COAST GUARD OCCUPATIONAL CREDENTIALING "ABLE SEAMAN" "DECK OFFICER" REVIEW MATERIALS
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Check Back frequently
If you are preparing for an upgrade from "ordinary seaman" to "able seaman" or from "Able Seaman" to any of the various mates, limited masters, or motorboat operator "licenses" you will probably take a "license prep course". There are many excellent sources for such courses public, private, and union. Nearly all such courses designed for working American commercial mariners attempting to advance through the ranks of the American Merchant Marine are designed to be between one and two weeks in length. There is no way anyone can expect to pass these lengthy and comprehensive professional competency exams if such a course is the only preparation that you have.
Typically these courses are designed around the specific examination that the course is titled after and the instructional program assumes that the student has fulfilled the minimal service and experience requirements for the examination and has been preparings by studying appropriate materials for quite some time before signing up for the course. The focus of such course is on passing the exam. "How to instruction" is minimal and focused on the finer points of the portions of the exam requiring a minimum 90% ratio of correct answers. Such courses also focus on general strategies for multiple choice test taking and lots of practice exam exercises.
Most licenses and AB documents are valid for multiple vessel types and a range of sizes and services so candidates approaching the upgrade exams after completing minimum service requirements may see many items of the test that they have never seen or operated, on the one or two vessels of the pertinent class they served on. While the "license prep" courses are very good at tracking the Coast Guard's typical exam questions no two tests are alike. There is a large pool of questions for each subject area of the exam and the Coast Guard pulls from this pool at random for each individual test. All applicants take the same number of questions in the same categories of questions, subject to the same minimal test score requirements but in fact no two applicants take the same test. The best assurance of a passing score is a broad and deep knowledge of the required subjects. Such a broad and deep familiarity with a subject comes from a combination of experience and formal study.
Most upgrade exam applicants usually obtain any number of commercially available study guides and classic books such as Chapman's, Bowditch, Dutton, The AB and Deck Officer's "Guides", etc. And, these are good and necessary. The Coast Guard in fact publishes a "reading list" and most of the exam questions are drawn from these books. So a familiarity with these books is helpful when preparing for the exam. However, Professional vocational educators know that humans tend to retain only about 10% of what they read over protracted time, 50% of what we see and hear, and about 90% of what we say and do ourselves. What we try to do in this section is to provide in one convenient location links to such free video sources of instruction in the various examination subjects as we are able to locate so that the student preparing for attendance at a "license prep" course will be able to add at no additional expense some of that "see and hear" type material that tends to increase retention to about 50%. Moreover, we suggest to those who make use of this free resource that you view each video you select several times and take notes after the first run through. By putting things in your own words and writing them out you introduce the "Say and do " function in learning and rise that 50% comprehension/retention rate to closer to 90%.
Make early contact with the Coast Guard regional exam center or school for a more precise feel of which subjects are pertinent to your targeted exam. For example if you are applying for an inland towing vessel mate or pilot license you will be tested on navigation, but not on celestial navigation. Inland route exams will generally not have as much "ships business and law" as blue water officer exams. The section that we are building up will have videos covering the broadest possible range of subjects. You need not pay a great deal of time looking at videos on subjects that you won't be tested on. For the time being it is up to the visitor to this section to research through the targeted school or Coast Guard regional exam center ,which subjects or which levels within the subjects are applicable for your individual needs.
The Deck Department Credential Exam Preparation Section is under construction and like the license system and exams themselves even after "completion" will have to be periodically revised. So check back frequently. However despite still being "under construction" we now feel that the collection of videos is sufficient to be a significant help to those preparing for the exams, and so we now link you to the section.
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