California Contractors License Practice Test Taking Tips
The State Contractor's Exam Is Almost Exclusively Multiple-choice. Some Of The Older Questions Are True/false, But None Are Fill-in Or Essay Questions.
- ANSWER EVERY QUESTION - always answer every question. Any unanswered question will be scored as a miss. Almost every multiple-choice question will have four possible answers. So the minimum probable score you can get, unless you are deliberately trying to flunk the exam, is 25% (i.e., one out of four).
- ELIMINATE WRONG ANSWERS - much of the time, two of the four answers will be clearly wrong, and you can eliminate them relatively easily, this leaves two answers to choose from that are relatively close. If you can eliminate the choices to two, which means you are now working on a score probability of at least 50%, which is not all that far from the minimum passing score. If you rely on what you've learned from the course plus your own experience plus a little bit of luck, you are over the hump
- GO WITH YOUR FIRST HUNCH - if, however, none of the answers make any sense at all, and you are unable to narrow the answers down to two, then your strategy is a bit different. First, if you have even the slightest hunch or intuition when you first read the question, go for the answer you pick first AND DON'T CHANGE YOUR MIND (unless another question absolutely establishes the correct answer). In a high proportion of cases, changing your mind will result in an incorrect answer.
- SELECT MOST ACCURATE ANSWERS - Ok it is time to guess, but guess wisely. It is said that, all things being equal, the longest answer may be correct more often than shorter answers. (That is because a correct answer often has to be qualified or explained to make it the correct one.) Also, the most conservative or prudent or safety conscious answer may be more often correct.
- SELECT MOST SEVERE PENALTIES - A State exam is not as likely to ask you questions about what you do not have to do or what you can get away with. Likewise, if it asks what sort of penalty is likely to be levied in the case of an infraction of laws, rules, or regulations, the answer is not usually the mildest of the penalties.
- ELIMINATE ASSUMPTIONS - it has been said that Answers 'B' and 'C' occur more often than 'A' and 'D.' (That's because test writers have an unconscious tendency to bury the correct answer in the middle of the choices.) However, that was truer of tests in the pre-computer age. The Board's tests are administered via a sophisticated computer program that would eliminate a simple bias like the position of answers.
- CAREFULLY READ EACH QUESTION - don't be too quick to answer a question that you are very confident about. A change of only a word or two can completely change a question around. Read each question deliberately. Each question is asking about one single fact. Try not to 'read into' a question with exceptions and qualifications, especially on the trade exam.
- SELECT BEST CHOICE OFFERED - you are being asked to choose the BEST of the answers offered. That does not mean that the correct answer is absolutely the best answer in every single case: It only means that it is the best of the choices offered. For example, a question might ask: 'Which of the following is the most expensive type of material?' You'll have four answers to choose from. You may know that another type of material is, in fact, more expensive than any of the four offered, but your job is to pick the best of the choice that is offered to the question.
- CALCULATE MATH & ESTIMATING QUESTIONS LAST - it is also a good idea to save all the estimating (if applicable) or math questions for the end of the exam. Similar calculations should be done together so you'll have an easier time of it.
- ANSWER DIFFICULT QUESTIONS LAST - every question counts for one point, whether it is a difficult or easy question. So don't spend too much time on a difficult one. You can skip any number of questions and come back to them later after you've answered the rest of the exam. Sometimes information in a different question can trigger a recollection of the correct answer to the question you are working on. Also, having an unanswered question in 'the back of your mind' as you work on the rest of the questions means that sometimes you are unconsciously dredging coming up another correct answer.
- YOU MAY CHALLENGE QUESTIONS - you are allowed to challenge, in writing, any question that you believe is incorrect, unfair, unclear, or otherwise unanswerable. (Ask the proctor for a challenge form at the exam site.) The State will not reveal your score if you pass. They will if you fail, and they will give you a percentage breakdown of your score according to the type of question (e.g., materials, trade practices, health, and safety, etc.). The percentage can be difficult to interpret, however if there were only a few questions in that area. For example, a 50% on health/safety questions can mean that you missed 1 of 2 questions!
- ANSWER CHALLENGED QUESTIONS - if you challenge a question, GO AHEAD AND ANSWER IT ANYWAY. The State will read your challenge carefully. If they agree with you, they will exclude the question from your exam score. If they do not agree, they will hold you responsible for the question. So give your best guess at an answer even if you believe the question is unanswerable. Whether or not the State agrees with you, you will not be penalized for challenging a question!
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