How Hard Is the ISA Certified Arborist Exam: Win The Challenge


Career Consultant & Blog Writer

Published: October 18, 2023

The difficulty of the ISA Certified Arborist exam varies from person to person. It can be challenging, especially if you lack the necessary knowledge and practical experience. The key to success is thorough preparation, which includes studying the relevant material, attending workshops or courses, and gaining hands-on experience. With dedication and effort, passing the exam is achievable.

If so, you might be curious about how hard is the ISA certified arborist exam. To provide you with a comprehensive understanding, we’ve crafted an in-depth guide to help you prepare. In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of the ISA Certified Arborist Exam, sharing insights, FAQs, and insider tips to set you up for success.

Understanding the Exam Format

How Hard Is the ISA Certified Arborist Exam

The ISA Certified Arborist Exam is known for its challenging format. It consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical exam. The written portion comprises 200 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of various aspects of arboriculture. These questions are designed to assess your understanding of tree biology, tree care, and safety practices.

The Complexity of Questions

One reason the ISA Certified Arborist Exam is considered difficult is the complexity of the questions. These questions often require in-depth knowledge and a profound understanding of arboriculture concepts. They cover everything from tree identification and pruning techniques to pest management and safety standards.

Wide Range of Topics

To pass the ISA Certified Arborist Exam, you must be well-versed in a wide range of topics. This includes tree biology, soil science, tree maintenance, and risk management. The breadth of knowledge required makes it a challenging endeavor, but it’s also an excellent way to ensure that certified arborists are truly experts in their field.

Need for Real-World Experience

One crucial aspect that makes the ISA Certified Arborist Exam tough is that it’s not just about theoretical knowledge. It’s equally essential to have hands-on, practical experience. Arborists must be capable of applying their knowledge in real-world scenarios, such as tree assessments and pruning.

Insider Tips for Success

Now that we’ve discussed the difficulty of the ISA Certified Arborist Exam let’s explore some tips to help you prepare effectively:

Tips #1. Study Resources

To excel in the exam, invest in quality study resources. Consider textbooks, online courses, and study guides specifically designed for ISA certification. These resources will help you grasp the nuances of arboriculture.

Tips #2. Practice Exams

Taking practice exams is a vital step in your preparation. It helps you become familiar with the exam format and the types of questions you’ll encounter. Many arborists find that practice exams boost their confidence and overall performance.

Tips #3. Practical Experience

Don’t underestimate the importance of practical experience. Spending time in the field, working on tree care and maintenance will enhance your knowledge and skills, making you better prepared for the practical component of the exam.

Tips #4. Study Groups

Joining a study group can be incredibly beneficial. It allows you to discuss challenging topics, clarify doubts, and learn from others who are also preparing for the exam. Sharing knowledge and experiences can significantly boost your understanding.

Tips #5. Time Management

Effective time management is essential. Create a study schedule that allocates sufficient time to each topic, ensuring you cover all areas comprehensively. Avoid last-minute cramming, as it rarely leads to success.

FAQs With Answers About How Hard Is the ISA Certified Arborist Exam

How many questions are on the ISA-certified arborist exam?

The ISA Certified Arborist exam comprises 200 multiple-choice questions, while the Certified Arborist Utility Specialist exam contains 120 multiple-choice questions.

What is the best ISA certification?

The “best” ISA certification depends on your career goals and interests. If you aim to work as a professional arborist, the ISA Certified Arborist certification is the most recognized and widely respected in the industry. If you’re more focused on utility line clearance, the ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist certification would be the better choice.

How long does my ISA last?

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certifications are valid for three years. After this period, you’ll need to recertify to maintain your status as a certified arborist. Recertification typically involves continuing education and passing the appropriate exam.

How do I become an arborist in Canada?

To become an arborist in Canada, follow these general steps:
Education: Consider enrolling in a reputable arboriculture program or taking courses related to tree care and maintenance.
Work Experience: Gain practical experience by working with experienced arborists or in tree care companies. Building a strong foundation of hands-on knowledge is crucial.
Certification: Obtain an ISA certification, such as the Certified Arborist or Certified Arborist Utility Specialist, depending on your career path.
Licensing: Some provinces in Canada may require arborists to obtain a license. Check with your local authorities for specific requirements in your area.
Network: Join arborist associations, attend conferences, and connect with professionals in the field. Networking can provide valuable opportunities and knowledge.
Stay Informed: Keep up to date with the latest industry standards and practices to excel in your arborist career.


The ISA Certified Arborist Exam is undoubtedly a challenging certification to obtain. It demands a broad knowledge base, practical skills, and dedication. However, with the right preparation, study materials, and a commitment to continuous learning, you can conquer this hurdle and become a certified arborist.