How to Prepare for an Electrical Exam

    • Studies have concluded that for students to get their best grades, they must learn to get the most from their natural abilities. It's not how long you study or how high your IQ is, it's what you do and how you study that counts. To get your best grade, you must make a decision to do your best and follow as many of the following techniques as possible.

      Attitude. Maintaining a positive attitude is important. It helps keep you going and helps keep you from getting discouraged.

      Communication With Your Family. Good communication with your family members is very important. Studying every night and on weekends may cause tension. Try to get their support, cooperation, and encouragement during this trying time. Let them know the benefits. Be sure to plan some special time with them during this preparation period; don't go overboard and leave them alone too long.

      Eye Care. It is very important to have your eyes checked! Human beings were not designed to do constant seeing less than arm's length away. Our eyes were designed for survival, spotting food and enemies at a distance. Your eyes will be under tremendous stress because of prolonged, near-vision reading, which can result in headaches, fatigue, nausea, squinting, or eyes that burn, ache, water, or tire easily. Be sure to tell the eye doctor that you are studying to pass an exam (bring this book and the Code Book), and you expect to do a tremendous amount of reading and writing. Prescribed nearpoint lenses can reduce eye discomfort while making learning more enjoyable and efficient.

      Eye Strain. Be sure to look up occasionally, away from near tasks to distant objects. Your work area should be three times brighter than the rest of the room. Don't read under a single lamp in a dark room. Try to eliminate glare. Mixing of fluorescent and incandescent lighting can be helpful. Sit straight, chest up, shoulders back, and weight over the seat so both eyes are an equal distance from what is being seen.

      Organized. Our lives are so busy that simply making time for homework and exam preparation is almost impossible. You can't waste time looking for a pencil or missing paper. Keep everything you need together. Maintain folders, one for notes, one for exams and answer keys, and one for miscellaneous items. It is very important that you have a private study area available at all times. Keep your materials there. The dinning room table is not a good spot.

      Reading. Review the book's contents and graphics. This will help you develop a sense of the material. Clean Up Your Act. Keep all of your papers neat, clean, and organized. Now is not the time to be sloppy. If you are not neat, now is an excellent time to begin.

      Reality. These instructions are a basic guide to help you get the maximum grade. It is unreasonable to think that all of the instructions can be followed to the letter all of the time. Day-to-day events and unexpected situations must be taken into consideration.

      Set Priorities. Once you begin your study, stop all phone calls, TV shows, radio, snacks, and other interruptions. You can always take care of it later.

      Speak Up In Class. If you are in a classroom setting, the most important part of the learning process is class participation. If you don't understand the instructor's point, ask for clarification. Don't try to get attention by asking questions you already know the answer to.

      Stress. Stress can really take the wind out of you. It takes practice, but get into the habit of relaxing before you begin your studies. Stretch; do a few sit-ups and push-ups; take a 20-minute walk or a few slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes for a couple of minutes; deliberately relax the muscle groups that are associated with tension, such as the shoulders, back, neck, and jaw.

      Study With A Friend. Studying with a friend can make learning more enjoyable. You can push and encourage each other. You are more likely to study if someone else is depending on you. Students who study together perform above average because they try different approaches and explain their solutions to each other. Those who study alone spend most of their time reading and rereading the text and trying the same approach time after time even though it is unsuccessful. Study Anywhere/Anytime. To make the most of your limited time, always keep a copy of the book(s) with you. Any time you get a minute free, study. Continue to study any chance you get. You can study at the supply house when waiting for your material; you can study during your coffee break, or even while you are at the doctor's office. Become creative! You need to find your best study time. For some it could be late at night when the house is quiet. For others, it's the first thing in the morning before things get going.

      Support. You need encouragement in your studies and you need support from your loved ones and employer. To properly prepare for your exam, you need to study 10 to 15 hours per week for about 3 to 6 months.

      Time Management. Time management and planning is very important. There simply are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Make a schedule that allows time for work, rest, study, meals, family, and recreation. Establish a schedule that is consistent from day to day. Have a calendar and immediately plan your homework. Follow it at all costs. Try not to procrastinate (put off something). Try to follow the same routine each week and try not to become overtired. Learn to pace yourself to accomplish as much as you can without the need for cramming.

      Training. Preparing for the exam is the same as training for any event. Get plenty of rest and avoid intoxicating drugs, including alcohol. Stretch or exercise each day for at least 10 minutes. Eat light meals such as pasta, chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit, etc. Try to avoid heavy foods, such as red meats, butter, and other high-fat foods. They slow you down and make you tired and sleepy.

    • To pass your exam, you must learn effectively, and you must develop an attitude that learning is a process that will help you grow both personally and professionally. The learning process has an emotional as well as an intellectual component that we must recognize. To understand what affects our learning, consider the following:

      Dependence and Independence. The dependent person is afraid of disapproval and often will not participate in class discussion and will tend to wrestle alone. The independent person spends too much time asserting differences and too little time trying to understand others' views.

      Egocentric. Our ego tendency is to prove someone is wrong, with a victorious surge of pride. Learning together without a win/lose attitude can be an exhilarating learning experience.

      Emotional. It is difficult to discard our cherished ideas in the face of contrary facts when overpowered by the logic of others.

      Fear. Most of us feel insecure and afraid with learning, until we understand what is going to happen and what our role will be. We fear that our performance will not match the standard set by us or others.

      Positive Image. Many feel disturbed by the expectations of being treated like children and we often feel threatened with the learning experience.

      Resistance To Change. People tend to resist change and resist information that appears to threaten their comfort level of knowledge. However, we often support new ideas that support our existing beliefs.

      Uniqueness. Each of us will understand the subject matter from different perspectives and we all have some unique learning problems and needs.

    • Top 10 Tips for Passing Your Exam — Click Here

      Being prepared for an exam means more than just knowing electrical concepts, the Code, and the calculations. Have you felt prepared for an exam, then choke when actually taking it? Many good and knowledgeable electricians couldn't pass their exam because they did not know how to take an exam. Taking exams is a learned process that takes practice and involves strategies. The following suggestions are designed to help you learn these methods.

      Proper Supplies. First of all, make sure you have everything needed several days before the exam. The night before the exam is not the time to be out buying pencils, calculators, and batteries. The night before the exam, you should have a checklist (prepared in advance) of everything you could possibly need. The following is a sample checklist to get you started.

      Six sharpened #2H pencils or two mechanical pens with extra #2H leads. The kind with the larger leads are faster and better for filling in the answer circles.

      Two calculators, just in case. Most examining boards require quiet, paperless calculators. Solar calculators are great, but there may not be enough light to operate them.

      Spare batteries. Two sets of extra batteries should be taken. It's very unlikely you'll need them but.

      Extra glasses if you use them.

      Have all of your reference materials, even the ones not on the list. Let the proctors tell you which ones are not permitted.

      A thermos of something you like to drink. Coffee is excellent.

      Some fruit, nuts, candy, aspirin, analgesic, etc.

      The Night Before. Take time the night before to:

      1. Lay out the clothes you are going to wear and make sure they are comfortable, and pressed.
      2. Make sure that you have directions, and your admittance slip for the test-taking location. The last thing you need is to get lost on the way to your exam. Know where the exam is going to take place and how long it takes to get there. Arrive at least 30 minutes early. It's a good idea to pack a lunch rather than going out. It can give you a little time to review the material for the afternoon portion of the exam, and it reduces the chance of coming back late.
      3. Make sure you eat a healthy dinner. This includes vegetables, lean meat, and rice or pasta. Don't eat too late or you won't be able to fall asleep.
      4. In the morning, have a light breakfast. If your test is in the evening, make sure to have a light snack before heading off to your test.

      Relax. This is easier said than done, but it is one of the most important factors in passing your exam. Stress and tension cause us to choke or forget. Everyone has had experiences where they get tense and couldn't think straight. The first step is becoming aware of the tension and the second step is to make a deliberate effort to relax. Make sure you're comfortable; remove clothes if you are hot, or put on a jacket if you are cold. There are many ways to relax and you have to find a method that works for you. Two of the easiest methods that work very well for many people follow:

      Breathing Technique: This consists of two or three slow deep breaths every few minutes. Be careful not to confuse this with hyperventilation, which is abnormally fast breathing.

      Single-Muscle Relaxation: When we are tense or stressful, many of us do things like clench our jaw, squint our eyes, or tense our shoulders without even being aware of it. If you find a muscle group that does this, deliberately relax that one group. The rest of the muscles will automatically relax also. Try to repeat this every few minutes, and it will help you stay more relaxed during the exam.

      Skip The Difficult Questions. To answer a question correctly, you must first understand the question. One word in a question can totally change the meaning of it. Carefully read every word of every question. Underlining key words in the question will help you focus. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to answer one question before going on to the next one. The irony is that the question you get stuck on is one that you will probably get wrong anyway no matter how much time you spend on it. This will result in not having enough time to answer the easy questions. You will get all stressed-out and a chain reaction is started. More people fail their exams this way than for any other reason. The following strategy should be used to avoid getting into this situation.

      First Pass: Answer the questions you know. Give yourself about 30 seconds for each question. If you can't find the answer in your reference book within the 30 seconds, go on to the next question. Chances are that you'll come across the answers while looking up another question. The total time for the first pass should be 25 percent of the exam time.

      Second Pass: This pass is done the same as the first pass except that you allow a little more time for each question, about 60 seconds. If you still can't find the answer, go on to the next one. Don't get stuck. Total time for the second pass should be about 30 percent of the exam time.

      Third Pass: See how much time is left and subtract 30 minutes. Spend the remaining time equally on each question. If you still haven't answered the question, it's time to make an educated guess. Never leave a question unanswered.

      Fourth Pass: Use the last 30 minutes of the exam to transfer your answers from the exam booklet to the answer key. Read each question and verify that you selected the correct answer on the test book. Transfer the answers carefully to the answer key. With the remaining time, see if you can find the answer to those questions you guessed at.

      Remember, in the first pass answer only the easy questions. In the second pass, spend a little more time per question, but don't get stuck. In the third pass, use the remainder of the time minus 30 minutes. In the fourth pass, check your work and transfer the answers to the answer key.

      Changing Answers. When re-reading the question and checking the answers during the fourth pass, resist the urge to change an answer. In most cases, your first choice is best and if you aren't sure, stick with the first choice. Only change answers if you are sure you made a mistake. Multiple choice exams are graded electronically so be sure to thoroughly erase any answer that you changed. Also erase any stray pencil marks from the answer sheet.

      Check Your Work. The first thing to check (and you should be watching out for this during the whole exam) is to make sure you mark the answer in the correct spot. People have failed the exam by 1/2 of a point. When they reviewed their exam, they found they correctly answered several questions on the test booklet, but marked the wrong spot on the exam answer sheet. They knew the answer was "(b) False", but marked in "(d)" in error. Another thing to be very careful of, is marking the answer for, let's say question 7, in the spot reserved for question 8.

      Guessing. When time is running out and you still have questions remaining, GUESS! Never leave a question unanswered. You can improve your chances of getting a question correct by the process of elimination. When one of the choices is None of these, or None of the above, it is usually not the correct answer. This improves your chances from one-out-four (25 percent), to one-out-three (33 percent). Guess "All of these" or "All of the Above", and don't select the high or low number. How do you pick one of the remaining answers? Some people toss a coin, others will count up how many of the answers were A's, B's, C's, and D's and use the one with the most as the basis for their guess.

      Know where the exam is going to take place and how long it takes to get there. Arrive at least 30 minutes early. It'is a good idea to pack a lunch rather than going out. It can give you a little time to review the material for the afternoon portion of the exam, and it reduces the chance of coming back late.

      Rounding. You should always round your answers to the same number of places as the exam's answers. Numbers below .5 are rounded down, while numbers .5 and above are rounded up.

      Example: If an exam has multiple choice of: "(a) 2.2, (b) 2.1, (c) 2.3, and (d) none of these", and your calculation comes out to 2.16, do not choose the answer "(d) none of these". The correct answer is (b) 2.2, because the responses are rounded off to the tenth.

      Example: It could be rounded to tens, such as: "(a) 50, (b) 60, (c) 70, and (d) none of these". For this group, an answer such as 67 would be (c) 70, while an answer of 63 would be (b) 60.

      The general rule is to check the question's choice of answers then round off your answer to match it.


      • Make sure everything is ready and packed the night before the exam.

      • Don't try to cram the night before the exam, if you don't know it by then.

      • Have a good breakfast.

      • Get the thermos and energy snacks ready.

      • Take all your reference books.

      • Let the proctors tell you what you can't use.

      • Know where the exam is to be held and be there early.

      • Bring ID and your confirmation papers from the license board if there are any.

      • Review your NEC while you wait for your exam to begin.

      • Try to stay relaxed.

      • Determine the time per question for each pass and don't forget to save 30
         minutes for transferring your answers to the answer key.

      • Don't get stuck on any one question.

      • Read each question carefully.

      • Be sure you are marking the answer in the correct spot on the answer sheet.

      • Don't get flustered or extremely tense.


Passing the electrical exam is the dream of every electrician; unfortunately, many don't pass the first time. People fail their exam primarily because they are not prepared on the technical material and/or on what it takes to properly prepare for an exam. Typically, an electrical exam contains 25 percent Electrical Theory/Basic Calculations, 40 percent National Electrical Code and 35 percent NEC Calculations. Mike’s materials have been designed to guide you through the process and help you pass the first time. There are lots of different programs suited to your individual needs.

  • Textbooks with hundreds of explanations, illustrations, examples, and over 2,800 practice questions covering all these subjects in a writing style that is informal and relaxed and easy to understand.
  • DVD Packages that allow you to watch Mike in action and experience his dynamic teaching style while you work through the textbooks and exam practice questions.

Visit our Exam Preparation products page; and please call us at 888.632.2633 for additional information and for help in designing a program that is specialized for your needs.

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