500 Mate Inland and Great Lakes

As I cannot attend a prep class I’m compelled to self-study for this endorsement. The NMC is being typically evasive to my queries and their publications under the examinations section is extensive to the point of becoming impossible to navigate.

This is a request for any guidance as to which books and study guides I need to prepare for this exam. I have Upgrade U from the Apple Store and will take a 5day class on chart plotting. What else do I need to consider?

Thank You

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Thank’s for the question and joining @Keylime I hope some of the Great Lakes 500 mate guys/gals can help answer your question.

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That is a very easy exam. Upgrade U is excellent. You might want to get a 1980’s version of Bowditch Volume II on eBay, and get familiar with it, especially the glossary. The USCG will provide Bowdich for you to use in the exam room. Also, learn how to look things up in the CFRs.


Upgrade U is more than enough.
A copy of the excerpts from tide and tidal currents tables is available cheap from Amazon… get all three training charts. I also found this cheap reference extremely handy: Formulae for the Mariner by R. Plant.
It has just about every navigation, stability cargo formula imaginable with explanations…

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Thank you for the feedback tugsailor. You’re the first person I’ve encountered to consider the exam as very easy. A colleague who just passed the 500 told me that once you’ve mastered rules of the road and chart plotting the rest is pretty easy. I’ll add that book to my list of purchases.

The inland exams are all fairly easy. I took unlimited master inland a while back and finished on Tuesday morning before lunch (including a retake of rules).

Fishyluke, thank you also. I will pursue those sources also.


All deck officers should have a copy of this book and all ships should have one in the bridge library.

When I took Master Inland awhile ago the only thing I studied was rules of the road. I just winged the rest of it and successfully finished the exam in one day.

Rules of the Road are a “difficult” topic in the sense that you really need to know them, and practice a lot of questions to be ready for the poorly worded, illogical, “trick” questions because you must get a 90 on that section. But learning the rules is just time consuming, not really difficult.

The chart plotting is similarly “difficult” in that it requires a 90 on the exam. Chart plotting is not really that difficult, but you do need to know how to do it. Importantly, you must be very careful on the exam and do the plotting very accurately (much more accurately than most people do it in practice). As USCG exam chart plots go, the Inland chart plot is very easy.

The rest of the exam is super easy.

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