Electrical Exam Academy
Lesson 1: How we study
This is the technique that I paid $350.00 for in Colorado for my NEC exam. It was a great two week long class and I got a chance to really study hard.
First they had me take a 25 question test. When I say take a test I don't mean I guessed at every answer. I had my code book, calculator, scrap paper and pencils really trying to find each question to the best of my ability. I was in a quiet place and had 3 hours with no distractions.
"When studying for a test of this magnitude it is best if you don't have your phone, e-mail, kids, internet, or any other distraction. Just you and the practice test and whichever year code book your state is testing on."
I was instructed to find the word in the index of the NEC book that best fit the question and answer I was looking for. If the word I looked up in the index did not lead me to the exact (word for word) answer I would look up a different word or meaning of the question until I found the article. When I finished the practice test they graded it.
Now for the next hour I would go through the questions I got wrong and read the feedback they gave me. In a step by step manner I would read the question again, then go to the index of my code book and find the correct word or meaning of the question, go to the article it lead me to and read the article..
I became comfortable after a long period of time with indexing answers. Because the questions and answers were relevant, the articles I was studying and indexing were easily recognizable when I saw them on the test.
If I found the answer the first time I can trust I will find it again. I did not spend too much time on answers I got right.
Next was another 3 hours of quiet time and a 25 question test. Then another. Rinse and repeat. Index, calculations, definitions.
If you want to try this click here and check out the quizzes.
Using the practice test
Take all the test as if you don't know the answer. This means looking to the index to find the key word like "outlet" or some other word for each answer.
I know it will be painful at first but think of it as if you were on the job site and this question came up.
Example: You are wiring or bidding a house and you need to know what the maximum distance per code is you can place a receptacle? Well you may know the answer but can you find the article in the code book?
If you’re taking a timed test and they ask what article the answer is in. How long is it going take you to find it?
Well try and find the question above in your code book right now. You have 2.4 minutes. That is 4 hours divided by 100 questions. Or 240 minutes divided by 100.
This is the whole point of these practice exams.
Can you proficiently find the correct code article / answer to any question asked of you?
Lesson 2: What we study
Every state has their own NEC test.
GET YOUR BULLETIN: These Links are used with permission from PSI and Pearson VUE.
Pearson Vue: iccsafe.org CLICK HERE, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and select your state.
PSI: PSI online CLICK HERE, create an account and get your bulletin.
· Find out what reference material can be used on the exam. 2008, 2011, 2014 NEC, Ugly's, Legal documents, NFPA?
· Find out if you have to bring the reference material, or will it be provided. This includes calculators, code books, and scrap paper.
· Can you bring your own code book in? Can it have writing in it? Highlights?
· What are the administration questions based on? Can you bring them or must they be memorized?
Your bulletin will focus your studying.
The Study Guide will get you into the articles of the NEC, which the exam questions are based on.
Practice exams will strengthen your weak areas of understanding.
Lesson 3: TIPS
Look For Numbers
When your answer is a number like 4 1/2' and the index leads you to the article that is close like (334.30) but not exactly the one you looking for like 334.30(B)(2).
Drill down through the articles and sub-articles looking for that specific number. The numbers stand out.
Full-Load motor questions
When referencing full-load motor questions (usually for conductor, and disconnect sizing) use the tables in NEC section 430.
A great calculation reference is the Ugly's book.
Definitions are not just found in Article 100.
Take for example the definition Nominal Battery Voltage. You won't find it in Article 100 but you will find it in Storage Batteries article 480.2.
How else would you know that 1 cell = 2 Volts. The point is definitions are spread out over the entire NFPA 70.
Most articles are written with the Scope as the .1 and the Definitions as the .2.
I have not found any answers in the scope but I have found them in the definitions i.e. 1 cell= 2 Volts.
Article 220 Branch-Circuit, Feeders, and Service Calculations.
When a question is referencing a calculation or a load but really asking you what constant volt-amperes or percentage to use for a calculation or a load it will be found in Article 220 not in the section mentioned by the question.
Example: What is the percentage of the load used for calculating fixed electric space heating?
Well the answer is not in Article 424 it's in article 220.51. They are load questions.
Load questions will just say load in the index and reference article 220.
After you have found the article in the index that is related to your search. Drill down to see if your key words are in Sub categories or exceptions. Some articles you find in the index do not lead you exactly to the answer but close.
The Answers Might Be the Key
If you have a multiple choices A, B C, D and all the answers have the word duty or location in them try to index the word that is in the answer instead of the question. The question may never say the word duty or location.
Questions marked for review.
It is wise to answer questions that you have marked for review. That way if you run out of time at least some answer is there. If you have plenty of time left you can always change your answer.
Exact Numbers or Close Answers for Calculations
1. If you have taken the test you might have run across not having the exact answer to calculations. Using the closest answer has worked for me. I can't exactly explain it but sometimes were just a tenth off or something like that. If you’re pretty sure you did the calculation correctly don't dwell on it. Everybody I've talked with says the same thing.
2. Some calculations are easy and some are very difficult. Ace the easy ones leave the hard ones for review. Remember 220.5 says calculations shall be permitted to be rounded to the nearest whole ampere.
In states that allow an Ugly's book bring it. I found the tables very useful and quicker to get to then the tables in the code book. Specifically you will see questions on FULL-LOAD CURRENT IN AMPERES DIRECT CURRENT MOTORS, ELECTRICAL FORMULAS FOR CALCULATING AMPERS, HORSEPOWER, KILOWATTS AND KVA, OHMS LAW, SERIES CIRCUITS, and PARALLEL CIRCUITS.
Even if your state does not allow this book in the testing area it is a great reference for all the calculations on the test. You can use it as you go through the test which will get you back into doing calculations.
This book is your bible on the job. You will open it more than your code book especially when you’re bending pipe or finding a quick wire size or conduit fill. Here is my affiliate link so you can hook yourself up.
Questions on conductor ampacities
On circuits 100 amps or less you shall use the 60 degree C (140 degree F) rating for terminations on equipment (The Lugs). Section 110.14 (c)(1)(a).
This means for all questions that are looking for conductor sizes terminated to equipment you shall use the 60 degree column of table 310.15 (B)(16).
The question would have to specifically tell you the termination rating which then obviously you would use the rating they give you.
Assume there will be one or two questions directly related to finding the 60 degree C (140 F) size wire or ampacities.
How to answer exam questions
All of the exam questions can be found in the index.
You need to find the key word of the question. Once you think you have a good key word find it in the index. Check quickly to see if the article is the correct one. If it is not then find another word in the question or answer and index that one.
Quickly check that article and look at articles before and after see if you’re in the ball park. If you have choices between article 700 article 220 and article 400 you've got to look quick and move on.
Don't start reading the code book page by page unless it is your only option and even then only if you remember seeing the question in that section.
Index every word or synonyms of the words in the questions. Keep one hand in the index while the other is scanning articles for the answer. If that fails mark for review and move on. Some questions are just buried to deep. The best answers will be word for word out of the code book.