Wondering where to start? The first thing you need to do is understand the scope of the licensing options in your state and the level of experience needed to qualify to test for that level of license. In NC, all that information is located in the Candidate Information Bulletin produced by the NC Electrical Board and published by PSI (who will ultimately be administering the exam). Most states have a similar bulletin that can either be accessed through their electrical board’s website or through PSI or their test administrator. Take the time to read through your bulletin and have a clear sense of what you are wanting to do with your license (think ahead to your future!) and then determine if you have the experience required to take the exam. If applicable, consider completing the licensing application (in NC it is located at the back of the Candidate Information Bulletin).
Once you have determined the level of license for which you are testing and whether or not you qualify to take the exam, it is now a good time to start preparing yourself for the test. Most bulletins will outline the content on which you will be tested (i.e. 9 questions on bonding and grounding, 4 questions on overcurrent protection, etc.) and the reference materials you will need to study. Also, most states are open book or at least partially open book so purchasing those reference materials is important for your success. Learners come through JCR’s Exam Preparation course at various times in this process based on their comfort level in using the NEC®, their practical experience in performing calculations based on the NEC®, and their desire commitment to dedicate time for learning skills need to be successful. We do not aim for you to just pass, we aim for you to excel both on the exam and in your career!
A few of helpful tips:
- Make sure you have the most recent copy of your state’s information bulletin. These have the ability to change quickly and quietly so accessing the bulletin directly from PSI (or the test administrator) is generally the best option.
- Make sure you have the correct reference and study material and know if you will be able to bring it into the exam. Most states do not allow you to write in your code book but you can highlight and make permanent tabs. However, other states, like North Carolina, do not allow you to bring in ANY material into your exam. Knowing what you will be able to do ahead of time will help you as you study and become more familiar with these professional reference documents.
- Do not memorize answers to sample test questions. This is a murky trap that students fall into as they try and absorb too much information too fast versus understanding the process of finding the answers to the questions within the code.
- Develop a study plan (kind of like an exercise routine) and commit to sticking to it. One hour each day of study will generally result in higher intellectual development (and will help you stay more mentally and emotionally grounded) than cramming in the material but ultimately, everyone has varying familiarity with the material and formal tests…so, your study plan depends on you being honest and realistic with you! However, be mindful that once your application has been approved by the state electrical board, you will be within a time limitation to take your exam.