Remarks after taking the 500 ton NC test

Just took the Mate 500 NC exam, and for whatever it’s worth here are some thoughts, to help those preparing to test:

ROTR - 50 ques
Reasonable exam, didn’t see too many of the most obscure questions.

Chart Pblms - 15 ques
Seemed the most advanced of all the tests. Incuded several gotchas, which I caught only on second or third careful reading of the question. Had to sharpen the pencil and plot very carefully.

Nav Pblms - 10 ques
This test seemed pretty straightforward, no real curveballs. Included an azimuth, time for required height of tide,
tidal current, current diagram, compass correction with leeway, set and drift, table 7.

Nav Gen’l - 70 ques
For many if not most of the questions, Bowditch Vol II’s glossary was my very good friend. Another straightforward exam.

Deck Gen’l - 70 ques
Seemed pretty easy. Surprised that there were no stability calculations here nor in Deck Safety.

Deck Safety - 70 ques
This was an exercise in librarian skills. The right stuff for this exam is to be thorough and fast while doggedly scanning through page after page after page. It takes a ton of patience to cope with frustration at the typical government “elegance” exemplified by the CFRs and US Code… Plan on spending a lot of time and energy getting through this exam.

As for preparation, I can’t recommend highly enough Crawford Nautical. They are not a cram school, and not a mercenary operation. They are wonderful folks, enthusiastic about nautical art and science, and they’ll infect you with their enthusiasm. Also, Capt Joe, Hawsepipe, Lapware, and Rulesmaster each serve a slightly different purpose, and is each well worth the money. The software facilitated doing a lot of sample tests, which helped me get all the dumb errors out of my system (screwups converting times and deg-min-sec to decimals, dyslexic errors converting GMT to zone description time, bonehead interpolation blunders, failure to RTFQ). Last but not least, I spent a lot of time hunched over the 3 practice charts, sharpening my drafting skills, because the tolerance between right and wrong sometimes seems not much more than a hair.
This worked for me, at least. Good luck to all -

Very thoughtful post.

Keep in mind that the exam you may get on a different day at the REC, or a different REC, can be very different.

My first Deck Safety exam had 20 stability questions, 15 of which were calculations.

For chart plots? Plot them backwards once you are done. You go from point A to B to C, etc. When you plot it backwards, if you don’t end up back at point A you know you did something wrong…

I recently took(and passed!) the 500tn master n.c., which i guess is different in some ways from the 500 ton mate test(taken by the first post here)- on my test i had only 3 stability quest. on deck safety. Also, i thought it was strange that I had ZERO tide or current quest. of any kind, either on nav general(50 quest) or coastal nav(10 quest) sections-was kind of surprised at that- on coastal nav had 1 azimuth, 1 amplitude, 1 calc time of sunset, 1 time tick, 1 voyage planning(eta), 1 fuel cons., 1 prop. slip prob, and can’t remember the other 3… Point being, to anyone studying to take the exam, study everything because it sounds to me like the tests can be EXTREMELY different and one person’s experience is very different from another…good luck …

Just finished up with the 500/1600 mate inland tests and wanted to offer some tips and advice for people getting ready to test. I went the hawsepipe route, worked as a deckhand, got the AB and lifeboatman, then weighed my options and figured it was best to skip apprentice mate and go right for the 500 mate. It was very, very difficult and i now understand why they offer 4 year schools for our line of work and fully respect the academy guys. First off, start studying! anything you can get your hands on helps, for ROTW I read the Navigation Rules cover to cover at least 10 times, when taking the practice exams i always made sure to look up my wrong answers in the book to fully understand the meaning of each rule, make yourself index cards with all the different lights they show (i know they actually sell them in the nautical bookstores but c’mon, 20-30 dollars for index cards?!) Great online software is Lapware, you pay a monthly fee for unlimited access and it really narrows down the questions for the type of exam your taking i.e 100 ton master vs. 1600 ton master oceans, USCGQ is great and it’s FREE. Chart Nav is a little tricky to learn on your own but with a few lessons from someone that knows their way around a chart should be enough to get you started, i went to CMTI for 5 days for chart nav and stability, after that i did every practice test i could get my hands on, YouTube has some good videos of an instructor teaching you some chart nav basics. Steady hands and sharp pencils pass tests! Buy the 1983 reprints of the tide and current tables because you will get one of each on your chart nav, at least i did. It doesnt hurt to buy the reprints of Light Lists and Coast Pilots so you can look up the exact location of buoys and lights and other navagational info. Deck General is a beast but at least you dont have to get a 90%! I read Chapman piloting which was brutal but contained TONS of information and then basically spent 2 whole weeks doing the practice tests on lapware until i was getting nothing below a 90%. Your allowed to use the CFR’s and all the material your local REC makes available to you, thats why it’s kinda worth going to a school for a week or two, they have all the CFR’s and can show you how to navigate them along with Bowditch and all the others, buying those books would cost a pretty penny. Nav Gen is exactly as described in the first post, take your time and the bulk of the answers are found in the Coast Pilot and Bowditch (which also has a pretty good glossary of terms hint hint). Take your notes and study material with you to the REC when you test just leave it outside the exam room! You can take breaks in between modules and sit out in the hall and go over some stuff for your next exam. Study hard and dont get down on yourself and give up, i promise one day you’ll wake up and all of it will start to make sense!! Its a long hard road traveled but its better than paying off student loans for the next 15 years!

…ditto to above. the mate ocean test kicked my butt. based on that experience i put off the master test as long as i could. when i finally ran out of excuses i went ahead. the master(my) master test was a completely different experience. Congrats on the pass. one of the best feelings in the world innit?

CG is looking for comments on how companies verify the US Citizenship requirement for documented boats. I guess publicly traded companies are owned by shareholders and there is no requirement for citizenship in order to buy shares in any company. When (if) they find out will they do anything?

Just passed 500ton/nc master! Holy $#*t, what a feeling of relief of the load on my shoulders. Had to sit in the parking lot of the REC for about 20 min. just to regain my composure enough to drive home. Anyway, I studied EVERYDAY for the last 4 or 5 months, usually @ 4-6 hours. Started every session with a 50 ques. ROTR practice test. Followed with terrestrial nav., did 1 of each type of question. Spent @ 12 days at fletchers learning the formulas and formats. Plotting was fairly easy, probably because I enjoyed it. Make sure you know how to plot a running fix.
I then spent a couple of hours studying NG, DG, and DS. Know how to navigate the CFR’s!!!
I aced the Terr. and the plotting and only missed 1 rotr.
NG, DG, and DS were a little tougher than I was prepared for.I think the main thing to do with these, is to relax and take your time. These are basically open book exams. You’ve got plenty of time to complete these exams, use as much a you need, there are no extra points for speed.
Remember, there is no place on your license that gives your scores. 35 out of 50 is still a passing score!

Congratulations, BT! Nice to have all that hard work pay off.

No kidding. Just completed 1600 test with oceans and still twitchen a day later. Your absolutely right though. Take your time and use all the 3 hours for each module. cFRs were the worst for me but managed an 80% to pass . NG and DG. Know those formulas to get those questions right. Anyone needing info on the Q’s I had, hit me up and I’ll be happy to share, I still think the USCG is in an old era of questions but that’s what we have to deal with untill the administration has a haul out and complete bottom to top job.

Wow, the NMC is fast these days. I just completed testing for 500t master/nc on Tues. 12-21, and when I got home on Christmas day my license was in my mailbox! It was just a bunch of stickers, of course. But hey, what a great gift! For the rest of you still working for this, STUDY RELENTLESSLY EVERYDAY!!!

Wish I was as lucky as you. Took almost 3 weeks after passing exams to get my upgrade last month. The absolute slowest experience with the NMC. This was my 3rd upgrade, been upgrading almost every year since my original in 2007. This by far was the worse. Glad it turned out fast for you.

I just took most of my 500 Ton master. What a relief to have gotten through 5 of the six modules missed my chart plot by one. I will be retaking it next week second guessed myself on a answer and changed it. I agree with most of the remarks KNOW your freaking material in the room. ROR and T nav I thought where super easy. Deck safety and deck general where the kickers they gave me all my stability questions on deck safety. I didn’t have a SINGLE stability question on deck general not a one I didn’t even pull out the calculator once on deck. Nav general was a marathon in bow-ditch glossary and coastal pilot I found almost every question in there I passed the test because of this. Deck safety I thought was the hardest module it was all CFR regarding safety equipment. It also had a bunch of stability math on it. This module was a big mix mash of everything! All I can say is lap-ware really really helped me I cant preach enough about it and how much it helped me. I saw a ton of questions from it.

Great job man! You’re almost there.

Sent from my SeaPhone using gCaptain

Good for you!

And now you only have one mod to study for.

How sweet it is!

I thought you had to pass all of modules in one day.

No you can take a few modules a day.

Is the terrestrial section still a section for 500/1600??

It is. 10 questions, I think. Must get a 90 or better. Azimuth/Amplitude, ETA, distance off, sunrise, sunset, time tick, fuel consumption, prop slip. All the fun stuff.

it is a big sigh of relief to be done with most of it BUT I still am not done and till I am done I will continue to work. All I can say is it isnt impossible but you gotta really want it and put in the time and lots of time.