Study Tips For The Certificate Of Qualification Electrician Licensing Exam

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Construction and Maintenance Electrician is one of 55 trades in Canada that requires tradespeople to become a licensed journeyperson by your province or territory.

After completing an apprenticeship, you are required to pass the inter-provincial exam called the Certificate of Qualification.

Earning at least 70% on the C of Q exam (a passing grade) is one of the biggest challenges for many aspiring Electricians.

Leo Bitonte, a Journeyman Electrician who challenged and passed the C of Q last year, and Sam Mallak from electricalexam.ca, a company that offers pre-exam tutoring in Canada, provide insight into common challenges and solutions that will help you study effectively, pass the C of Q and earn your license.

How you’re approaching the exam:

You’re taking shortcuts

Don’t rely on your friends to tell you about the questions on their exam (they’re constantly changing) and don’t buy outdated books because you think you’re saving money. Learn the content you’re required to know because employers are looking to hire  licensed Electricians who are knowledgeable, Sam says.

“There’s too much to know”

It’s true, there’s a lot of content to study and learn. So don’t cram, Leo says. Enroll in a pre-exam course that teaches you the ins and outs of the C of Q.

You’re aiming for perfection

While it’s nice to score as close to 100% as possible, all you need is 70% to pass. Whether you score a 71 or 99, it doesn’t matter and it’s not necessarily reflective of how you will perform as an electrician. But scoring 69% does—anything below a 70 is a failing score.

How you’re studying the code:

You’re studying the provincial/territorial code

The C of Q exam tests apprentices on the Canadian Electrical Code since Electricians earn an inter-provincial license. There might be discrepancies between the provincial or territorial and national codes, so be sure to always refer to the Canadian Electrical Code when you’re answering questions on your exam.

“The code makes no sense”

Ask your instructors or supervisor for clarification if you’re confused about the Canadian Electrical Code. And if you’re really having trouble, buy a simplified version that dissects each section, explains how the codes are applied and comments on how codes relate to one another.

“The codebook is too big”

Learning how to use the codebook aspect most students struggle with, Sam says. You can’t bring your codebook into the exam, so don’t just rely on your notes. Leo stresses the importance of knowing how to find sections and aspects of the code. So get familiar with the index, appendix and tables.

You score less than 90% on your Electrician Self-Assessment Tool

Electricalexam.ca suggests that students score more than 90% on their ESAT before writing the actual test. Sam says you should phone the ministry to confirm the edition of the Canadian Electrical Code they will be tested on (either 2009 or 2012).

How you’re practicing:

“The wording of these questions is confusing”

The more you practice writing tests, the more familiar you’ll become with how questions are written and structured.

“Some questions cover things I’ve never done before”

Be conscious of the exam throughout trade school and take every lesson seriously – even if you think it’s not relevant for your apprenticeship.

“There’s not enough time”

You get three hours to complete the exam. When you’re completing practice exams, imitate the testing environment and time yourself.

When you’re writing the exam, Leo suggests answering all the questions you know first and skipping the ones you don’t. Remember, all you need to pass is 70% so if you don’t know the answer, guess. But monitor how much time you spend on each question.

If you’re studying for or have already passed the C of Q, what are your best studying tips?

Skilled Trades Week on TalentEgg featuring jobs and apprenticeships from Teck Resources, CN, SGS and Molson Coors

Photo credit: Svein Halvor Halvorsen

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About the author

Christina Pellegrini has recently completed her BBA in marketing and organizational behaviour at the Schulich School of Business. She is studying for her Master's of Journalism at Ryerson University and looks forward to a career in business journalism. Follow her on Twitter at @chris_pelle.