  If you’re registered for a Six Sigma exam through MSI, then you’ll want to start with the material included with your certification.  The course that MSI includes with the exam is specifically designed to prepare you for the certification exam.  It covers all of the key topics discussed in the MSI Six Sigma body of knowledge.

Free Resources

  • YouTube: The Six Sigma videos on YouTube are one of the best ways to study Lean Six Sigma for free.  MIT offers a complete Introduction to Lean Six Sigma Methods course that MSI highly recommends.  We even link to it within our training material.  The program covers all principles, practices, and tools of Lean Six Sigma methods and can be completed from the comfort of your own home.

  • The Library: Yes, you can find books at the library to help you study for Lean Six Sigma.  The library is the best free resource for business professionals since they have large sections dedicated to business topics like process improvement.

Paid Resources

  • Online Courses: You’ll find plenty of training courses online to help you study for Lean Six Sigma.  Management and Strategy Institute includes online courses with all of our certification programs at no extra cost.  This allows you to prepare for the MSI certification exam without spending extra money for materials.

  • Offline Training: Doing a Google search for “Six Sigma Classes Near Me” should allow you to find in-person training programs.  These programs are usually pretty expensive, at least a few thousand dollars.  However, if you enjoy in-person training, this cost may be well worth it.

  • Books:  We mentioned books at the library earlier, and we highly recommend going there to see what’s available.  However, if you want the largest selection of books for studying, you may need to purchase some books from a bookstore.  Searching for Six Sigma books on Barnes and Noble will yield hundreds of options, many specifically designed as test-prep material.

Six Sigma Projects, Real vs. Simulated

You may consider working on a Six Sigma project to help you prepare for your Lean Six Sigma exam.  This may be a good idea, depending on your ability to find a suitable project.  The ideal scenario is if the company you work for has an existing Six Sigma project already in progress.

Your organization probably won’t let you contribute directly without already having a certification, but they may allow you to intern on the project as an assistant.  This could give you valuable hands-on experience on a project and make studying for Lean Six Sigma a little easier.  It will allow you to put your knowledge into practice and see precisely how Lean Six Sigma tools are used.

If you don’t have access to a real-world project, your only other option is to look for a project simulation.  For example, MSI offers a project walk-through simulation with its Lean Six Sigma Black belt course.  These simulations can also help you understand how tools are applied during a project.  The simulations often aren’t as robust as a real-world project, but they still have value since you can quickly apply what you’ve learned.

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Picture of Rei Takako

Rei Takako

BS, Business Management
Chicago, IL