New approach for Contractor Exams

Time saving contractor exam technique? You decide.

One of my students shared this novel contractor exam taking technique with me and I decided to pass it along. I must say that this technique makes a lot of sense to me but I have not tried it myself.

Let’s suppose we are taking the H-3 Class I exam. PSI’s exams are formatted so with each new question forces you to use a different reference book. Constantly switching reference books to look answers eats up time and time is a precious commodity.

The Technique

What if, on our scratch piece of paper, we make a separate column for each reference book. Then we go through the entire exam and write down the question number in the appropriate reference column. Then we go back and answer all questions in each column using one reference book at a time. I like simple.


Example Technique

Heating Group 3 Class 1

Will this method work for you?

One sure way to find out is to sign up for my contractor practice exams. You get two attempts, so try the first exam using this technique and the second the traditional way. Good luck and Godspeed!

How to read Code

How to read Code

I have noticed different people read code differently. After all we are human. Let me explain; when working in the field, doesn’t every jurisdiction enforce the code differently? You really have to know your inspector. I recommend that you develop a relationship with each AHJ, buts that’s a whole another article. When reading code for exam purposes, read the code word for word. Do not add anything and do not take away anything. Make sure you have mastered code terminology (especially Plumbers). When working out in the field, read the code the way your building inspector does. Life is good!

Sweet Success

Sweet Success!

There is nothing better than receiving a call from an excited client exclaiming – “I passed, thanks for your help!” To serve is quite an honor.

Dave has been plumbing all of his life.
He simply loves it. He is the kind of plumber that I would want to work for. Of course being from the “old school”, he is a hands-on plumber. He gets his direction from a building plan not from code books. I mean, who has installed a 2 ½ inch pipe? Dave had a lot of anxiety going in to the Plumbing Exam. He had not cracked a book for 30 yrs. And why should he, everything he needed was on the plans or in his head. Without a doubt, he can out-plumb 99% of today’s plumbers but can he forget about real world plumbing and pass an exam that comes from code books?

Yes he can!
I ask what helped him be successful. He thanked me for showing him what to study. His look-up speeds increased and his exam anxiety decreased.

Can I serve you?

Go back and review your missed exam

Make the effort!

One of my customers just gave me call. He was excited about passing the Business portion of the exam. It was his second attempt. I ask him about his approach and what helped the most. According to him, going back and reviewing the exam made all the difference. You have to send a written request to the North Carolina Board of Examiners to view your missed exam.

Here is what you get

  • The exam questions you missed
  • The answer you gave for each exam question
  • North Carolina Examination Score Report

Most Important

He used the Examination Score Report to identify the areas that he did poorly on and concentrated his study to those areas. Why study the areas that you did good on? Now you can maximize study time and pave the way for your success.

Total Number
Laws, Rules and Code Administration – 2
Thermal and Moisture Protection – 5
Piping and Tubing – 5
Piping Insulation – 1
Hangers and Supports- 3
Mechanical Isolation – 3
Heating and Cooling Principles – 3
Refrigerants – 4
Load Calculations – 11
Comfort Equipment – 3
Test, Adjusting and Balancing – 2
Controls – 4
Air Conditioning Systems – 2
Furnaces – 2
Specialized Heaters – 1
Specific Appliances – 1
Chimneys, Flues, Vents and Vent CNC – 2
Combustions Air – 2
General Fuel Knowledge – 1
Natural Gas – 1
LP Gas – 1
Fuel Oil – 1
Duct Systems – 18
Filtering Systems – 2
Ventilation Equipment and Devices – 2
Exhaust Systems – 1
Safety- 3
General Plan Reading – 4

Total – 90

PSI’s Exam Tutorial

PSI Exam Tutorial

On PSI’s website they have an exam tutorial that might be of some use to exam candidate. Each exam candidate is given 15 minutes before taking the actual exam to take a exam tutorial. You are given a choice between using specific keys or a mouse to take the examination. Personally, I prefer to use the mouse. The main point is that you do not have to be computer literate to take the actual exam.

The Benefits
• Gives the candidate basic information about the exam
• Shows the candidate the keys to use on the exam
• Demonstrates how the candidate can review the test
• Explains how to end the exam

Here is the link

Which is more important?

Which is more important?

Answering questions you can get right?
Struggling with hard questions that you may get right?

After talking to one of my successful students, he shared his successful approach to passing the Contractor Exam.
• His main focus was to answer all questions that could be
answered correct
• Put all hard questions “in the can” and save for last

Emotional Control is important!
Think about it, you just finished the Bus/Law portion. Fifty questions in 60 minutes, whew! Now you start the Contractor portion and right from the start you face the dreaded ACCA questions – “The Perfect Storm.” Give yourself a break, regroup and choose your questions wisely. Subject mastery and emotional control are both required to pass the Contractor Exam. Each correct answer brings you closer to your goal and breeds confidence. Every question that you struggle with, beats you down.

Keys to success

Subject mastery
o Efficient lookup skills
o Identify which reference book to use
Question selection
o Answer easy questions first
Emotional Control
o It’s all about your focus, one question at a time

You have to answer 70% of the exam questions correct to earn your Contractor License. Learn to let go the hard questions and save for the end of the exam.

Dealing with Failure

You worked hard, spent a lot of money, and still you did not pass your contractor exam. What next, give up? How we deal with failure determines our future. Failure can be a tough pill to swallow, its tough for me too! I flunked my first Contractor exam and I learned from the experience. First, view your experience as a learning lesson. Go back and look at your exam. The North Carolina Board of Examiners give you the opportunity to review your exam for free! Its a great deal. All you have to do is put a request in writing and you are allowed to review your exam for 1.5 hours. You will have to drive to Raleigh and invest more of your precious time. What you get to see is the questions you missed and the answer you gave. I think you will be surprised on what questions that were missed. Yes, you have to deal with failure again. If we could only change our perception and see this as a great learning experience that could very well lead us to the success we seek. Why waste our past effort and give up? The next exam viewing session is scheduled for Aug. 25th. Put a request in writing and go back and review. You only have to pass the contractor exam once!

The “Zen” Approach

When you are in the “battle” to pass the Contractor Exam, what is your focus? Many of my students indicate that the clock presents a major distraction! Their focus is on the clock. Tic -toc, time is running out. Pressure mounts, palms sweat, and the mind goes blank. OMG, I am running out of time, just look at the clock! Contractor Exam success is dependent on both mental control and subject mastery. So what is the answer? Its all about your focus. Pass the exam by focusing on one question at a time. The question before you is your only question. Not the last question that you did not know or the next question that you imagine that will throw you for a loop. Yes, this is a timed test – just look at the clock. If your focus is on the clock, not the one question you are trying to solve, can you guess what your results will be? Be aware of the clock but your focus is on just one question. Easier said than done. To perfect your focus, enroll in one of NCCTI’s Business and Project Management Practice Exams. Yes, the clock is ticking on screen. 50 questions in 60 minutes, palms sweat,  so where is your focus?

Contractor Exam Tips

Test Taking Strategies
1. Read all answers to multiple choice questions before selecting one. Be wary of “A” answers. Read the question and try to answer the question in your head, and then read answers.

2. Do not cram in the morning of test, or the night before.

3. Eat a light, your usual breakfast.

4. Arrive at the test site early, if time permits take a short walk.

5. Do not get up early and drive a long way. Stay away from coffee.

6. Pace yourself, do not get stuck on questions. Mark tough questions and come back. Make sure you answer all of the questions.

7. Remember, exams are not a matter of life and death. This test is not a measure of self worth or contractor skills.

8. If you find yourself incredibly anxious, try paying attention to your breathing. Breath slowly and deeply, fill your lungs so that your abdomen rises, scan your body and relax the muscles in your body.

9. Make sure you adjust your chair so that you are comfortable.

After the test
If you do not pass…

The Board of Examiners will allow you to review your exam. Pay the fee and go back and review!

Be Prepared, Be Successful
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