Need help in passing the apprentice, journeyman, or master electrician's exam? This is a book of questions and answers based on actual electrician's exams over the last few years.
Almost a thousand multiple-choice questions -- exactly the type you'll find on the exam -- cover every area of electrical installation: electrical drawings, services and systems, transformers, capacitors, distribution equipment, branch circuits, feeders, calculations, measuring and testing, and more. It gives you the correct answer, an explanation, and where to find it in the latest NEC. Also tells how to apply for the test, where to get your application form, how best to study, and what to expect on examination day.
This e-Book is the download version of the book in text searchable, PDF format. Craftsman eBooks are for use in the freely distributed Adobe Reader and are compatible with Reader 5.0 or above. Get Adobe Reader.
This is a tool every journeyman and master electrician candidate will find worth several times the small expense.
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Chapter 1, Electrical Systems - General Requirements, 13
Chapter 2, Electrical Calculations, 37
Chapter 3, Branch Circuits and Feeders, 59
Chapter 4, Electric Services, 89
Chapter 5, Distribution Equipment, 117
Chapter 6, Overcurrent Protection, 137
Chapter 7, Utilization Equipment, 163
Chapter 8, Measuring and Testing, 183
Chapter 9, Electric Motors and Motor Controls, 203
Chapter 10, Special Occupancies, 223
Chapter 11, Miscellaneous Applications 245
Chapter 12, Transformers and Capacitors 257
Chapter 13, Electrical Drawings, 269
Final Examination, 289
Using the Interactive Study Center CD, 340 (CD not available with eBook)
Appendix I, State Contractor's Examination Offices, 342
Appendix II, Answers to Final Exam Questions, 345
Introduction -- How to Use This Book
If you have been installing electrical systems for some time as an apprentice, helper, or unlicensed electrician, this book is for you. The information between the covers of this book will cover every subject that is likely to appear on most electrician's exams - either state or local.
If you are just starting your career as an apprentice electrician, this book is also for you. It begins at the beginning. You will have no trouble understanding what is explained here. Read each page carefully and you will soon earn the recognition that licensed professionals are entitled to in our present society. The financial rewards are another factor which will make your efforts worthwhile.
In most communities, any electrician working without supervision must be licensed. For larger electrical construction projects, many states now require the certification of journeyman electricians as well as specialty electricians, such as splicers of high-voltage cable. This trend is certain to continue as legislatures recognize the need to protect the public from incompetents. The state of Virginia, for example, is now requiring all persons doing electrical work to be licensed.
Most licensing authorities prepare demanding exams that are a good test of the examinee's know ledge. These exams help to guarantee that electrical systems installed in building construction will meet minimum standards for protecting the lives and health of building occupants (and the buildings themselves) for many years to come. This also helps to keep insurance rates to a minimum.
Begin your study for any electrician's exam with two points in mind:
You can pass any electrician's exam, but only if you study carefully each of the questions in this book. What you learn from studying is the foundation on which your professional career will be built.
Understand also that the licensing authority isn't the enemy. They aren't trying to keep you out of the electrical business. They only want to set some basic standards and be assured that your installations will be done in a workmanlike manner and in accordance with the latest edition of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®). The public should be assured that all licensed electricians are knowledgeable professionals. That's good for society in general, and it's good for all professional electricians and electrical contractors who live and work in your area.
Unfortunately, there are too many applicants who are not well prepared when they sit down to take the electrician's exam. Taking an electrician's exam without doing a good job of preparation is a complete waste of time - both yours and that of the licensing authority. The results are predictable. Don't make that mistake.
The most common reason for failure is that the applicant didn't study properly because he didn't know how, or studied the wrong material. This book should put an end to that excuse. You have in your hands the most complete, easiest-to-use, most practical reference available for preparing to take the tests that are actually given today. Read this book carefully, examine every question, understand all the answers. Do this, and there's no way you will be unprepared on examination day. You are almost certain to score high.
All the common questions and answers are here, but just knowing the answer is not always enough. Sometimes it is just as important to understand why a particular answer is correct. That's why many answers include a quotation or reference section from the National Electrical Code. Sometimes you will find notes or clarifications under the answer when there is an important point you might miss.
The National Electrical Code is used in practically every area of the United States for inspecting electrical systems in building construction. Most of the questions appearing on electrician's exams will come directly from Articles and Sections of the latest NEC. Therefore a brief review of the individual NEC sections that apply to electrical systems is in order. Sample questions concerning all sections of the NEC may be found in the chapters to follow.
This book, however, is not a substitute for the NEC. You need a copy of the most recent edition and it should be kept handy at all times. The more you know about the code, the more you are likely to refer to it.
There are two basic types of rules in the NEC: mandatory rules and advisory rules. Here is how to . recognize the two types of rules and how they relate to all types of electrical systems.
Mandatory rules: All mandatory rules have the terms shall or shall not in them. The terms mean must. If a rule is mandatory, you must comply with it.
Permissive rules: All advisory rules have the terms shall be permitted or shall not be required in them. The terms in this case mean recommended but not necessarily required. If a rule is advisory, compliance is discretionary. If you want to comply with it, do so. But you don't have to if you don't want to.
Be alert to local amendments to the NEC. Local ordinances may amend the language of the NEC, changing it from should to shall. This means that you must do in that county or city what may only be recommended in some other area. The office that issues building permits will either sell you a copy of the code that's enforced in that county or tell you where the code is sold.
Learning the Layout of the NEC
Begin your study of the NEC with Articles 100 and 110. These two articles have the basic information that will make the rest of the NEC easier to understand. Article 100 defines terms you will need to understand when you apply the code. Article 110 gives the general requirements for electrical installations. Read these two articles over several times until you are thoroughly familiar with all the information they contain. It's time well spent.
Once you're familiar with Articles 100 and 110, you can move on to the rest of the code. There are several key sections you will use often in servicing electrical systems. Let's discuss each of these important sections.
Wiring and Protection
Chapter 2 of the NEC discusses wiring design and protection, the information electrical technicians need most often. It covers the use and identification of grounded conductors, branch circuits, feeders, calculations, services, overcurrent protection, grounding and surge protection. This is essential information for any type of electrical system, regardless of the type.
Chapter 2 is also a "how-to" chapter. It explains how to provide proper spacing for conductor supports and how to size the proper grounding conductor or electrode. If you run into a problem related to the design or installation of a conventional electrical system, you can probably find a solution for it in this chapter.
Wiring Methods and Materials
Chapter 3 has the rules on wiring methods and materials. The materials and procedures to use on a particular system depend on the type of building construction, the type of occupancy, the location of the wiring in the building, the type of atmosphere in the building or in the area surrounding the building, mechanical factors and the relative costs of different wiring methods.
The provisions of this chapter apply to all wiring installations except remote control switching (Article 725), low-energy power circuits (Article 725), signal systems (Article 725), communication systems and conductors (Article 800) when these items form an integral part of equipment such as motors and motor controllers.
There are three basic wiring methods used in most modern electrical systems. Nearly all wiring methods are a variation of one of these three basic methods:
Article 310 in Chapter 3 gives a complete description of all types of electrical conductors. Electrical conductors come in a wide range of Sizes and forms. Be sure to check the working drawings and specifications to see what sizes and types of conductors are required for a specific job. If conductor type and size are not specified, choose the most appropriate type and size meeting standard NEC requirements.
Articles 312 through 392 give rules for raceways, boxes, cabinets and raceway fittings. Outlet boxes vary in size and shape, depending on their use, the size of the raceway, the number of conductors entering the box, the type of building construction, and the atmospheric condition of the areas. Chapter 3 should answer most questions on the selection and use of these items.
The NEC does not describe in detail all types and sizes of outlet boxes. But manufacturers of outlet boxes have excellent catalogs showing all of their products. Collect these catalogs. They're essential to your work.
Equipment for General Use
Chapter 4 of the NEC begins with the use and installation of flexible cords and cables, including the trade name, type, letter, wire size, number of conductors, conductor insulation, outer covering and use of each. The chapter also includes fixture wires, again giving the trade name, type, letter and other important details.
Article 404 covers the switches you will use to control electrical circuits.
Article 406 covers receptacles and convenience outlets used to connect portable equipment to electric circuits. Get the manufacturers' catalogs on these items. They will provide you with detailed descriptions of each of the wiring devices.
Article 408 covers switchboards and panelboards, including their location, installation methods, clearances, grounding and overcurrent protection.
Article 410 on lighting fixtures is especially important. It gives installation procedures for fixtures in specific locations. For example, it covers fixtures near combustible material and fixtures in closets. The NEC does not describe the number of fixtures needed in a given area to provide a certain amount of illumination.
Article 430 covers electric motors, including mounting the motor and making electrical connections to it.
Electrician's Exam Preparation Guide
Articles 440 through 460 cover air conditioning and heating equipment, transformers and capacitors.
Article 480 gives most requirements related to battery-operated electrical systems. Storage batteries are seldom thought of as part of a conventional electrical system, but they often provide standby emergency lighting service. They may also supply power to security systems that are separate from the main AC electrical system.
Chapter 5 of the NEC covers special occupancy areas. These are areas where the sparks generated by electrical equipment may cause an explosion or fire. The hazard may be due to the atmosphere of the area or just the presence of a volatile material in the area. Commercial garages, aircraft hangers and service stations are typical special occupancy locations.
Articles 500 through 503 cover the different types of special occupancy atmospheres where an explosion is possible. The atmospheric groups were established to make it easy to test and approve equipment for various types of uses.
Section 501 covers the installation of explosion proof wiring. An explosion-proof system is designed to prevent the ignition of a surrounding explosive atmosphere when arcing occurs within the electrical system.
There are three classes of special occupancy locations:
Articles 511 and 514 regulate garages and similar locations where volatile or flammable liquids are used. While these areas are not always considered critically hazardous locations, there may be enough danger to require special precautions in the electrical installation. In these areas, the NEC requires that volatile gases be confined to an area not more than 18 inches above the floor. So in most cases, conventional raceway systems are permitted above this level. If the area is judged critically hazardous, explosion-proof wiring (including seal-offs) may be required.
Article 520 regulates theaters and similar occupancies where fire and panic can cause hazards to life and property. Drive-in theaters do not present the same hazards as enclosed auditoriums. But the projection rooms and adjacent areas must be properly ventilated and wired for the protection of operating personnel and others using the area.
Chapter 5 also covers residential storage garages, aircraft hangars, agricultural buildings, service stations, bulk storage plants, health care facilities, marinas and boat yards, mobile homes and parks, and recreation vehicles and parks.
Article 600 covers electric signs and outline lighting. Article 610 applies to cranes and hoists. Article 620 covers the majority of the electrical work involved in the installation and operation of elevators, dumbwaiters, escalators and moving walks. The manufacturer is responsible for most of this work. The electrician usually just furnishes a feeder terminating in a means of disconnect in the bottom of the elevator shaft. The electrician may also be responsible for a lighting circuit to a junction box midway in the elevator shaft for connecting the elevator cage lighting cable and exhaust fans. Articles in Chapter 6 of the NEC give most of the requirements for these installations.
Article 630 regulates electric welding equipment. It is normally treated as a piece of industrial power equipment requiring a special power outlet. But there are special conditions that apply to the circuits supplying welding equipment. These are outlined in detail in Chapter 6 of the NEC.
Article 640 covers wiring for sound-recording and similar equipment. This type of equipment normally requires low-voltage wiring. Special outlet boxes or cabinets are usually provided with the equipment. But some items may be mounted in or on standard outlet boxes. Some sound-recording electrical systems require direct current, supplies from rectifying equipment, batteries or motor generators. Low-voltage alternating current comes from relatively small transformers connected on the primary side to a 120-volt circuit within the building.
Other items covered in Chapter 6 of the NEC include: X-ray equipment (Article 660), induction and dielectric heat-generating equipment (Article 665) and machine tools (Article 670).
If you ever have work that involves Chapter 6, study the chapter before work begins. That can save a lot of installation time. Here is another way to cut down on labor hours and prevent installation errors. Get a set of rough-in drawings of the equipment being installed. It is easy to install the wrong outlet box or to install the right box in the wrong place. Having a set of rough-in drawings can prevent those simple but costly errors.
In most commercial buildings, the NEC and local ordinances require a means of lighting public rooms, halls, stairways and entrances. There must be enough light to allow the occupants to exit from ~e building if the general building lighting is interrupted. Exit doors must be clearly indicated by illuminated exit signs.
Chapter 7 of the NEC covers the installation of emergency lighting systems. These circuits should be arranged so that they can automatically transfer to an alternate source of current, usually storage batteries or gasoline-drive generators. As an alternative, you can connect them to the supply side of the main service so disconnecting the main service switch would not disconnect the emergency circuits. See Article 700.
How to Prepare for the Exam
This book is a guide to preparing for the journeyman or master electrician's exam. It isn't a substitute for studying the recommended references and it won't teach you the electrical trade. But it will give you a complete knowledge of the type of questions asked in the electrician's exam. It will also give you a "feel" for the examination and provide some of the confidence you need to pass.
Emphasis is on multiple-choice questions because that's the style that nearly all tests utilize. Questions are grouped into chapters. Each chapter covers a single subject. This will help you discover your strengths and weaknesses. Then when you take the two "final" sample exams in the back of this book, analyze the questions you miss. You'll probably notice you are weaker in some subjects than others. When these areas have been discovered, you will know that further study is necessary in these areas.
In answering questions on the NEC, remember this point: All exam questions are based on minimum NEC requirements. If the minimum wire size permitted under the NEC to carry 20 amperes is No. 12 AWG and you answer No. 10 AWG (minimum size for 30 amperes) just to play it safe, your answer is incorrect.
The preparatory questions in the front part of this book have the answer after each question. When reading a question, cover the answer. Read the question carefully. Mark your answer on a separate sheet of paper before looking at the correct answer. Check to see if your answer is correct. If it isn't, read the code responses to find out why it is wrong.
How to Study
Set aside a definite time to study, following a schedule that meets your needs. Studying a couple of hours two or three nights each week is better than studying all day on, say, Saturdays. The average mind can only concentrate for approximately four hours without taking a break. There's no point in studying if you don't retain much of the information. Study alone most of the time, but spend a few hours reviewing with another electrician buddy before exam day. You can help each other dig out the facts and concepts you will need to pass the exam.
Try to study in a quiet, well-lighted room that is respected as your study space by family members and friends. If it's hard to find a spot like that in your home, go to the local library where others are reading and studying.
Before you begin to study, spend a few minutes getting into the right frame of mind. That's important. You don't have to be a genius to pass the electrician's exam. But good motivation will nearly guarantee your success. No one can provide that motivation but you. Getting your license is a goal you set for yourself; it's your key to the future a satisfying career in the electrical industry.
As you study the NEC and other references, highlight important points with a marker. This makes it easier to find important passages when you're doing the final review - and when you're taking the exam.
Put paper tabs on the corners of each major section in all the references you will take into the exam room. On the portion of the tab that extends beyond the edge of the book, write the name of the section or the subject. That makes locating each section easier and quicker - an important consideration on an open book test. Speed in locating answers is important. In the sample exams at the end of this book, which are based on actual state and county examinations, you will have from two to four minutes to answer each question, so you don't have time to daydream or mess around. If you want to pass the exam, you must take it seriously.
Your study plan should allow enough time to review each reference at least three times. Read carefully the first time. The next review should take only about 10% of the time that the first reading took. Make a final review of all references and notes on the day before the exam. This is the key to success in passing the exam: Review, review, review! The more you review, the better your grasp of the information and the faster you will be able to find the answers.
Questions on state and local examinations are usually compiled by members of the electrician's examination board. Board members usually include several electrical contractors, a registered electrical engineer, electrical inspectors, and perhaps a trade school instructor. Most electrician's exams will include questions on the NEC, general knowledge of electrical practice, theoretical questions, and local ordinance rules. All of these fields are covered in this preparation guide. Questions about the NEC, including rules and design calculations, comprise from 70% to 80% of the examination.
State examinations are usually given twice a year, or perhaps every three months. County and local exams may be taken almost any time with prior notice to the local inspectors. Most have several basic exams that are used in rotation. But the same examination will never be administered twice in a row.
The people compiling the exams maintain a bank of several hundred questions covering each test subject. Questions are selected at random, and chances are that some of the questions on any exam have already been used on an earlier examination. Many of the questions appearing on actual electrician's exams will closely resemble questions appearing in this book.
The format of the actual examination, the time allowed, and the reference material which the applicant may be allowed to take into the examination room vary with each locality. Typically, an applicant is allowed six to eight hours to complete the examination. Applicants are usually required to report to the examination room at 8 a.m. where the proctors take about 15 minutes to explain the rules of taking the exam. The applicants then work on the "morning" exam until noon. After an hour break for lunch, the "afternoon" exam begins at 1 p.m. and applicants are given until about 4 p.m. to complete this portion.
The Answer Sheet
Most answer sheets used today are designed for computer grading. Each question on the exam is numbered. Usually there will be four or five possible responses for each question. You will be required to mark the best answer on the answer sheet. The following is a sample of a multiple choice question:
1) Richmond is the capitol city of what state?
(A) Florida (C) Virginia
(B) Maryland (D) California
You should mark answer C for question 1 on the answer sheet.
Answer sheets will vary slightly for each examining agency so be sure to follow any instructions on that sheet. Putting the right answers on the wrong section will almost certainly cause you to fail.
The Night Before
Give your mind a rest! If you have not prepared correctly for the exam by this time, then you can't cram it all into your brain in one night. So take it easy. If the place of the examination is more than an hour's drive from your home, you might want to stay at a motel in the city where the examination is being held. Getting up at, say, 4 a.m. and driving a couple of hours in heavy traffic will not help you to pass the exam. On the other hand, a drive to the location the afternoon before the exam, a good dinner and a relaxing evening watching TV will increase your possibilities of passing. Just don't stay up too late.
Be sure to have all of your reference material with you and get a good night's sleep before the day of the exam. If you have prepared yourself correctly, you should pass with flying colors.
On the day of your examination, listen carefully to any oral instructions given and read the printed directions. Failing to follow instructions will probably disqualify you.
You will seldom find any trick questions, but many will require careful reading. Certain words (like shall, should, always and never) can make a big difference in your answer.
Sometimes several of the answers may seem possible, but only one will be correct. If you are not sure of the answer, use the process of elimination.
There are several ways to take an exam, but the following is the method I used to pass the Virginia State Electrical Contractor's Exam a few years ago. This method is merely a suggestion: if another way suits you best, by all means use it.
When the exam booklets were passed out and the applicants were given permission to open them, I spent the first few minutes going over the exam booklet, noting the number of questions. This allowed me to pace myself. I noted there were 100 questions on the morning exam - which gave me less than three minutes to spend on each one.
I then started with question No.1. When I found one that I wasn't sure of, I merely skipped over this until I came to one that I definitely knew the answer. This way I had gone through the entire test booklet once and had answered about 50% of the questions in a little over one hour. I was quite sure that I had answered all of these questions correctly. However, 70% is usually the minimum passing grade and at this point, I had only 50% of the questions answered. But I still had about three hours to spend on the tougher questions.
I then started back at the beginning of the exam and went down the list of questions until I found one that was unanswered. This process continued until I had answered all questions to the best of my ability. I spent the remaining time reviewing my previous answers, making changes as necessary.
After lunch, the "afternoon" portion of the exam was handed out, and I used the same procedure as before. I found out a few days later that I had scored 94% on this examination.
If you're getting ready to take the electrician's exam and drowning in
pages of tables, rules and exceptions, here's the book you need.
You'll find almost a thousand multiple-choice questions to study, based on actual tests administered over the last few years in states and counties across the U.S. The questions are written just as they are on the exams, except the answer and an explanation is provided below each question. You can test your knowledge as you go through the book.
Each chapter of the book begins with a basic explanation of the topic, followed by dozens of questions on that particular area of electrical work. There are diagrams to aid you in understanding the subject, and direct references to the latest National Electrical Code® sections or tables that apply to the questions. The chapters cover practically all the subjects likely to be tested on the exam, including:
Read each question and try to pick the correct answer. Then look to see if you were right. If not, review the NEC® section cited and make sure you understand why the given answer is correct.
Once you've been through the book and can answer all the questions, it's time to take the practice test included in the back. Take the test as though it were the real one. Give yourself the allotted time. Then grade yourself. The answer page is just before the index. Any questions you missed - go back to the chapter on that subject and review it again.
New: (CD not available with eBook) A CD-ROM with all the questions in the book, in an interactive format with the answers and any pertinent code sections popping up with a mouse click. Let your computer be your teacher and make studying for the exam fun. You can even take the practice test on your computer, and let it grade you. This new way to study is far easier than forcing yourself to stare at a book for hours on end.
Haven't applied for the exam yet? There's a listing of State Contractor's Examination Offices and who to contact for an application form. You'll also learn how to prepare for the exam and what to expect on examination day. This is a tool that every journeyman and master electrician candidate will find well worth their investment.
John Traister held a master electrician's license in Virginia and practiced the trade for many years. Becoming an expert in NEC® requirements for all types of electrical installations, he turned to publishing his knowledge in scores of electrical
and other technical manuals, trade journals and technical magazines.
Dale Brickner is a licensed master electrician in Florida. He's maintained and installed the full range of electrical systems, up to giant commercial and industrial projects, including fiber optic networks, highway lighting, signalization and toll collection projects. An electrical inspector, consultant, and author of several technical manuals, he is uniquely qualified to keep the questions in this manual correct and in compliance with the latest NEC®.