That Four Letter Word Exam – Part 3

That Four Letter Word Exam – Part 3

  • By Kalpna Solanki, CPHI(C) BSc MBA

Every January, using a new level of functionality that has been implemented in the EOCP’s Customer Relationship Manager, there is an evaluation of the pass/fail rates of exams written by Operators during the preceding year.

The results for 2020 for Bulk Water Delivery, Small Systems, and OIT exams (EOCP exams) are:

Discipline Pass Rate
BWD 100%
SWS 97%
SWWS 68%
OIT 94%


And for Levels I to IV (Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) exams):

I 74% 95% 86% 90% 68%
II 88% 96% 66% 75% 64%
III   100% 78% 91% 52%
IV   56% 38% 75% 30%


At any time when there is a pass rate below 50%, an inquiry is conducted as to the possible cause/s of the low pass rate.

Some of the queries are:

  1. How are other jurisdictions using the same exam faring?
  2. Is the exam too difficult?
  3. Did the instructor use the most up to date Need To Know (NTK) criteria?
  4. How did the Operators writing the exams prepare for them?
  5. Which sections of the exams did Operators have difficulty with?

In response to the questions above:

  1. Other jurisdictions
    1. For WD IV, another jurisdiction had a pass rate of more than 60%
    2. For WWT IV, another jurisdiction had a pass rate of more than 50%
  2. In terms of the level of difficulty, these exams have been compiled by Operators who have a great deal of industry knowledge. Speaking with some of them, they indicate that Level IV exams across the board are difficult; specifically, WWT IV is the most difficult, and has the most math.  However, they all are in agreement that whilst the exams are difficult, they are fair.
  3. NTK Criteria
    1. The EOCP advises training providers of any changes to the NTK criteria well in advance of changes taking place, and again after changes have been implemented. Training providers have assured us that they do update their training materials in congruence with changes in the NTK criteria.
    2. Due to the complexity of the Level IV exams, Operators have been advised that taking only a course will not prepare them for an exam. A great deal of additional work needs to be done.  Some previously mentioned resources are at the EOCP website at  In addition, Page 9 of the Operator Digest available at lists resources recommended by Operators, and Page 11 of the Operator Digest available at has additional resources.
  4. Math is hard. Invariably, in almost every exam situation, we find that Operators have the most difficulty with math.  The EOCP has therefore provided several math only resources at its website, and will provide additional links as they become available:

We recognize that failing an exam can be discouraging, especially when a great deal of effort has been expended to prepare for them.  We have had several discussions with ABC regarding the low pass rate of some exams, and ABC will:

  1. Provide revised NTK criteria
  2. Provide more sample questions
  3. Have its psychometrician conduct a detailed exam analysis to ensure the exams capture the necessary material

In the meantime, the EOCP will provide in each issue of the Operator Digest an exam question sample, and will keep you apprised of changes in NTK criteria and/or other exam related issues as they come develop.

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