"What you don't know about HOW to take these exams CAN cost you 15 to 20 points off of your potential score."
There are many states that offer the ICC Master Electrician's Exam as well as the Journeyman Electrician's Exams. Our firm has tracked and sat for many of these exams throughout the years. We have a better understanding of the author's questions and intentions, than the author probably has himself.
Many electricians sit and cram for the weeks leading up to their exam and our experience has been that they average around only a 25% first time passing rate, when studying unassisted. This is NOT a call for alarm, rather it's simply to drive home a point: Getting back ground information on HOW to pass the ICC Electrical exam can be almost as important as KNOWING what information will be on the exam! Just knowing a few key items and understanding WHAT the authors are looking for in an answer can add 10 to 20 points to a final score. That can make a major difference in passing or having to continue to re-exam. We've seen electricians take the same exam 5, 6, even 7 or 8 times, and never really understand WHY they keep failing. We know exactly why, and that is what this blog is about.
Half the battle of passing your exam is knowing the strategy and reasoning BEHIND the ICC's questions. We have seen many an experienced, knowledgeable master electrician fail their exam just because they don't know the mine fields to the ICC author's mindset. Even the way you should attack the questions during your first initial 15 to 45 minutes of your exam can have a critical and dramatic impact in your overall score.
To give you a list of every detailed strategy, would take an entire book's worth of blogs. So we will look at just a few major issues and how to address them in this edition.
First, know how and when to apply Code "Exceptions" in formulating your answers.
Next, because of the weighted "scoring system" employed by the ICC exam makers, understand the importance of your initial review/answering strategy.
Finally, watch out for questions within questions - be aware of "context" installation clues.
NEC Articles are full of exceptions. There are exceptions to almost 50% of the most important sections in the code book. The use or disregarding of an exception can completely change an answer to an exam question. Motor overcurrent protection is a prime example. Article T430.52 is the table employed when sizing fuses or breakers to protect a motor installation. In fact, because there are TWO separate exceptions to this table, there will be THREE different answers to a circuit protection question. Alone, ignoring exceptions, T430.52 is a NOT TO EXCEED table of values. In other words, you would round DOWN in that instance. The use of exception #1 allows for the sizing UP to the next larger protective device size. Exception #2's use would allow for even larger calculable values but then they would require a DOWN sizing after all calculations have been performed. You now have 3 separate answers to the SAME exact motor installation. Now, do you choose to IGNORE the exception, employ exception #1, or implement the values in exception #2? You can see now why it is CRITICAL to understand how and when to apply exceptions.
Stay tuned for Part II coming this weekend! We'll get you up to speed for your exam and passed the first time!