Know Your Snapper! 3 Illinois Plumbing Exam Tips for the Practical Test

We just finished doing a test prep class with a student and we learned a couple things that we’d like to share with any apprentices preparing to take the state plumbing license exam in Illinois. Follow these 3 Illinois Plumbing Exam Tips for the practical portion of the test!

3 Illinois Plumbing Exam Tips for the Practical Test

1. Know your snapper & be able to cut cast iron straight

If you have a snapper for cutting cast iron pipe, make sure its in good condition before practicing and before going to Springfield for the test.

Oil your snapper. Take good care of your snapper – don’t be throwing it around in and out of your truck for no reason. And you have to practice, practice, practice.

If you don’t have a snapper that is in good condition then consider renting one from one of the big box stores. Be sure to practice a few cuts with it before the exam. You do not want to be trying to figure out how to use the snapper while you are in the test. It could hurt your testing time and cause unnecessary stress for you during the testing process.

If your cuts are crooked then its going to be difficult to be accurate on your exam. So practice a bunch to be able to cut cast iron straight.

2. Loosen the no-hub bands to easily slide on/off

Don’t struggle with trying to force your no-hub band onto the pipe. Loosen the band plenty so you have ample room to move it around on the pipe.

When you go to tighten the bands, make sure you have true alignment on the pipe. Squeeze the band to make sure it aligned and to make tightening the screws easier. I recommend snugging one side, then snugging the other side. Next, tighter one side, then tighten the other so its tightened evenly.

There’s an 1/8″ rubber stop on the inside of the rubber no-hub connector to make sure your pipe gets all the way home and you get a solid connection. Make sure you account for this 1/8″ in your calculations and cuts.

3. Use shooter pieces but monitor your material

Many plumbers will save time by eye-balling their cuts or using shooter pieces. This will save time but could also hurt you if you end up wasting a lot of pipe. You can only bring so much pipe with you so make sure you have practiced and are confident in your eyeballing abilities when it comes to cutting and piping. If you run out of pipe, you won’t be able to finish the exam which would result in a failing grade on the Illinois plumbing exam.

The test overall is 5.0 hours so it might appear that you have plenty of time. However, in that time you have to get instructions, travel from one part of the building to another, get your tools and equipment, then finish the 50-60 question in the written portion of the exam, draw a two-story building with a basement while labeling everything, complete a copper project, and complete a cast iron/PVC project.

So you likely have plenty of time but it only takes one mishap or mistake to cost you a big chunk of that time. This is why things like servicing your tools, knowing your snapper, practicing cuts, properly installing no-hub bands and using shooter pieces can help you be ready and have a plan for the exam. Readiness is critical for passing the test the first time.

Need help preparing for the IL Plumbing Exam?

Want more than just these 3 Illinois Plumbing Exam Tips? We hold occasional workshops throughout the year to help apprentices get prepared for the IL Plumbing Exam. During the workshop we will explain the test to you so you know what to expect on the day of the test, review important things to know for the test, and do a hands-on project to prepare for the practical portion of the exam. Click here to learn more or contact us today.


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