How to Prepare for the Washington Electrical Exam
By: Nate Bortz | Sep 18, 2023
If you want to become a certified electrician, master electrician, or electrical administrator in Washington, you must pass a state exam that covers the work you will be doing. If you’d like to pass the exam on your first try, effective study tools and techniques can help. But taking exam prep seriously can do more than help you pass.
In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 7,270 nonfatal work injuries among electricians that involved days away from work. Thankfully, electrician deaths were much lower at 70. Using the exam prep strategies found in this article can help you bolster your electrical knowledge and decrease your chances of personal injury – or death – on the jobsite.
Understanding the WA State Electrical Licensing Exams
To ensure all licensed electricians in Washington can adequately perform their job and stay safe while doing so, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) worked with PSI Services LLC to create the required exams.
According to PSI, the open book exam covers topics from the National Electrical Code (NEC), Washington laws and rules, and basic-level electrical computation and theory. Specific law, rule, and code questions are based on the Revised Code of Washington 19.28, the Washington Administrative Code 296-46B, and the 2020 NEC. To pass your exam, you need a score of at least 70%.
After L&I receives your electrician licensing application and determines your eligibility, it will assign you a unique ID number and send you a letter explaining how to schedule your exam. Exams are open book and taken on a computer. You are permitted to bring a calculator that is silent, nonprinting, and nonprogrammable.
The amount of time you get to take your exam depends on what you pay for. For most exams, you can purchase between one and seven hours. In 2023, fees start at $45 and go up by $10 for every additional hour, up to seven hours total. The Master Electrician exam, however, is one flat rate.
Exam Prep Strategies
After completing prerequisite requirements like classroom courses or a specific amount of on-the-job experience, it may seem like you don’t need to prepare for the licensing exam. But remember, knowing how to do something is very different than understanding why something has to be done a certain way.
The licensing exams make sure you know why electricians must follow certain codes and regulations. And while the exam is open book, you can only underline, highlight, or attach permanent index tabs to books before starting the exam.
With that in mind, consider these study tips and strategies before you take your exam:
- Read and review the books or study materials that cover the topics in the exam’s content outline.
- When studying, underline or highlight anything you need help remembering so the material is easier to find during the exam.
- While studying, hand write your own notes or explanations of exam concepts to help with recall.
- Only study for 45 to 50 minutes at a time to help stay concentrated.
- Try explaining exam topics to friends or family. If you can explain something correctly to someone, that’s a sign that you understand it yourself.
If you’d rather not flip through hundreds of pages of code or regulations to find what you need to learn for the exam, check out JADE Learning’s online Washington Electrician Exam Prep. The exam prep is an effective study tool that offers a choice between two resources: a comprehensive study guide and a simulated practice test.
The study guide includes fully illustrated and narrated modules that cover everything you’ll find on the exam, including general requirements, wiring and protection, grounding and bonding, and more! For an accurate representation of the Washington electrician exam, try the simulated practice test. It includes 600 code-specific questions that are modeled after PSI’s content outline.
The simulated practice test can also help you curb test anxiety. Try replicating the actual testing environment by taking our practice test in a quiet room with your pre-marked study material. Keep your phone in a different room (it’s not allowed in the exam room) but use a stopwatch to monitor how long it takes you to complete the practice test. This can help you determine what areas you need to review and the amount of time you’ll likely need for the exam.
Interested in our simplified study tool? Visit the exam prep page to learn more.
Exam-Day Preparation and Procedure
When it’s finally time to take your exam, remember these tips to make the experience as stress-free as possible:
- The day before the exam, prepare as much as possible. This can include gathering all your pre-marked study materials and calculator in one place so they’re easy to find or planning the outfit you’ll wear. Doing this extra prep the day before will minimize any potential stress when you’re getting ready to leave for the exam.
- Get as much sleep as possible the night before the exam! Studies show that healthy sleep habits can strengthen memory and improve academic performance.
- During the week leading up to the exam, review everything again — even the concepts you feel confident about. This would be a good time to try talking to someone about an exam topic to test your own understanding.
- If you are feeling anxious on test day, try practicing some self-care. This can include things like taking a minute to focus on your breathing, do some stretching, or replacing negative thoughts (I’m going to fail) with positive ones (I know I can pass this exam).
- On test day, eat breakfast and arrive early to help stay focused and reduce stress. PSI recommends arriving at least 30 minutes early for singing in and completing the exam tutorial.
When you arrive to take your exam, remember these rules:
- You cannot use your phone or any electronic device other than an approved calculator at any time during the exam
- Bulky or loose clothing like coats or hooded sweatshirts are not allowed
- You cannot bring in any personal items like notebooks, backpacks, wallets, or food and drinks
After completing the exam, you will know right away whether you passed or not. If you did not pass, you must wait 14 days before scheduling another attempt. If you fail three times, you must wait three months before retesting.
Passing the Washington electrician exam requires thorough and effective preparation. Whether you choose to study by reviewing the code books a little bit every day, or by using our online exam prep tools, taking the time to prepare will help you take the exam with confidence.
Emerson, S. (2022, September 29). 14 Tips for Test Taking Success. Retrieved from https://summer.harvard.edu/blog/14-tips-for-test-taking-success/
PSI Services LLC. (2023, May 8). Electrical Certification Candidate Information Bulletin. Retrieved from https://lni.wa.gov/licensing-permits/_docs/display_bulletin.pdf
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, February 11). Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities – Electricians, 2016-2020. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/iif/snapshots/osn-electricians-2016-20.htm
Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. (n.d.). Electrical Examination. Retrieved from https://lni.wa.gov/licensing-permits/electrical/electrical-licensing-exams-education/electrical-examination