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Purpose of the State Examination​​​

The test does not determine if you are a qualified electrician.  The test is to determine if you can use the NEC.  Therefore the questions will be designed to test your ability to find answers in the NEC. They will not be designed to test your practical knowledge of the electrical trade.  This is why so many people have a difficulty with the test.

The State of Colorado CANNOT test you effectively and determine if you are a qualified electrician.  They can make you responsible for the installations you work on as a licensed electrician.  So, they have decided to test you on the Code that you will be held responsible to.

The Key to the Test​

Based on this principal, the key to successfully passing the test is to learn how to maneuver through the NEC effectively and efficiently.  This module will show how to do this and will also help you learn to understand the language of the NEC to ensure you can answer the questions correctly.  We will do this using the “Targeting Method” of finding things in the NEC.

Keep in mind, that you are timed and you will be aware of that. This has an impact on you psychologically. Everything you can do to make your job easier will help.

Taking the Test

You must bring the following items with you to the test center:
-Two forms of official Identification
-No money will be accepted at the test center. Tests must be prepaid
-Three sharpened #2 pencils (These will no longer be supplied at the test center)
-Your testing confirmation number
-Calculator (Must be non printing and silent and Dual powered)
-No alpha key board

You cannot bring the following items with to the test center:
-Books and study material
-Cellular phones or pagers
-Cameras or recording devices
-PDAs
-Scratch paper
-Food or drink
-Some testing centers allow snacks that are not “noisy”

Helpful Hints

Do not let it get to you. You can do this.

-Schedule an afternoon test
-Get plenty of sleep
-Do not study the night before the test
-Do not tell anyone when you are taking the test (Remember: It is an important test, but it is only a test.)
-If you can not find a question in 2 minutes or less, skip it and come back to it after you have finished your calculations
-Trust your first instincts.  They are usually correct
-Use the Three Pass Method.  It is proven…it works

Three Pass Method

All experts agree that the best way to take an examination is to read all the questions before answering any of the questions. Most people rebel against this principal. Relax…let go of the rebellion. It really does work and that has been proven over and over.

First Pass: Read the questions and only answer those questions that you know the answer to right off the top of your head.  Do not be disappointed if that is only a handful. The state is really testing you on your ability to the use the code book, not your knowledge. They don’t ask a lot of questions that the average electrician will know the answer off the top of his head.

Second Pass: Once you have read all the questions, return to the beginning and begin answering the questions by looking them up.  Do not spend large amounts of time on a single question.  If you don’t find the answer in a couple of minutes, skip it and go on.  Remember: Each question is equally weighted on you score.

Third Pass: After passing through the test the second time, return to the beginning and answer all your calculation questions.  At this point be aware of your remaining time.  Once you get to 15 minute remaining, if you have not answered all your questions, go to the unanswered questions and guess at an answer. You have a 25% percent chance of getting them right.  A no answer is 100% wrong.

If you have time left over after answering the calculation questions, go back and try to find the answers to those look questions you could not find in the second pass through.  Be sure to answer all the questions, even if you have to guess.  Do not review your answers to look up questions. Your first answer was probably right.  Don’t spend your extra time second guessing yourself.  If you have time, redo your calculations and see if you get the same answer.


Test Content

Each test consists of 90 Questions plus 10 questions that are not graded.  You will not know which are the 10 un-graded questions.  You have 4 ½ hours to complete the test.  That is a little under 3 minutes per question

The Journeyman's test content consists of the following:
-Raceways
-Conductors and Cables
-Services and Overcurrent
-Grounding and Bonding
-Feeder and Branch Circuit
-Motors and Generators
-Equipment Use
-Calculations

*The Master's test contains different percentages of questions in each of these categories. 

The test is actually a database of numerous questions. Each question is assigned a category code.  Some questions are assigned multiple category codes.  For example: A question concerning how many conductors that can be placed inside a certain raceway could be classified as a raceway question and a calculations question.  All of the aforementioned categories are on every test. Each test type contains different amounts of each question category. 

How Each Test is Generated

The day you take your test, your picture is taken, your data entered into the testing main computer and a cartridge is inserted into the main computer. The computer randomly draws questions according to the percentages and generates your test.  The cartridge is then inserted into your testing module computer and your test is ready to go.'

This generation process makes each test somewhat unique.  The database is limited, however, and we will include in your preparation process questions that repeatedly come up on the test.  The other thing that is somewhat random is the number of calculations.

Calculations

Some people will tell you that you can answer all your calculations incorrectly and still pass the test. This used to be true when there were set tests and set amounts of calculations.  This is no longer true, since some calculations can be used as questions in a category other than the calculations category.  Don't worry, we will be sure you are ready to deal with the calculations.

Hint: I have known people that have spent hours attempting to memorize information for the test. This is a waste of time. There are only three things that you need to memorize for the test. Everything else can be looked up.

What Do I Need To Know?

There are only three things you need to know for these tests: Ohm's Law, Voltage Drop, and Calculation Steps

Ohm's Law

Ohms law is simple to memorize. You will not need to memorize all 12 formulas of Ohms law.  You just need to know how to use the circles below. 














To use the circles, determine which circle contains the two values you have and the one value you need. Place your thumb over the value you want to find and do the operation left in the circle.

Example:  A circuit powered by 12 VDC contains 10 ohms resistance. What is the current in the circuit?
Use the circle on the right. Cover the I. The remaining operation is E/R
Therefore 12/10=1.2 amperes

Experiment with using these wheels and you will find that answering ohm’s law questions is quite simple and does not require extensive memorization.

Voltage Drop

The next memorized calculation is the voltage drop calculation.  This can not be found anywhere in the code book.  The formula can be remembered by using the following mnemonic device: Two Kiddies By A Cute Mom Named Victor and David.

This mnemonic is written as the acronyms like this: 2KDI / CM=VD
-2 is the number 2
-K is the resistance constant
-D is the length of the circuit measure one way
-CM is the circular mills of the wire
-VD is the Voltage Drop

Many people will tell you to memorize the K values for copper and aluminum wire. This is not necessary. They can be found in your code book if you know how they are developed. The K value is the amount of resistance of 1000 units of 1000kCMIL wire multiplied by 1000
Hint: Notice I said 1000 units not feet or meters. This is because the K value changes depending on metric or standard measurements. This is very handy knowledge. You can do a VD calculation without converting the metric distance to standard.

To determine the K value you will use Table 8 in the NEC. (70-635).  Find the Size column and run your finger down the column until you come to 1000kcmil.  Notice at the top of the Table you have columns for Coated Copper, Uncoated Copper and Aluminum wire.  And each category is divided into ohms per 1000 feet and ohms per 1000 meters.

The coated copper column is used only when you are using a specially coated, corrosive resistant wire. Coated does not mean insulated.  We always use the uncoated copper columns unless instructed otherwise.

You can do the same thing is you are determining the K value for a problem that is using metric lengths.  This time run your finger across the table until you come to Ohms per 1000 meters.  The table reads .0423. Multiply this number by 1000, which equals 42.3.  The K value for uncoated copper wire for a problem measured in meters is 42.3.