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3.90 Level 2 Certification Test

3.90 Level 2 Certification Test Overview:

Each candidate will strip down and rebuild a section of wall totaling 27 square feet which incorporates a square wall end (cheek end). 27 sq ft is roughly equal to a wall 4 feet 6 inches tall and 6’ long. (The square footage is measured on one face.) The wall must be at least 3 feet high, and must be built within a period of seven hours.

The work is to be done in the presence of two Examiners. A candidate must obtain the minimum mark in each section and an overall total score of at least 69 out of 115 to merit certification.

The basic principles of construction as set out in the Initial Certificate are to be followed. In addition, particular emphasis will be placed on: line and straightness; adequate hearting; selection of stones for all parts; batter or camber; correct laying of through stones secureness of cope stones.

You must bring your own material for batter frames unless otherwise arranged. Setting up your own batter frames is part of the test. You must provide your own string lines and other tools. During the test there is minimal time for shaping stone. The stone is fairly hard and has already been selected for appropriate shapes and sizes. There is also additional stone available if needed.

The Level II test wall should be built following the same procedure as Level I. However the wall must be built to a much higher standard to pass.  When compared to level 1, there is a huge jump in the expected structural quality and visual fit-and-finish of passing Level II work.  You must have a Level I certificate before you apply for Level II. This is a Stone Trust Policy.

This certification course takes place on a ‘test day’ when some or all levels of certification tests are administered at the same time.  Each Level II test stint will be tying into an existing wall and there will be at least a small section of wall that remains untouched before the next test stint.  There may be other test stints of various levels near by.

This course is commonly taught at:

Additional Information on the Level II Test:

Tips for Success:

  • Know the requirements
  • Arrive at least ½ hour early to settle in (examiners can answer questions before test starts)
  • This is not your highest quality work, it is the work you can produce in 7 hours
  • Sort the material as you strip out (generally not more than 30 min)
  • Strip out the wall so there is equal amounts of stone on both sides
  • Through stones should be on by ½ the allowed time (3.5 hours)
  • Sort face stones by size, keep copes, hearting, and throughs separated.
  • The end of the wall should be vertical (no batter).
  • Examiners look for the cheekend to be properly tied back into the wall
  • Good Line, straightness, and even wall faces, are important at this level
  • Heart very solidly under throughstones
  • Pin (heart) between and under each face stone
  • Be familiar with setting up batter frames
  • No running joints up the wall end are allowed
  • A large, solid, end cope is important.
  • The cheekend is marked higher than any other category of the test.

Most wallers, even very experienced ones, need to do a lot of preparation in order to pass level 2. The Level 2 test has an average 50% pass rate. Don’t expect to be able to pass this without preparation. If you have questions please contact us.

  • Most people who successfully pass Level II have built at least 5 to 10 cheek ends on the clock
  • Take a Pre-Test  (practice test with no evaluation).

Workshops aimed at  preparation for Level II Certification

All levels of certification consist of taking down and rebuilding a specified amount of wall in 7 hours.  The walls are built in the presence of certified examiners and must meet the minimum required score to pass.  All tests are graded on a pass/fail system.  Each part of the test wall is numerically graded, and must meet or exceed a minimum score to pass. The test wall as a whole must also meet a minimum score to pass.  The required sections and minimum scores vary for each level of certification.  See the page for each level for detailed information and example mark sheets.

The 7 hour test time does NOT include a mandatory half hour lunch break.  After the test is complete The Center needs to be tidied up and you may chose to review your work with the examiners.  This is in addition to the 7 hour test and often lasts 1.5 – 2 hours.

Test participants must be respectful of other examinees, the examiners, and The Center.  Working safely and not distracting others is important.  Be sure to read the policies page.

General Information About Certification:

The Stone Trust provides access, to and administers, the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain (DSWA-GB) certifications at its Training Center in Dummerston VT, and occasional other sites in the USA.  The certification consists of four levels, each applied for and tested separately:  Initial (Level I), Intermediate (Level II), Advanced (Level III), and Master Craftsman (Level IV).

The certifications are designed to ensure that dry stone wallers achieve the highest standards of craftsmanship for their experience and training level.  The difference in standards for dry stone walling between good and bad work is significant.  Hiring certified wallers provides a basis of quality work.

The DSWA’s certifications have become the world wide standard for evaluating wallers’ proficiency and quality.  The certifications began in the early 1970’s in Great Britain as a way to evaluate a waller’s skill, promote correct structural techniques, and help clients determine the capabilities of prospective wallers.

The Stone Trust administers all four levels of certification.  Certification tests are hands-on demonstrations of the wallers’ capabilities.  At each level the test walls are evaluated and scored by certified DSWA examiners.  Registration for each test must be submitted 6 weeks prior to the test date.  Tests are available to all individuals, amateurs and professionals alike.

Certification tests are rigorous and challenging at all levels.  All test candidates should be familiar with the correct structural techniques involved with building a dry stone wall.  Test candidates must start at Level I, and progressively work their way up.  Even very talented wallers typically take at least 4 years to over a decade to reach Master Craftsman.

Nearly all wallers will need to prepare for certification by taking workshop courses, pre-tests, and practicing on their own.

Benefits of becoming DSWA-GB certified:

  • Gives you a known standard for your quality of work
  • Provides clients, general contractors, and employers assurance of your capabilities
  • Gives you professional credentials
  • Improves your structural skills
  • Increases your speed and efficiency building
  • Distinguishes you from the competition
  • Increases your earning potential
  • Qualifies you for projects requiring certified wallers

Critical Information:

You will need to bring all the tools for shaping stone that you want use.  Most candidates find a having a selection of hammers and chisels necessary for passing Level II.  Do not bring power tools (diamond saws, hammer drills, grinders, etc).

It is highly recommended that you label your tools with your name!

You will need to build and set up your own batter frames as part of the test.  You will need to bring your own material to make a frame(s) (wood, rebar etc.  You will also need to bring any tools needed to assemble your frame (Drill, screws, nails, etc)  You will also want line pins for tying into the existing wall.

After you register online you must also fill out the DSWA Test Application Form available here for the 2023 Spring Certification Test and here for the 2023 Fall Certification Test.  Please email the completed form to This form is in addition to the online sign up and must be completed within 5 days of registering.  This is required in order for you to take your test.

Detailed info will also be emailed to you once you register including what to bring and directions.

Certification Course Quick Guide:

  • Challenging Professional Level test
  • 1-day: 8:15am-6:00pm
  • Must already be Level I Certified to take this test
  • Gives a Professional Level Qualification
  • Offered spring and fall

Time lapse video of a Certification Test Day at The Stone Trust:

Landscape Architects receive 7.5 credit hours for taking this workshop through the LA CES system.

Before you sign up for this Test, read this booklet!

Photos and mark sheet from a passing Level II Certification Test:

A passing Level 2 test wall
The back side of the same test wall

Upcoming 3.90 Level 2 Certification Tests:

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All Upcoming Dry Stone Waller (3.00) Level Courses

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