Why Codewest API Exam Preparation

CodeWest has provided technical codes and standards training to industry professionals since 1990. We presented our first – and THE first – API-510 Exam Prep Course over 25 years ago. Since that first 510 course we have developed API-570 Process Piping, API-653 Storage Tank Exam Prep and API-1169 Pipeline Prep Courses as well.

CodeWest has trained over 10000 candidates for the American Petroleum Institute (API) Inspector Certification Program exams through our US public exam prep courses alone.

We have also developed courses covering ASME Section IX, VIII Div. 1 and ASME V. API 650 and 653 can be covered in a non-exam prep format too. These courses are typically suited to an individual customer’s requirements and presented at the customers facility. Emphasis may be placed on design, inspection, or just every day implementation of code requirements at any level.

Don Locke
President, CodeWest

Understanding vs. Memorization

Some companies emphasize memorization as an instructional technique. This usually involves flash cards similar to those used in grade school for insuring the transfer and retention of basic facts and terminology to young students. This is only the first step in training. While it is true that portions of the certification exams rely heavily on memory, memory alone does not ensure recall of the information required to answer the questions, nor does it provide the understanding required to apply the information independently in problem solving applications


When you are confronted with new information you need to be able to process it and relate it to information and skills you currently have. If you have simply memorized the information with no reference to context, you will not have the capability of applying it as required on the examination or on the job. CodeWest exam prep courses are structured to impart the information and the understanding and confidence to apply it -- on the exam and on the job.

Click here for summary of CodeWest Training Methods


Broad Expertise vs. Limited Resources

Multidisciplinary curriculums covering everything from engineering design and metallurgy to NDE and welding document review can be difficult for a single individual to address. To ensure accurate coverage of all these diverse areas we use instructors with extensive backgrounds and the best credentials to write, edit, and present our courses. No one instructor may be an authority in all areas; but all instructors have access to those who are. This cooperative development ensures accuracy and added depth that other companies can not match with their limited resources and lack of hands-on-experience. Candidates attending our courses after attending others have commented on our added in-depth coverage.

Originality, Experience, and Commitment

CodeWest and our instructors originated API 510 courses in 1990. We have attended the API Task Group on Inspection Codes and specific inspection document committee meetings since then, and have contributed to the development of the programs as well. We are also politically active in supporting acceptance of API programs in the legal jurisdictions that regulate, or are considering regulation, of the equipment covered by industry standards. We are committed to acceptance of the API codes and standards and we have and will continue to invest our money, time, and corporate resources in supporting API Inspectors in their efforts to build a career. We put our resources to work to ensure the value of your certifications.

An Outline of CodeWest Training Methods

  It is well known that API inspector certification typically leads to qualified individuals securing long term employment earning some of the best pay in the oil and gas industry.  What is not so well understood is that the API examinations -- API 510/570/653/1169 are extremely difficult to pass. If one looks at statistics for any given examination at a computer based exam center, the typical pass rate for first time exam takers is in the 30 – 40 percent range!  Exams are given covering hundreds of pages of text that most people would say must be memorized.  This is false…there is absolutely no way that volume of material can be memorized (although some memorization does occur).  

 If one is looking for exam prep training to be a short, intense period rather than a long-drawn-out process, the proven training methods that have long been employed by CodeWest results in more than doubling pass rates (80+ %) by first time exam takers. We have trained more than 10,000 inspectors over a period of 20 plus years.  CodeWest training techniques are admittedly somewhat unorthodox.  Our methods are similar to those used in immersion language training which involves putting oneself in situations where one is forced to begin to speak and understand a language simply to function in normal situations.

CodeWest utilizes the actual API designated codes and standards (edited and hi-lighted) as a first exposure to specific documents by the instructor scrolling the marked-up text (PDF files) on a large screen, using standard computer and LED projector, while providing cogent commentary.  The student is exposed to information in a repetitive fashion in order to trigger recognition of correct answers on multiple choice exams (we call this a repetition-recognition technique).  The second exposure is achieved by providing the student with a manual containing condensed code text to read.  A third exposure is accomplished by providing a series of sample questions as homework (virtually identical to those on the API exam) and a fourth exposure by providing an answer key to those questions.  Further exposure may be achieved by using those same (or similar) questions on one of two final practice exams.

Immersion (in this case in the codes and standards used) is typically a sink-or-swim method of learning, and it turns out that because people are wired for learning using written text, they almost inevitably swim rather than sink when repetitively exposed to applicable information.    

Use of immersion techniques doesn’t just work much faster than traditional classroom training -- there’s evidence that it works better, too. In its purest form, immersion learning involves basically spending every training day focusing intensely on new information for short periods of time.  Also since the open book portion of API examinations requires extensive navigation of the actual codes and standards (PDF files) use of traditional techniques such as PPT slides are simply not productive.

After experimenting early on we have found that our 8 day course (including a final practice exam) works best for individuals that have at least some experience.  For those with lesser experience we employ a 10 day course.   

Marvin Coats SME
Codes & Standards Consultant 


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