In the last blog post I mentioned two documents that serve as the CWI exam playbooks. These are the AWS B5.1. Specification for the Qualification of Welding Inspectors and the QC1:2007 Standard for AWS Certification of Welding Inspectors. Completely overlooking these documents is one of the most common mistakes made by prospective CWIs. The B5.1 and the QC1 are treasure-troves of vital information. They include everything from the books that can be used to prepare for the exam, to the topic to be covered.
The QC1 document outlines the exact structure, breakdown, and requirements for the CWI exam. Ignoring the information in QC1 is like playing a game when you don’t know the rules. As a test taker, you should be seeking to increase your advantages whenever possible. The information presented in the QC1 is supplemented by the information on the AWS CWI webpage http://www.aws.org/certification/CWI/.
The CWI Exam is divided into three parts identified by the letters A, B, and C. Part A of the CWI exam assesses the participants understanding of fundamental welding knowledge. According to the QC1 the CWI Part A exam contains a minimum of 150 questions that must be answered within a two hour period.
In an exam consisting of 150 questions, participants will have a maximum of 45 seconds to answer any given question. Knowing this ahead of time will allow you to pace yourself during the exam. If any individual question is taking you too long to answer, skip the question and move on to the next one. Go back to the question if you have time when you have completed the test. If you don’t have time to think about the question, then guess. Do not leave any questions unanswered.
A minimum score of 72% is required to pass Part A of the CWI exam. Therefore, participants have to correctly answer 108 of the 150 questions successfully complete this section of the exam. In other words, participants can miss up to 42 questions and still pass Part A of the exam. This doesn’t mean that you should haphazardly ignore questions, or assume you have answered enough questions to pass the exam. Your goal should be to maximize the number of correct questions in each part of the exam. A little known clause in the QC1 standard states that any participant who fails one section of the exam (Parts A, B or C) and yet attains a composite score of at least 72%, will only be required to retake the part of the exam they failed—as opposed to all three parts.
Part B of the CWI exam is the inspection practical. The practical exam covers a vast range of topics including welding examination and nondestructive test processes, with a focus on visual inspection. Participants are provided with visual inspection tools, plastic replicas of welds, and a sample codebook (Book of Specifications) to complete this part of the exam. Part B of the CWI exam contains a minimum of 46 questions that must be completed in two hours. In a best case scenario, participants will have a little over two and a half minutes to answer each question. Like Part A, participants must correctly answer 72% of the questions (34 out of 46) to pass Part B of the exam.
Part C of the CWI exam is an open-book test that establishes the participant’s ability to locate and understand information in a code book. While AWS currently provides training for only the D1.1 and API1104 Part C exams, participants can also sign up to take the code book exam utilizing AWS D1.2/D1.2M (Aluminum); D1.5M/D1.5 (Bridge Welding Code); AWS D15.1 (Railroad Welding Code); ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Sections VIII and IX, or ASME Section IX, B31.1, and B31.3. In 2014, AWS will begin providing online training for some of these code clinic exams.
Part C of the AWS CWI exam contains a minimum of 46 questions that must be answered in a two hour timeframe. In a best case scenario, participants will have a little over two and a half minutes to answer each question. As with Part A and Part B, participants will need to score at least a 72% in order to pass Part C of the exam.
Understanding the contents, structure, and grading scale are essential first steps towards passing the CWI exam. In next week’s blog post we will discuss other important things you need to know about the CWI exam. Come back next Tuesday to learn more!