If you, like me a few years ago, don’t know where to start from as you prepare for your DSST Organization Behavior (OB) test, worry no more for you are in the right place.
Organization Behavior, or OB as most students like to call it, simply means the way people relate or interact within a group or an organization. Studying for my Organization Behavior exams made me realize that it’s is not such a wet blanket, unlike some courses that are just oppressively bland, it’s not pointless either because it’s an exam, not a trivia. At the bare minimum, the course provides the little excitement you need to power your studies.
Think of this test as recognition of your knowledge in Organization Behavior. You are expected to be at least as knowledgeable as a student taking Organization Behavior in a College or a University.
Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think when you prepare properly, as I am going to show you.
This exam splits into five main bits:
This is the most natural part. The test at this level will be on your general understanding of Organization behavior as a field of study. A little reading will go a long way as most of the things here are no-brainers, particularly if you studied business studies at the lower levels; maybe in high school. Always make sure to remember the keywords for precise definitions. For example, you may have to define Organization Behavior, which is merely the study of how people relate/ interact within a group. The important keywords here to remember will include study (because it’s a field of study), people (because it’s concerned with the behavior of people, not pets or pet influencers), interaction or relationship between these people who together are called a group or an organization. The slightly trickier part is the test of your knowledge in fundamental concepts where you may encounter terms like; Individual differences, perception, a whole person, human dignity, holistic concept and a couple more concepts. Knowledge of the origin of Organization Behavior will also be tested here. Your understanding of the scientific approaches used in Organization Behavior that is to; Gather information, generate a hypothesis, test hypothesis, and the conclusion, as well as the research designs used in Organization Behavior such as; experiments, case, and survey. Knowledge of methods used to collect data such as questionnaires will also make it easier to realize the 10% in this bit.
This is another painless section, child’s play even, all you have to do is read well enough, then demonstrate that you understand possible reasons that could affect an employee’s actions. We are talking about the perceptual processes; ability to receive, select, organize then interpret. The employee’s personality, how it affects his/her behavior, as well as the factors that influence their personality, in terms of learned or inherited characteristics, traits, personality attributes, and perception. Attitudes and emotions such as love, surprise, joy, sadness, anger, and fear in terms of their impact or lack thereof on staff behavior. The learning process and how it’s affected by factors such as environment, motivation, mental group, and practice. How motivation powered by needs, drives or incentives positively or otherwise can affect employee behavior. Without forgetting the relationship between employee behavior, work stress, and its components.
This is the wet blanket that we still have to wring and dry, after all, this is an exam, not a trivia. The truth is that it’s not half as boring. You will be expected to demonstrate your knowledge of group dynamics address the stages of group development; the forming, storming, norming and performing. Impact of Group behavior and different levels of conflict at; Interpersonal level, intragroup, intergroup or intrapersonal level and the various methods that can be used to manage conflict. How Leadership and influence from within or outside the organization influence employee behavior, and how employees behave in response to different leadership styles. You will also be tested on your understanding of the impact of power and politics on staff Behavior. A proper understanding of the communication process/model and it’s elements such as the sender/encoder, medium, recipient/decoder and noise can also determine whether or not you scoop the entire 30%.
This section is meant to examine: Your knowledge of procedures, that are undertaken in the organization on a regular basis such as decision making, including the different models of decision making, the steps involved and your ability to demonstrate how employees behave in response to these processes. Your understanding of organizational structure, design and its different elements such as; specialization, departmentalization, centralization/ decentralization, and span of control and how they change or fail to change the behavior of the organization’s members. Knowledge of organizational culture and it’s relationship to employee behavior and the three levels of organizational culture; assumptions, values, and artifacts.
This is the most demanding chunk of the exam. It’s no match for an informed mind though. Read well enough and you will cut through it like a hot knife on butter. Expect to be evaluated on Organization Behavior process and analysis through different models such as S-R model, S-O-B-C, S-O-B-A and S-O-R model. Concepts of change, application and techniques of change and will require thinking about reasons for change such as technology, globalization, market environment, organization growth, and of course how the employees behave in reaction to these changes, as well as the best way to plan for and implement these changes, with minimal resistance and maximum cooperation from the employees.
Correct Answer: Automatic perception
Explanation: Organization Behavior's scientific method has four steps these are; a collection of information, creation/generation of a hypothesis, testing of the hypothesis and a draw to conclusion/review of the hypothesis.
Correct Answer: Charisma
Explanation: Charismatic leaders are supposed to be; visionary, sensitive to staff needs, be able to appeal to the employees' emotions in terms of their moral compass or the greater good, they align teammates to a common clear purpose while at the same time winning their confidence and collaboration.
Correct Answer: Classical conditioning
Explanation: Remember when you were a kid probably a preteen? You worked harder in school when your parents promised to buy you a bicycle or a play station if you perform well.
Correct Answer: COBRA
Explanation: This is a tricky one.
Correct Answer: Conscientiousness
Explanation: Different personalities come with different traits; An openness to experience kind of personality is inclined towards creativity, uniqueness and is curious.
Correct Answer: Delegating
Explanation: Leaders who consult and discuss with their workers before making a decision use the selling style of leadership.
Correct Answer: Expert
Explanation: From the name, it's easy to tell Expert power results from outstanding performance in a field or industry. The example above demonstrates a man (Einstein) who earned influence in his field (science) because of his expertise (science genius).
Correct Answer: Forming, Storming, Norming, Conforming
Explanation: When groups are created they go through several phases Forming (people meet), then Storming ( they struggle to get rid of different personality conflicts), Norming (They develop a stronger union), Conforming ( issues between members are addressed). The other options are unrelated. Unfreezing, Changing and Refreezing are phases of creating a change. Automatic, Selective, Contextual, Creative are characteristics of a perception process.; When groups are created they go through several phases Forming (people meet), then Storming ( they struggle to get rid of different personality conflicts), Norming (They develop a stronger union), Conforming ( issues between members are addressed).
Correct Answer: Industrial Revolution
Explanation: Organization behavior began around the time of the industrial revolution because there was a pressing need to increase employee productivity in the rapidly expanding industries.
Correct Answer: Physical needs
Explanation: Maslow's Hierarchy of needs start with the most basic needs that he called (1)Physical needs(think; air, food, water, warmth, shelter and sex),then (2)Safety( think of safety from injury, diseases and financial insecurity), (3)Love and Belonging ( You guessed it right these are social needs; friends, groups, and family including your better half),(4) Esteem needs (Things like self-respect and self-confidence that can be achieved through appreciation and respect from other people), (5) Self Actualization ( This is the desire to grow and achieve full potential).
Correct Answer: Unfreezing, Changing, Refreezing
Explanation: Change is created in three phases; Unfreezing (disabling the existing mindset and battling human defense mechanism against change), Changing (when the actual transition happens and comes with some confusion) then Refreezing (people adapt to the new changes, the change becomes standard/normal and is now imprinted into their mindset).
Textbooks are great as far as they go, but I’d generally recommend you opt for this exam guide instead. It tends to cut through the confusion and help you accelerate your learning process.
Ok, so the DSST website isn’t the most inviting, but it will give you the best approximation of the real exam experience. Also, the official practice test is quite affordable (currently just $5 per practice exam).
Another website with a very dated design, but as ancient as it looks, this is actually an incredibly valuable resource. Basically, you get a massive set of flashcards that you can use to study human resources management and to really solidify that knowledge so you’re ready for the exam.