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Wherever we go, everyone is rushing and trying to get shortcuts and save time to do other more important things. DSST allows you not only to save time but also to save money. It works the following way: when an individual takes the DSST exam, you can transfer those credits to the university. Afterwards, the student doesn’t have to attend some classes, meaning you can save some time and attend other classes with juniors and/or seniors. Moreover, the student doesn’t have to pay for some courses (which topics were covered in the exam), which means you will save some money as well.

When you are looking to be a supervisor in business, there are many concepts and practices that you must be prepared for. Not everyone can be a supervisor. There are leaders, and there are followers. Congrats on looking to be a leader!

The DSST Principles of Supervision test is 100 multiple choice questions with a 2-hour testing window. If you do the math, that is a little more than one minute per question. It is crucial that you are ready for any scenario that the test makers may throw at you!

Principles of Supervision
Study Guide

principles of supervision dsst

The content includes sections on roles and responsibilities of a supervisor; planning, organization and staffing; leading at the supervisory level; legal issues; stress management; union environments; and quality concerns. That is a lot to study for! The exam is divided into sections:

  • Roles and Responsibilities of Managers and Supervisors – 20%

    a. Evolution of management/supervision
    b. Knowledge and skill requirements
    c. Managerial roles
    d. Levels of management
    e. Business ethics and corporate social responsibility

    In this section you will need to focus on knowing how manager/supervisor roles developed over time, how to delegate, understanding the varied roles a manager plays (supervisor, mediator, trainer, etc), determine how best to use the assets of your team, and what define business ethics and social responsibility.

    You must also know about the knowledge and skills required to be a supervisor. For example, you must have the ability to maintain multiple relationships with team members simultaneously. It is also important for managers to have knowledge in all areas of the business – not just their department. A manager should have knowledge and experience in customer service, sales, marketing, shareholder relations, planning, scheduling, company structure, history of the business, working with clients, purchasing, contracts, and a myriad of other functions in the business. The skills needed include computer skills, conflict resolution, organization, strategizing, use of any and all equipment in their department, and the ability to communicate with anyone.

    A good manager also has a functioning knowledge of the hierarchy of the company and his or her role in that tree. It is especially important that a manager completes his or her tasks in accordance with the vision set by upper management. It is critical that each manager understand that the full vision cannot be achieved without proper task completion at each level of management.

    Business ethics and corporate social responsibility are also essential knowledge. Ethics is about doing what is best for not just the company, but the clientele, the community, and any business partners. Corporate social responsibility is the company’s commitment to maintaining environmentally safe facilities, supporting causes in the surrounding communities, and either creating a foundation for regular giving or regularly donating to an existing charity.

  • Management Functions – 50%

    a. Planning
    b. Organizing and staffing
    c. Leading
    d. Controlling

    In planning, a manager must take the vision put forth by the company and complete his or her department’s tasks in achieving that vision. This calls for both short-term and long-term planning. In the short-term, a manager assigns initial tasks to team members and clarifies the purpose and execution of each job. In long-term planning, the team members are given the vision of the company and an explanation of how each of their tasks is a step in fulfilling that vision.

    It takes a lot of organization to handle a team! Managers deal with diverse cultures, personalities, skill sets, and education levels. Proper staffing is necessary to keep organization intact. When managers hire new staff, they are seeking to fill holes in the team. For example, maybe the team is excellent; but, Suzy left recently, and her specialty was marketing. In replacing Suzy, the manager will screen and interview candidates who have the proper education and experience to meet the goals that Suzy was meeting.

    As a leader, a manager must first be willing to do any job that those under his or her leadership are performing. In restaurant management, for example, no one is above cleaning the restroom! Part of being a great manager is this willingness to help out wherever one is needed. A leader must also be a person of integrity and patience. Managers must be honest, forthcoming, and approachable. One sign of a lousy team leader is when employees are afraid to approach the leader with questions.

    As a function of controlling, managers must assess the performance of their employees, execute disciplinary actions, and create long-term goals for success. This one on one time examining an employee’s performance and how that employee is contributing to the company will give the manager a sense of where that employee needs to improve and what strengths that person brings to the team. Controlling is another way to make sure a manager has every team member in the right role.

  • Organizational Environment – 30%

    a. Legal, political, economic and social
    b. Labor-management relations (e.g. unions vs. non-union, exempt vs. non-exempt)
    c. Organizational culture
    d. Diversity and inclusion
    e. Global
    f. Sustainable environments
    g. Organizational change
    h. Workplace safety and security
    While some managers never have to deal with legal issues in their departments, they must have basic knowledge of workplace law to be good managers. You have to know how many work hours are allowed per week, when breaks must be given, etc. Breaking these laws can bring trouble to the company!

    There are two kinds of politics in business: politics of the industry and politics of the company. A savvy manager will be fully informed on both. It is often necessary, however distasteful, to “play politics” to make sure your department is functioning at 100%. You may need to butter up a member of upper management to get the new computers you need for your team. Persuasive skills are invaluable in this part of management.

    The economic environment of the company will be determined by the economic success or failure of the company. A company that is doing very well will have a more laid-back, positive environment – with bonuses given and parties held! A struggling company, however, will be a stressful, potentially negative environment where every move by every employee at every level will and can be called into question.

    Upper management directs the social environment of a company. Some upper managers like to have a positive, relaxing work environment, with lenient dress codes and ample perks. On the other hand, there are some companies (and these are usually ones that have been around for decades) whose leaders are stuck in old paradigms of management style and don’t believe in the strength of the “little people.”

    Good labor union relations are critical if you are in a union shop. Not only does the manager need to know and follow the federal and state employment laws, but he or she must also abide by all facets of a union contract. Managers must also be familiar with the structure of the union and who acts as the contact point for the union at each level.

    Upper management will define the organizational culture. Some companies, like those that have been around for 100 years or more, will take the attitude that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, the old management styles are leading to more turnover as newer, younger companies are generating success through more open, diverse, and relaxed working environments (like Facebook).

    In this politically correct age, diversity and inclusion are matters that all managers must attend to. What is fortunate is that managers who recognize the talents of everyone on the team, regardless of their group identification, age, gender, culture, or race, are more likely to be successful. Those managers who have been around the block more than a few times have a tendency to fight against diversity and inclusion.

    With our current technologically driven society, it is normal for companies to have global customers. The most important factors you must consider are cultural. For example, it is considered rude and offensive to belch at a formal dinner in Britain. However, the Japanese take that as a huge compliment to the chef!

    More and more companies are looking to create sustainable environments not just around their businesses, but within. There are more and more companies taking advantage of green buildings, eco-friendly machines and services, and tips to improve the health of their employees. Yes, employees are a resource that need a positive, healthy environment to perform successfully.

    All companies go through change. How the company reacts to that change says a lot about its leaders. Those that anticipate and plan for changes long-term are far more successful than those who simply react to change as it comes. A healthy organization will sail through changes with barely a hiccup.

    Workplace safety and security used to be about physical protection for the employees. Now, safety and security have extended to the digital infrastructure companies access every day to get their work done. IT departments are the new security guards – of information. Of course, to keep all company premises and employees safe, physical security guards will always be needed!

Principles of Supervision
Practice Quiz

It’s time to see how well you can do! There are 10 questions below that will help you see where you are in your progress. Once you have written your answer, hover over (or tap on the phone) the question to see answers and explanations. You can do it!

Please do keep in mind that we can’t guarantee the accuracy of this quiz, so we do recommend you also run through a full-length practice exam.  We’ll recommend some good options in the resources section at the bottom of this page.

Question 1: Which of the following terms refers to each manager’s right to assign projects to team members?

a. Authority
b. Responsibility
c. Delegation
d. Accountability


Managers cannot handle everything themselves every day – there simply isn’t enough time! It is important that they understand how to delegate responsibility to those who work for them.

Question 2: Supervisors carry out planning based on whose long-term goals?

a. customers
b. upper management
c. subordinates
d. colleagues


While supervisors call the shots for their teams, they ultimately report to upper management. Upper management is in charge of figuring out the long-term goals for the company, and managers and employees are the ones who execute those plans.

Question 3: Delegating through the parity principle would give a supervisor the sense that…

a. He has a balance of authority and responsibility
b. She has enough authority but no responsibility
c. He has enough responsibility but no authority
d. She can meet her responsibilities with her current level of authority.


The Parity principle defines the level of authority being equal to that of the level of responsibility. You cannot complete a task if you don’t have the authority to access all necessary resources. Without that access, you cannot meet your responsibilities. Parity is all about meeting your responsibilities with appropriate authority.

Question 4: Which term would indicate the type of employee who works in manufacturing?

a. An engineer
b. A line employee
c. A fixed-term employee
d. A department supervisor


A line employee is someone who works in the day to day operations creating the products that companies sell. These are also known as “front-line employees”. These are the workers who are most likely to handle the manual labor and production of the company operations. Sometimes, they are referred to derogatorily as “grunts”.

Question 5: For which of the following should an employee seek company offered counseling?

a. career planning
b. retirement planning
c. filing formal grievances
d. substance abuse


Employee assistance programs are there to help employees with mental or emotional problems. Addiction, marital counseling, and emotional disorders are all things that will negatively affect an employee’s performance. Assistance programs are offered by very good companies that care about their employees’ well-being.

Question 6: During an interview with a job candidate, which of the following questions can a human resources interviewer ask?

a. Do you plan to have children in the near future?
b. What is your sexual orientation?
c. Are you legally able to work in this country?
d. Do you have health issues that would interfere with your work?

ANSWER: c). It is not only illegal to ask questions a, b, and d, it is also extremely rude! The questions asked by an interviewer must pertain only to a job candidate’s eligibility to work in this country, past work experience, education, and reasons for seeking the position.

Question 7: Physiological needs, acceptance, safety, esteem, and self-actualization are the levels of what?

a. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
b. Hertzberg’s Theory of Motivation
c. Hawking’s Theory of Everything
d. Lewin’s Change Theory

ANSWER: a). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is quite applicable in a supervisory role. All people must feel that their physical and emotional needs are being met in order to perform at optimum capacity. An employee who feels marginalized, for example, will not be able to work to his or her full potential. It is a supervisor’s job to ensure each employee is having their basic needs met in the workplace.

Question 8: All disciplinary actions in the workplace begin with whom?

a. president
b. supervisor
c. human resources manager
d. union steward


A supervisor is directly responsible for initiating disciplinary actions regarding employees under his or her management. While a union steward may be part of the process, he or she cannot officially discipline an employee. In fact, stewards are more likely to be the defenders of the employees, not the disciplinarians.

Question 9: Which of the following are necessary parts of the controlling process?

a. creating performance goals
b. disciplinary actions
c. monitoring performance
d. all of the above


If a supervisor is going to properly measure performance of his or her employees, all of these factors must be considered. A supervisor cannot measure performance based on a happy employee who smiles every day 😊 There have to be outcomes with specific, measurable features to get a clear sense of how an employee is doing in his or her job.

Question 10: Of the following, which organization is responsible for enforcing labor laws?

a. US Department of Labor
b. Homeland Security
c. National Labor Relations Board


The US Department of Labor is an organization that collects data and information about employment across the country. The National Labor Relations Board is responsible for the enforcement of basic labor laws. The AFL-CIO is a union and obviously, Homeland Security has much more important things to worry about 😊

More DSST Study Resources

Are you at the beginning of your study process, or just looking for a couple more practice questions to finish prepping for your exam? In either case, you can find some of my favorite resources below. Some of the links below are affiliate (Amazon for instance), which means they’ll pay us a few bucks for every purchase through the link. Feel free to use those links if you want to support the site, but you can also just Google the title or pick the book up at your local library.

Official DSST Practice Test: 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).

Mometrix – DSST Principles of Supervision: 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.

InstantCert Academy: 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 learn Supervision and to really solidify that knowledge so you’re ready for the exam.

Plenty of other resources exist – just do a quick internet search – but these are a fantastic start, and probably all you really need. I’ve personally done some exams with just InstantCert and the official practice test.

Congrats on starting your DSST study journey! Study hard, earn credit, and most of all remember to have fun.