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Home / Apprenticeship / How To Prepare Your NEC Code Book For An Electrical Exam
highlighted nec code book

How To Prepare Your NEC Code Book For An Electrical Exam

Whether you’re a first year apprentice or getting ready to take the journeyman’s or master’s license exam, the National Electrical Code book is going to either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Finding information in the NEC is very difficult if you don’t understand the layout and know how to use it to your advantage.

You can learn more about the NEC here.

So I’m going to show you how to properly prepare your code book to help you pass any exam.

Learning how to use the NEC is like learning to play the game of chess. There’s a system to using the code book and knowing how to use that system is key.

Highlighting and tabbing your code book is the most effective way to increase your ability to find answers to questions related to the code.

study for electrical exam
If you follow these instructions you won’t end up like Homer.

Using Tabs On NEC Code Book

Placing tabs throughout the code is the first step to improving your ability to find information in the NEC. Lucky for you its affordable, time saving, and a must have.

2014 nec code book tabs

I used EZ Tabs from the Electrical Association for my code book. EZ Tabs make studying the code book a lot easier and improves your speed when searching for answers.

As you can see they’re color coded by chapter which makes it easier to locate where you should look before you even open the book. These EZ Tabs are the perfect tool for helping you organize your code book.

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Testing centers will not allow post-it notes to be used as tabs.

The tabs are super easy to install. They’re clear so you can place them exactly on the edge of the page.

Instructions are provided and they explain where to place each tab. Plus, it only takes maybe 5 or 10 minutes to put all of them on your code book.

You have the option to use all 96 tabs or just index certain areas you refer to most. Do yourself a favor and pick up a set – they cost around $15.

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Best Way to Highlight Your NEC Code Book

The 2014 National Electrical Code or NFPA70 is 910 pages long, separated into 9 Chapters, broken down into 125 Articles, including 12 Tables, 10 Annexes and 1 Index.

To make it easier to find specific information related to an exam question, you’re going to break down each article within the code by: Parts, Sub-articles, and specifics. Each one get it’s own special color.

highlight nec code book
Pick up a pack of these Sharpies, they cost less than $5.

I used ORANGE for parts, GREEN for sub-articles, and PINK for specific info within each sub-article.

My first choice was blue, but it was dried out and I was stuck with pink.

Parts (I, II, III, IV,…..)

nec code book highlight

Some of the articles in the code are very large and need to be sub-divided. This separates the main subject within the article into groups of information making it more user friendly.

Pick a color use it only for “parts” within your code book. By doing this you’ll be able to know right away if you’re looking in the “Under 600 Volts” section or “Over 600 Volts” within an article.

For example, in the picture below I’ve highlighted Part IV. This is an easy visual clue that lets me know I’m looking at short-circuit and ground fault protection for motor branch circuits, and not motor overload protection (Part III).


An article would be “430 Motors, Motor Circuits, and Controllers” and a sub-article would be “430.52 Rating or Setting For Individual Motor Circuit”.

Sub-articles are the next phase of breaking down the information in the code. This is where you can start to over highlight the NEC.

Specifics Within Sub-Articles

Restrain yourself from highlighting EVERYTHING. In some areas I got a little carried away and started highlighting a lot more than should have been (as you can see).

Now, highlighting and tabbing aren’t the only things you can do to prepare for an electrical exam. Here’a great video from the electrical training expert Mike Holt who talks about a few more things that will help.

If you have any tips and tricks make sure you leave a comment below.

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