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 -