1600 ton NC prep course

Gentlemen a quick background I spent 4 years on deck on 280,300,312 OSVs as an OS, AB and now I’m currently an AB Unlimited. I switched to the tug division to move up being able to test for my 1600ton mate near coastal. I paid for a 15 day prep course and have been reviewing material for the last 3 years on and off mostly rules of the road, deck gen. I am 6 days in and we are studying tides and wtf did I get myself into. I go to class 8-5 everyday and at the end of the day my brain is completely exhausted. I’m contemplating switching to test for an inland license being that I’m fine with staying in the tug division but then again if I have to transport a tug to a different port or to shipyard I’ll need that NC. All in all any advice, bearer of bad news or encouragement as a fellow mariner I’m reaching out.

When you pass your exams, and it may take you a few tries, it doesnt say on your license how many retakes you had. Most of us have struggled and thought of saying the hell with it, giving up. Don’t be one of those guys. We all know folks dumber than a box of rocks and they managed to pass…persistence and gumption are key.

Don’t even consider getting a inland license and pigeonholing yourself. If i would have been more organized and financially stable at the time i upgraded, i would have done oceans at the same time. Would have helped me with the ‘terrestrial’ module.

Lastly, since you are doing a prep course, i’d be cornering the instructor and asking for help on whatever subjects you are struggling with. They have an incentive helping you with extra instruction. They want the high pass rate, right?


Don’t give up. Keep on pushing.

1 Like

I got my a** kicked today in class. So many steps on top of the 20 other formulas and steps in the previous 5 chapters to remember. My brain is trying to find an easy way around, not out I’m no quitter. I know I’ll shoot myself in the foot if I chicken out and test for inland. you couldn’t have said it better Ctony

Take a good looks at the sample exams and study what you need to know from them formulas wise. I’m in a similar boat about to test for my third time. It’s a lot to learn especially if you haven’t been taught before. Don’t wait to long after that prep to test because if you aren’t at home doing problems you’re gonna forget it.

I was planning to test two weeks after the prep exam but I don’t know I learn fast but it’s not the learning that’s a problem it’s the amount of information you have to cram and retain

Did you take a prep and what modules were toughest for you bro

Most, if not all would like to pass every module the first time so they can get on with their lives. I know i did. It was a burden studying off watch and at home juggling domestic duties.

My method was always don’t go test until i felt fairly confident that i can pass enough of the modules that i don’t have to restart the whole cycle.

When you manage to pass enough modules and you can come back later and retake the ones you failed, you benefit from potentially only studying for a couple of modules and you can forget the ones you passed already. You also have seen the test. You have a better picture of what to expect.

Just remember the clock starts ticking when you get your approval to test letter. Don’t put yourself in a position where you run out of time and have to reapply. A year goes by fast.


I always felt it best to schedule my exams as soon after the prep course as possible. I took celestial and terrestrial prep courses back to back. 8 hours a day 6 days a week for 6 weeks with 4 to 6 hours study time extra everyday. It feels overwhelming, i agree talk to the insteuxtor, but persevere. It is worth it. And as has been said, you know what they call the guy who graduates last in his class at Med School… Doctor.

Good luck.


I tried taking the 1600 master oceans on my own and didn’t do well. Can’t really concentrate to study when there are so many things to do at home. I took the license prep course at MPT and scheduled my testing the first monday after class. I didn’t go home just holed up in a Motel in Miami beach and studied until test time. This is the only way I knew I could pass. I passed all the modules and when I got home is when the relaxation and party started. Funny thing is after passing the test in the elevator ride down from the REC a woman from the coast guard said " I can tell you passed by the look on your face". Feels good. Also calculate the difference in pay you will make with your raise in grade. This will help you decide what you can throw at this to make you keep at it until you pass.

1 Like

I planned to test two weeks after my two week prep course I’ll see how I feel but at this rate I’ll need more time and maybe a prescription of adderall jk lol

Stick with it man. I’m guessing that at some point in this (studying/learning) process, it won’t look as tough as it does today. I studied for and tested for both master and mate 500/1600 NC at the same time (11 modules :roll_eyes:) and I recall thinking, at the beginning of the prep process, there was no way I could hold all that in my head. I second the advice to test as soon as possible after prep. It’s a lot of information, and formulae, and if you are already in the habit of grinding through it (including practice exams), the actual testing is just another day (or three).


DONT GIVE UP! its the hardest thing i have ever done as well. i dont know how people self study without any prep class. i could have never dont it without the 3 week prep class at MPT. even after the class i was studying 6 days a week with a partner from class, find one for yourself in your class, for about 6 weeks until we were both passing the practice tests consistently. then when you feel you are ready got to take all the tests, you will pass a few, and fail a few, but that will allow you to focus on what you need to , its SUCH a huge amount of formulas and info you cant keep it up to snuff enough to pass forever so get some of them out of the way. look at the 500 ton test section in other part of this forum, you will see my post from 8-10 years ago… best of luck, and as my kiwi buddy said, " lots of dumber people than you have passed it… best of luck, and DONT GIVE UP…


Persistence is the secret, keep trying. After the prep course set aside time each day to practice answering the sample questions. Set a goal like answering 200 questions a day or even 50. Tell everyone to leave you alone, you’re studying! But be disciplined. Try to find a mentor who can help. I worked with many an oiler who progressed up the engineering ladder. Some eventually became unlimited chief engineers.The effort required for deck or engineering license is the same, The discipline and persistence required is up to you. If it was easy everyone would do it. Don’t give up on yourself or you’ll regret it.


Repetition Repetition Repetition!

1 Like

Day 12 of prep course I’m wiser than I was 12 days ago I feel like I can get ahold of the information but tides and currents really get on my nerves. Both of my 1600ton mate friend’s suggested I just memorize all 90 of them any feedback on this?

1 Like

That a lot to remember for prolly one question on the test .

Notwithstanding that the questions you would be memorizing might be old and not used on current exams, it seems easier to just learn how to do the calculations than memorizing 90 different questions.

1 Like

The question bank isn’t publicly available anymore so you can’t actually just memorize all the questions. Many of the old questions might still be in use but you never know.

I found studying for the 3rd mate test to be very difficult but no one element of the material is all that hard, it’s just that there’s so much of it. Tides and currents are like many other subjects, difficult at first but once understood it seems simple.

Have you tried a different reference book? I found that switching to Dutton’s when I couldn’t understand Bowditch to be helpful.

1 Like