How hard are the DGSA exams?
Before we can answer this question, we need understand if it’s the right question.
There’s actually three DGSA exams: Core, All Classes and Road (or other mode). Each presents a different type of challenge for candidates. You need to pass all three exams to qualify as a Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser.
DGSA Pass Rates
The following are the ‘national’ (not DGSA Academy’s) pass rates for each exam, averaged over 4 quarters:
All Classes: 63%
As you can see, it’s the Road exam that accounts for the most fails, and consequently, those candidates would need to re-take that paper to qualify. Other than Road paper, most candidates perform (reasonably) well.
DGSA Road Exam
There’s actually quite a few reasons why candidates struggle with the Road paper, and not all those reasons are to do with the content, as you might think. Here’s my observations on the challenges, and what you can do about it:
- A lot of candidates don’t realise there’s a difference between the exam papers and the Parts of the ADR that will be tested in each. For example, the Road paper will be going into Parts 7-8.
- The Road paper is a different beast to the Core/All Classes papers, in that it’s based on a Case Study. In part A, candidates have to choose one of three to answer.
- Some candidates don’t read the instructions – so answer more than one case study. There’s no points available for doing this
- Candidates take too long reading and deciding the pros/cons of each case study. Consequently, running out of time is a common issue
- There’s also a Part B, which is mandatory, and independent of Part A. Some candidates miss these (often easy) points
- The exam doesn’t start until 1400, and runs for 1h 45m. This puts most of us into the 3 o’clock slump. This one’s a bit easier, if you plan ahead and stay hydrated/caffeinated.
The Value of DGSA Training
DGSA Training is not mandatory in the UK, so you could just buy the books and do the exams. However, unless you’re very experienced, it’s not recommended.
Because the DGSA syllabus is so broad, there’s few people who start with sufficient knowledge and experience, across all areas. This is the real value of a Trainer – they should be able to explain which parts of the ADR manuals are more important than others, and to what extent you need to know (or where to find) that information.
Do your training with a reputable provider. Just don’t make your selection based on a stated pass rate. Pass rates are not independently verifiable for the DGSA qualification.
Instead, choose a provider who offers a course that suits your style of learning and provides additional, individual support. We may receive knowledge collectively, but learning is an individual experience. There should be some elements of course design that addresses our individual differences.
The Rules of the Game
None of the exams (not even the Road) should hold any fear for a DGSA candidate. Sometimes, you just need to better understand the rules of the game.
How We Can Help Ensure DGSA Exam Success
We are the only DGSA training provider to offer a satisfaction guarantee – if you fail any of the three exams, we will provide additional mock exam materials and arrange another 60 minute 1:1 coaching session, totally free of charge.