Asphalt Institute Academy
National Binder Technician Certification Program

Written Exam

The written certification exam is intended to test a technician’s knowledge about asphalt binder testing procedures and proper laboratory practices required to effectively conduct testing for the AASHTO M320 (PG) specification. Because no technician operates, or should operate, without access to standards and other laboratory documents, the examination will be open-book and open-note.

The written exam consists of 60 questions in a multiple choice format covering various knowledge areas. These knowledge areas are broken down into five parts:

  • Basic concepts
  • Miscellaneous tests
  • DSR
  • BBR
  • DTT

The technician must score a minimum of 70% on each of the four sections and an 80% on the exam as a whole. For example, it is mathematically possible to fail the written exam with a score of 93% overall by scoring 60% on section three and answering all of the other questions on the exam correctly. This ensures a minimum comprehension in all areas of the course content.

Questions cover both procedural and conceptual elements. The procedural questions are intended to evaluate the technician’s knowledge of the published standards, while those covering concept gauge the technician’s ability to recognize suspect data. There are randomly selected questions from each knowledge area, designed to adequately cover certification topics. As such, the written examination has many different versions. The examination must be completed in two (2) hours.

Written Exam Preparation

The Asphalt Institute partnered with Dr. Dave Anderson, a lead architect of the Superpave PG Binder system, to develop the prerequisite 2-day review course of the NBTC program that prepares the technician to take the certification exams. The review course covers in detail all of the standard AASHTO M320 tests and laboratory procedures. Additionally, AI’s technical training coordinator and the instructor for the NBTC program, Mike Beavin, strongly encourages technicians to read the review course text, Asphalt Institute’s manual MS-25 Asphalt Binder Testing: Technician’s Manual for Specification Testing of Asphalt Binders in preparation for attending the course. MS-25 provides a detailed description of the AASHTO M320 tests and associated lab procedures.

Laboratory Proficiency Exam

The laboratory proficiency examination is a hands-on demonstration by the student that he/she can properly conduct the AASHTO M320 asphalt binder tests and use good laboratory practices. This portion of the exam is a one-on-one demonstration performed by the student for the certification examiner. The examiner evaluates the student’s performance of each lab procedure against a set of minimum performance criteria. The student must adequately demonstrate each procedure to pass.


Please follow the link to learn more details about Certification Program retests.

Please note that you have 6 months to take the online exam from the date of notification.