General Information Page

How to Prepare for a
Trade License Exam

I. Your First Steps

Plan and study for at least three weeks in advance of your exam.  Your chances of passing will be far higher.  Begin your preparation with the most current copy of the Candidate Information Bulletin and use the content outline for your specific examination as the basis of your study.

Our experience has shown that exam candidates who have taken advantage of high quality third party study materials, greatly increase the chances of passing their exam on the first try.  Read the study materials that cover all the topics in the Content Outline.  Use the study materials to familiarize yourself with the recommended reference(s); speed and efficiency finding the information in a reference will increase your chance of finding the right answer if you are unfamiliar with the subject of a question.

Take study notes.  Putting information in writing will increase your chances of remembering it.  Discuss any new terms or concepts with your business associates as often as you can.  This will test your understanding and reinforce your learning.  Your studies will be most effective if you study frequently. Your potential for learning tends to decline if you study for any longer than an hour.

Very Important!  Allow Three (3) weeks or more study time before your exam date.

A. Obtain the Candidate Information Bulletin

Most Candidate Information Bulletins can be found at one of the following links:

Prometric     PSI Exams    Pro V

International Code Council    Pearson VUE

B. Candidate Information Bulletins will give you the following information (not in all cases):

  • Exam classifications
  • Exam content outlines
  • Reference books allowed in the exam (and restrictions)
  • Reference books to study that are not allowed in the exam
  • Exam dates
  • Items to bring to the exam
  • Sample questions
  • Exam center locations
  • Type of work allowed by each license classification
  • Cost of the exam (fees)
  • Exam application (may be a separate PDF file from the licensing agency)
  • How to schedule your exam
  • How many questions are on each exam
  • Passing score for each exam
  • Where to apply for the exam (some testing agencies allow Internet registration)

II. The Reference Books (code books) or Statutes

Your Candidate Information Bulletin contains a complete list of references needed to study for your exam. The investment in these books or materials, is an invaluable resource both for exam preparation and in your future contracting business.

Reference books are generally available from Technical Bookstores such as: Community College Bookstores, Retail Bookstores, Construction Specialty Bookstores, or Online retailers (,  Most of these bookstores will have some but generally not all of the titles needed for your exam. As free copies of references become available, we try to post links on the web site.

III. Supplemental Studies

Our experience has shown that exam candidates, who have taken advantage of high quality third party study materials, greatly increase chances of passing exam on the first try.  Here at, we have developed a unique alternative to spending days in a classroom while far away from home which is not conducive to learning and not to mention, expensive. We believe that the best, atmosphere for learning is the place of your choosing, whether it be your office, a coffee shop, or the privacy of your own home.  Choosing our High Quality study materials will allow you these alternative options for study.

IV. Restrictions on Books - How Does This Effect How I Study?

Each exam administrator (PSI, Prometric, ProV, ICC, etc.) has their own rules which effect the use of reference books in an exam.  If your exam is OPEN BOOK, and you failed to read the exam bulletin text regarding whether or not code books are supplied at the exam location, then you may end up paying your registration fee again and having to reschedule your exam..

If the exam is OPEN BOOK, and the administrator supplies code books at the exam location, then you generally are told in the bulletin to NOT bring your own copies of reference books.  If the administrator does not supply code books, then the books you bring will be searched for notes and other items listed in the exam bulletin.  If they are found, your books will be confiscated.

Generally speaking, the study method you would use for an OPEN BOOK exam would be to focus on learning how to FIND the answers to questions vs. memorizing answers. This is the primary method we use in preparing our study materials.  In the case of electrical exams, you will want to learn the methods of how to perform wire sizing calculations, for example, by learning which table to use and the steps to follow to calculate the right answer.

Most electrical exams are OPEN BOOK because most people need to access the charts and tables in the back of the NEC.  This does not mean you can assume that your own personal copies of the NEC can be brought into the exam.

If the exam is CLOSED BOOK, and you bring any books or notes with you, they will be confiscated.

V. States That Do Their Own Testing

Some states have chosen to maintain a monopoly on the licensing process (like Minnestoa, Wisconsin and Idaho), including scheduling exams at their own facilities.  In these cases, we have found that they will often times not list reference books on their web site. Often times the titles are non-standardized and hard to find.  In this case, you must call the licensing agency yourself to get exact information about the book list.  Information that would be useful in finding your own study copy would be:

  • ISBN number
  • Publisher Name
  • Author Name
  • Edition (2nd, 3rd, 4th) or Year of Printing

VI. How Do I Study for an Exam That Uses Statutes?

Many states use their own proprietary code that can only be found through legislative web pages and PDF files.  We have done much of that research for you by providing links to those files and code sections located on our license trade pages.

Unfortunately, if the link takes you to a web page, the text is generally not printable unless you cut and paste from your browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer) into a word processor program.  Your other option would be to find a link to an area on the licensing agency's web site where they sell copies of the printed code section(s) that apply to your license.

In the case of landing on a legislative web page, you may find page after page of code that does not apply to your license.  You will have to look at the list of subjects shown on our web page (or in the exam bulletin) and do a search in the code to find the sections that may have been used to write questions for your exam.  Most of the time, we have researched these and give you the specific (numbered) code section that apply to your license exam.

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