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I passed my AM2 in early January (2021), so most of the experience is still fairly fresh in my head.
All test centres are supposed to be the same, however your mileage may vary. I wasn't perfect and my word certainly isn't gospel- and if your reading this 5 years from now after googling 'how to pass your AM2 then take this with a pinch of salt as some test requirements may have changed. That being said; Good Luck! (and have fun)
[I'll also try to update this with some of my own questions/pointers as I get my thoughts a little more organised].
mmm any questions .... well what advice would you give to students pondering wether to isolate a mains board and under pressure , to work live ???
Not quite the question I had in mind, but I'll give it a go;
Officially my answer is and always will be to follow the recommended health and safety advice; Always follow procedure, isolate, and lock off unless theres a both a reasonable exemption for working live and its unreasonable to make it dead. (such as the live tests during inspection and testing).
[This is how it will be in the exam]
Unfortunately we all know the real world is much more of a mess than the classroom; ultimately you are an adult so you have to make your own decisions. Your final answer will vary massively depending on your skill/experience, the type of work your doing, the nature and layout of the board, and any additional risks to the public. A modern board with a minimal number of exposed live parts and recessed terminals you couldn't touch if you wanted to is miles apart from an old industrial board with 4 chunky busbars and a sign saying "touch here to solve all your problems."
At the bare minimum isolate the individual circuit(s) you're actively working on. Beyond that take reasonable steps to keep yourself and others safe- if you're in doubt then err on the side of caution and lock it off anyway.
To the best of my knowledge under Health and Safety law your employer cannot force you to work in an unsafe condition- so if you decide to isolate then stick to your guns and don't be bullied into working live.
(If you go this route, do your best to reduce the downtime as much as possible.)
"surely though the best advice you could offer to potential learners would be to study themselves and gain a proper understanding of their chosen trade rather than looking for a quick fix."
Yeah, true. I studied my ass off to pass mine, and I still had handfuls of odd/random questions that would benefit from a Q&A thread like this. Even with 'proper' studying the last minute cramming has saved my sorry rear on more than one exam. Best of both worlds my friend.
If I remember rightly, Pyro out FP in as well as CAT 5 and S plan valves the rest is still the same. Its the closest practical test to working on site.
Should I go on a Pre-AM2 assessment day?
I found it useful, you get talked through the exam and pick up a lot of tips on how to save time and some common pitfalls to avoid.
A lot of this was new information I hadn't gained from college/online help. Its also a very good oppotunity to ask questions, so start writing them down now and take them with you.
In all honesty I probably would not have passed without attending the pre-AM2
What else can I do before the day?
Go to the address of your exam and physically locate the front door, car-park ect. (please don't disturb any exams in progress)
Note- this might be at a different location to the business address of the test centre or the address you attended on your pre-AM2 day.
You'll get an email confirming your booking, this will have the actual address of your assessment.
Plan your journey to arrive half-hour early. (not half hour late like the other guy did after he arrived at the main office!)
What materials are given for the exam?
A4 folder (handbook), with a step-by-step guide on what to do for each section of the exam. You're given time between sections to read this. Its worth the read.
Wall mounted A4 folder, with all the charts and diagrams for the installation. This includes flow-charts explaining how the boiler circuit works, and a detailed diagram of the pre-wired motor-starter.
A3 print out of the installation block diagram (telling you what cable to use)
A3 print out of the boiler-circuit wiring diagram
On site guide, regs book, and guidence notes (inspection and testing) are also available.
How fast does the time go?
Pretty. Bloody. Fast. I had 5 minutes left on the main build, and 16 seconds on inspection and testing.
Don't panic, try to relax and focus to work efficiently and consistantly. Plan ahead as your finishing one stage so you don't have to stop and think 'what materials do I need next'
I'm also one of the slowest installers out there (ask my boss!) so theres easily enough time to build the installation (7.5hrs) and double check your work (55min).
The 8.5 hour build will likely run into the next day- the examiner will stop the clock and you simply carry on the morning after. The evening is a pretty good time to phone up mates/tutors and double check anything your not sure on.
Inspection and Testing
Before this section take your time to carefully read and understand the handbook, and learn how to use and zero the test equipment you're given.
During the exam follow the handbook to the letter, each test will need to be witnessed by the examiner.
Start by filling in as much of the certificate as possible, and fill in all the known information in your schedule of test results (circuit name, breaker type, cable size, max Zs ect, and N/A all the tests you don't need)- this will keep testing easier/more organised when you get going.
There is a final page after the test results with a few additional boxes- such as checking your answers for continuity of ring final conductors and which section of the on-site-guide has the max Zs values.
Scrap paper is available for making notes- use it as needed, but make sure to record your final answers in the schedule as soon as you get them.
You'll be testing your main installation, if you find any small faults now is the time to fix them. I had 2 of my phases reversed in the 3ph socket circuit (so I reversed them again in the outlet!), broken/loose connection in my data outlets (reconnect it), and some of my earths and neutrals were in the wrong terminals in the main DB (terminal must match circuit position).
Ring final sockets
Use the plug-in socket tester to save time. Remember to check polarity of the switch-fuse when you test the spurred-outlet.
Two-way and intemediate lighting
You'll need to test all switch combinations; the fastest way through this is to hit the switches like this: 1-2-3-2-1-2-3
For R1+R2, I was told since I installed it I only need to measure at the end point- saving me more time.
The handbook states the entire boiler circuit is considered vulnerable to testing (to save time), so test up to the switch-fuse only. Make a note of this vulnerability on your schedule of test results.
Switch the isolator when measuring your R1+R2 (for each phase), make sure isolator is on for insulation resistance.
Measure R1+R2 on both sides of the contactor, as this can only be switched when the circuit is energised.
Same for insulation resistance.
When carrying out your R1+R2, leave the vulnerable components disconnected ready for the insulation resistance tests (namely the RCBO, alarm, and lamp)
Also state to the examiner that you're testing polarity while your doing this.
Any tips for the fault-find?
You're given one fault at a time to diagnose, after each fault you call the examiner over to stop the clock- you then put the installation back together and s/he'll switch in the next fault before starting the clock.
This was where I bent the rules a little; after each diagnosis, I'd glance over the next fault in the list- and use my 'off the clock' rebuild time to plan the next sequence of fault-finding tests.
After you've finished the 7th fault, the timer is left running and you can request any fault to diagnose again. (unlimited requests, but one at a time and rebuild between faults).
The fault find booth is an identical layout to the main build. You can only remove covers on the outlets.
The continuity setting on your testing kit is your best friend here. The other tool I used was a data-point tester. (which you plug into the data outlets and watch the lights tick through)
All the faults are controlled by a bank of lightswitches outside the booth; meaning there are no faulty components, and you can only find them with the test meters provided. (so no tugging or following of cables).
If you find an actual fault with the installation- call over to the examiner who'll stop the clock and tell you to fix it. (I had a broken CPC in the switched-fuse of the alarm circuit). Sadly I did not get bonus marks for diagnosing the extra fault.
What faults did you have?/What are the questions like?
The questions describe the faulty circuit, some being quite detailed and other being more vague.
(this is not the exact wording)
"There was a problem getting a reading when testing the ring final circuit" (could be anywhere on the circuit)
"The boiler pump does not start, while the thermostat and controller are working perfectly" (telling me where to start looking)
"The motor does not operate correctly and the contactor 'chatters' " (theres only one place to look here)
Your answers to each question must describe the fault, its location, and state the method of repair. ALWAYS put 're-test the circuit' at the end of each answer.
Note- all the locations are numbered, so you can refer to them as point 17, point 4 ect if you prefer.
Open circuit on one channel of the data cable.
Open circuit in the alarm circuit.
High resistance on one of the bonding conductors.
Line-Earth connection on the lighting circuit
Open circuit in the ring-final outlets
Open circuit in the boiler-control circuit.
Open circuit on the hold-on contact of the motor starter
So my first two answers were along the lines of:
--"Open circuit on 3rd channel of data cable between points 18 and 19. Replace cable and re-test the circuit." and tick the box that says Open Circuit
--"Open circuit in the neutral between the fuse and distribution board. Replace cable and re-test the circuit." and tick the box that says Open Circuit
What can I revise for the online exam?
Its 30 questions, I had 5 on health and safety, 20 on electrical regs, and 5 on building regs.
I couldn't find any (free) mock questions for the AM2 version, so I revised with practice questions for the regs book exams. (2/3 of the marks!)
In general this is a test of your ability to find information rather than remember it, so use your revision time to practice finding the answers in the regs book. Set a stopwatch and keep practicing until you can comfortably find the answer within 2 minutes.
The building regs book I was given for the exam was an on-site-guide, making navigation very similar to the electrical OSG.
The health and safety questions I had were very softball questions with common sense answers. Give your old health and safety notes a look over and you'll be golden.
I've probably got a load more to write, but hopefully this gets the ball rolling.