After taking a tester course, often in order to register with the county or state government, or local water purveyor(s), you have to take certain exams. Sometimes the exams are with the purveyor or government itself ( often so in California ) or you may need a particular 3rd party exam that is accepted by the state ( AWWA, ABPA, ASSE, or similar) – such as Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, among others. Many times our basic course certification is enough to test preventers in maintenance situations, such as irrigation, but in order to test on new construction or the annual tests on water purveyors’ lines, you will likely need to take an exam and register with some entities.
The additional exams, specifically the third party ones like ABPA and AWWA, can be very difficult and stressful, and students sometimes take the exam 2 or 3 times before they successfully complete. We used to host exams after the courses, or attempt to as often as possible, but the pass rate was much lower than if the student is given some time to study / prepare after the course. If you take our course but fail your exams, we allow students to re-take the course at half price to further prepare.
Scheduling is done directly with the exam provider and the cost is separate from the training costs, ABPA exams are currently $165 per applicant, CA-NV-AWWA ones are currently $305. If the state or purveyor accepts these programs, you just need to do their exam, but some counties or cities ( notably California ) often require testers to take their own exam on top of any other ones, and also have additional fees. For county / local / purveyor exams, check out our California Page where we have a breakdown per county of licensing requirements. County Exams are often done infrequently, so you might be waiting months to get on the schedule for them.
ABPA Course Calendar & Registration Info - www.abpa.org/page/Tester_Cert - Exam dates are tricky to find - there is a link half way down that says "to register for an exam, please visit our site calendar" and it takes you to the list.
CA-NV-AWWA Course Calendar & Registration Info - www.ca-nv-awwa.org/canv/CNS/Professional_Certification/Backflow_Prevention_Assembly_Tester/CNS/Certification/Backflow/Backflow.aspx - Bottom Left there is a chart that breaks down the available exam dates.
You can also host your own exams. This is the preferred method if you don’t want to travel and there are no open exams available near you. Our contact to schedule exams with ABPA is Brittany - 801-436-7238 - firstname.lastname@example.org – and with AWWA is Gina – 909-291-2100 - email@example.com – Since the availability of exams is often not the best, and there are only so many proctors in a given area, we suggest that you submit with a minimum of 10 ( 20 is preferred ) spaces and mark them as “open enrollment” on the sheet, not “private” – If you do not have the USC diagnostic fail able test rigs, it is not a problem, and usually the proctors bring their own rigs anyway and you can request that. You will need to provide your own gauge for AWWA, and often also for ABPA although sometimes they can provide them as well.
We have a Exam Prep Guide - download here - which outlines what is on the exams and how to prepare for them. The exam providers also have booklets outlining what is included in their exams - ABPA's can be downloaded here - CA-NV-AWWA's can be downloaded here - it is probably a good idea to skim through the booklets and familiarize yourself with the format. The exam will come in two separate parts, a written and a practical exam.
Written Exam - This is usually 100 multiple choice questions for ABPA and most states, AWWA has a format where there is a 50 question general exam and a 25 troubleshooting one. State and Local ones vary but are usually 100 or fewer questions and multiple choice. The questions are based on the Backflow Tester Worker Designation's required "need to know criteria" which is included in the exam prep guide but it's essentially just the information covered in the USC 10th Edition Manual.
Practical Exam - This is outlined extensively in the exam prep guide. You have to test all four types of assemblies ( RP, DCV, PVB, SVB ) and they will be set up in a way that they mock failures on the rigs. The test have to be completed using the USC 10th Standard Procedures, and then also any troubleshooting additional steps outlined in the diagnostics.
We do have a few free resources available for you.
The Exam Prep Guide has breakdowns on how the assemblies are set up and what conditions they can be in on the exam. This does help with studying because the USC 10th and most schools' procedures include conditions that you will not encounter such as multiple failures or things that cannot be simulated. We have YouTube videos outlining the possible failures you can encounter as well as general tips and tricks below:
Illustrated and Unillustrated testing procedures including diagnostric extra steps are included in the Exam Prep Guide.
All of our prep materials are based on the 2-valve kit that we sell, called the Kruger Instruments TK-2. Some exams will provide gauges to the applicants, other exams will not and expect you to bring one. Sometimes they want to see a recent gauge calibration, other times they don't mention it. USC has the same procedures for all gauge arrangements on the DCV, SVB, and PVB, but on the RP there are differences in the procedures if using a 2 valve, 3 valve, or 5 valve kits. They are largely the same but some differences, so it's not recommended to prepare for the exam with a 2 valve kit and then take the exam with a different configuration. Gauges used in the field do need to be ASSE 1064 compliant, sometimes they have to be on a specific list with the jurisdiction, other times there is no list. They are considered to be private label kits and similar to the Watts TK-9A but in a different configuration and increased accuracy ratings from the factory due to the way the measurements on the dial are made. More info on these offerings are online at www.krugerinstruments.com