10. Not enough books – Believe it or not, some people actually walk into this test and only take a few of the books they are allowed to bring in, or even worse, some don’t bring in a single book. This is an open book test, so why not take all the answers in with you?

9. No training – Some people just don’t even know about prep courses. They are told by the local authority that they need license and they just go take the test.

8.Wrong books – Often some people plan to take a contractor exam and then realize that the books might cost a bit more than they were planning. They start asking around to their friends to see if any of them have taken the exam and if so can they borrow some books.

The problem here is that books change. And while the majority of the information is the same from edition to edition, the testing facility will not allow you to bring in a different version of book than what they are calling for. This results in you not getting to bring in all the books you thought you were going to be able to bring in, and missing a few critical questions, maybe just enough to fail the exam.

7. Wrong training – If you’ve spent more than a few minutes looking for a contractor exam prep course, you‘ve probably found lots of companies and individuals offering training. How can you tell which is the right course for you? The best thing you can do is pick up the phone and call them. Ask to speak with an exam expert. Ask them about their training method and ask about your exam. See if they are knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.

6. Seminars – A lot of people think they learn better in a classroom setting. They remember being in school, and they may not be comfortable with computers. They think they can ask questions and have discussions to understand concepts better. But the reality is this: You are hearded into a hotel room with about 20-30 other contractors for 1-2 very long 8-10 hour long days. The instructor starts reading to you. He or she may or may not have ever seen the test or picked up a hammer. Often times they are just class facilitators who have a script to read.

Then during the long drawn out session, if you have to take a call or use the restroom you miss whatever was covered.

Plus, there’s always that one guy who has the wrong books, that other guy that can’t hear well and keeps asking the facilitator to repeat, and then that one person that wants to argue with the facilitator.

The thing is, when someone is giving you a question and answer in a prep course, it doesn’t matter if that’s how you do it in real life or not, it’s brought up because that’s the way it appears on the exam.

If the facilitator or prep course tells you 1+1=3, then 3 is what you need to write down on your test if you want to get it right.

5. Didn’t know how the test worked – Some people think since it’s an open book test, they can just go in with the books and maybe a little training and pass the test. The problem with that is, you only have about 2 minutes per question. If you have 21 books in your exam, and you don’t have a solid plan and strategy for how to take the test, it’s impossible to look them all up, not to mention how confusing and frustrating it can be trying to figure out which book to even use.

4. Ran out of time – This goes hand in hand with some of the other reasons. If you’re properly prepared for the exam, you should not run out of time. However many people get into the exam center and start looking up questions and just thinking too long about questions, and before they know it, they’ve run out of time.

3. No way to verify they were ready – Let’s say you get the 21 books and read them cover to cover, all 10,000+ pages. Are you ready for the exam? Who knows? There’s really only one sure fire way to know that you are ready to pass the exam, and that is based on practice exam scores with your books.

2. Memorized too much – Sometimes I’ll get a call from someone who’s planning to take their test. They’ve got a prep course and they’ve been studying all the questions and answers. I ask them, “what’s the joint compound drying time at 60 degrees and 60% humidity. They proudly answer “29 hours!”

I say, that’s great, and you’re right. Now, what if it’s 80 degrees and 50% humidity. There’s silence followed by “uhhmmmm, well, er 30 hours?” Then I ask what book they will find the answer in which is also met with an “uhhhmmm”.

It’s great to memorize some of the questions and answers, but remember, the testing company is going to try to trip you up. So if you’ve ONLY memorized answers, and you don’t know where to go find the answers, you’ll likely end up failing the test.

1. Knows too much. If you’ve been in the construction industry so long that you know everything there is to know about construction, that’s great. But if you try to rely on that knowledge and experience ONLY, to get through this exam, you’ll probably not do so well. The guys who have the hardest time are those who try to muscle their way through the exam.

Remember, this is a BOOK test, not a skills or experience test.