Able Seaman Class and Test Concerns

Hello! First post here. I have spent some time searching the forum for my answers but can’t seem to find anything specific, so if there is already a thread that pertains to this, please point me in the right direction.

I have been out of the maritime industry since April of 2019, I worked in offshore oil and gas for about 3 years. I am currently an OS with enough sea time to get my AB limited. I plan on enrolling in an AB class within a month or so. About a week ago I ordered an AB study guide from a third party company and just started studying yesterday. I can either enroll in a class that will be held a week from now or I can enroll in the next class in a month. My concerns are that if I enroll in the class two weeks from now that I wont be prepared enough and potentially fail the class. I know most of these training centers water down these classes to an almost grade school level so that everyone understands and has a fighting chance, but for some reason my mind keeps telling me that this is going to be the hardest class I’ve ever taken and some how I am going to fail in some kind of cosmic fashion.

Am I pumping this class up too much? Is it something that I need to spend a month preparing for before the instructor even gives their first instruction? I have met some AB’s aboard a few different vessels and can say that I’m not entirely sure how they ended up there. So should I chill out and take the class in two weeks and trust the process or should I be more prepared?

Thank you for your input, I’m working on getting back into the industry and I want to have the least amount of hiccups as possible.

Nah, you tweakin’. The test is easy if you study. If you’re worried about anything, read up on the Rules of the Road. Know those by heart, and after that, study at night what you learned that day in class. Night before the test, go over your notes, tie your knots one last time, and write the Rules of the Road from memory. That’s it. It’s not the MCAT.

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I took a class at L.E. Fletcher. I don’t think they are around any more. In any case. School don’t like to fail students. I remember in my class we had a quiz every other day or every day of like 20 questions. From a small book to study. I remember it was very basic. Then when we had to tie 5 knots we all tied them as a class on out chairs. In fact I had a app on my phone that showed me how to tie all the knots via video.

Did not need it because we went over each knot before we tied it. In fact i think i got help i don’t think it was something that had to be memorized. I got all my sea time from the navy left the navy went to work off shore as a galley hand / B.R hand cleaning rooms doing dishes then one day i just signed up for the course and passed. Never worked on a boat outside the navy and passed. So yeah a Dish washer passed.

https://www.mptusa.com/class-details/able-seafarer-deck-course-252/17835

Call the school up the girls at the desk are really nice and if you pay 50% of the cost of the class they mail you the books

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You got this and like the guy above just said, go heavy on Rules and maybe start messing around with a few knots. PM me when you get it and i’ll get you hired supply boat if you want.

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I wouldn’t sweat it. You’ll pass. Go to west marine or the like and get a rules of the road study placard, study up on that and that should give you a leg up.

Davis Instruments Navigation Rules Quick Reference Card https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B0014438TQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_A22VQ9K1DK18Q3WBFXBP?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

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I would not study rules like those others said. The study guide have the rules you need to study. If you start to study shit now like you are doing you are going to study shit that for the most part won’t be on their exam. Let them give you the school books and study only the material they give you. You are only going be tested over like 100 rules. Maybe even less.

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Everyone is giving great advice. All i can add is try your best not to sweat it. In all reality you most likely can self study without the course and pass. Taking the course is basically making yourself a shoe-in.

I’d be more concerned over knowing my knots and being proficient at splicing more so than everything else…but then again, when i did my AB over 20 years ago it was after i did my 100 ton license so i wasn’t that concerned with rules of the road. There are no modules requiring 90% passing for the AB, you’ll be fine.

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Will do, thanks man!

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Thanks for the input everyone, my assumptions seem to be confirmed. Booking the class now.

You’re going to do great! These businesses are set up to pass mariners. Not a good model to be failing people left and right, bad for repeat customers. They will teach you everything you need to know. Focus, be prepared and learn the information to make you a better mariner, not just to get a credential. Have fun!

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I’ve worked with ABs that were functionally illiterate and they passed.

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The test is not very very easy, you will need to study. There are still a lot of obscure topics that nobody does anymore, like every other USCG exam.

Back in my day, you got the seatime, studied on your own. At the Battery you took the written exam, if you passed you had to tie all the knots in front of a USCG Senior chief. Then there was a written knot exam which showed pictures that you had to name from memory, no multiple choice.

When you were done with that you went in the back and lowered a 1/5 scale model lifeboat. The rule was if you broke anything you automatically fail. Only then did you get your Z-card.

Now you just have to sit through a class.

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Kinda the way I remember it in 1975.

fuck 1975

If you show up for class, pay the fee, have even the slightest understanding of the material, and take the exam, the school will make sure you pass.

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Silvrbk spot on. No need to be sour Menizzi, just the way it was perhaps before you were born. The test wasn’t that hard even then. The OP should have no worries. Tugsailor said it well, show up, get a grasp, some studying, no problem. Good luck sir. And don’t be disrespectful with the examiners. They want you to be successful as well.

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The CG used to hand out a free gray book. Something like Manual for lifeboatman, Able Seaman and QMED. This book, rules of the road and the basic seamanship I learned on the job was all I needed to study for my AB 12 month back early '70s.

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Had the “Gray book” Slept with it as this was my first big test to get ahead from OS tankerman to an AB Tankerman. Slept with many other books later on, but that exam gave me confidence to carry on. That bookstore in Fort Lauderdale was a career builder for the self motivated. What some younger crew didn’t know when I was Captain/ Master, I walked more than a few miles in their shoes. I was very picky choosing crew. With a particular focus on engineers. Don’t recall being broke down in bad weather, one engine at a few times, but never both. One prior poster said he was miserable at sea, I loved it and my fellow crewmates. Glad I am retired, but never regretted the quality people I met along the way. Keep studying sir, hawespiping is much tougher now, but can be done.

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You don’t need to over think passing the AB exam. A one week school will get you through it.

If you want to learn how to be a good AB, that takes more work. Learn how to tie and untie about a dozen of the most useful knots. Learning how to choose which knot to use for which task is a bit more difficult. These days, you need to know how to splice 8-braid and 12-braid, both sue spliced and short splices. Learn how to make up lines on bitts properly. Learn how to use stoppers. Learn how to coil and throw a heaving line. Learn how to throw lines into bitts and how to flip them off. Learn the names of tie up lines: now, stern, spring, Brest lines etc. learn the basics of being a lookout. Of course you should become proficient at cleaning and painting. That is most of what an AB does.

If you really want to be a good AB that always has a job, learn how to cook, provision, and keep a clean galley.

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Only then will the captain/mate give you time on the bridge. But sooner rather than later if you adhere to tugsailors advice. And…Take good care of your boat, know when to duck. Goes a long way sir.

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