What Are CAST Tests?
The Construction And Skilled Trades (CAST) test was created by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) as a means of assessing the participant's aptitude for roles in facility maintenance/repair, electrical repair, vehicle maintenance and a number of other skilled trades. As such, it often makes up a part of the employment application process for these types of roles.
The EEI CAST test is actually a battery of tests used to assess an applicant's existing aptitude and their potential to learn information key to success in a specific role. There are four paper-and-pencil tests in CAST, and it takes around two hours to complete.
The four tests that make up the full CAST test are as follows:
- Graphic Arithmetic – this test is entirely based around two drawings. The candidate is expected to use the information presented in the drawings to solve arithmetic problems. The test has 16 questions and lasts for 30 minutes.
- Mechanical Concepts – this section is made up of 44 multiple-choice questions. Each question requires the participant to select from three possible answers that relate to a picture that describes a mechanical situation. The candidate has 20 minutes to complete this section.
- Reading for Comprehension – candidates are presented with four written passages and given 30 minutes to answer 32 questions that test their ability to comprehend information within.
- Mathematical Usage – this test involves answering 18 multiple-choice questions in a time limit of 7 minutes. These questions assess the candidate's ability to process and solve basic mathematical problems. As the time limit is quite short, candidates are advised to budget their time effectively and not linger on any one question.
CAST Test Scoring
The CAST test is scored either by machine or by hand – different test providers will handle it differently. The scores from all four sections of the CAST test are collated into a single overall score, called the Index Score, which ranges from 1 to 10 (1 is the lowest, 10 is the highest). A candidate's overall Index Score in the CAST test reflects the predicted probability of them being successful in the given role.
There is no singular 'passing score' for the CAST exam since it is an employment exam to assess aptitude for a variety of job roles. Therefore, employers are encouraged to define their own score standards for any given position. In a competitive recruiting environment, a successful performance on the CAST test doesn't guarantee you will be hired.
CAST Exam Practice Questions
1. Graphic Arithmetic
This question is designed to assess a candidate's ability to interpret a floor plan graphic with dimensions for all the walls and rooms. The question directs the candidate to examine the information that is provided in order to calculate a value that isn't directly given, and the accompanying explanation will help you to understand how the answer is calculated.
2. Mechanical Concepts
This question is designed to test the candidate's understanding of weight distributions when a fulcrum is involved. It is representative of the standard format for the Mechanical Concepts part of the exam.
3. Mathematical Usage
Question: 4 furlongs = ? rods
The correct answer is a) 160 rods (4 furlongs x 40 rods).
This question requires the candidate to analyze the units of measurement to compile information and interpret an answer by using basic arithmetic. It is a multiple-choice question, and the possible answers are all very different, so the candidate may only need to be able to calculate a rough estimate of the answer to select the option closest to their calculation.
Why Take the CAST Test?
If you already have a job in construction and wish to elevate your status, you can show your potential to your employer by passing the CAST test. It will help you demonstrate the knowledge, skills and innate abilities required to excel in a role with more responsibility.
If you are just entering the construction industry, completing a CAST test will provide employers with a standardized assessment of your skills and aptitudes, which will help them evaluate your suitability for a role. You will find that many employers in skilled trades will require you to take the test as part of the recruitment phase, so see it as an opportunity to show what you're made of.
When Will I Need to Take the CAST Test?
There are many companies in the construction and skilled trades industries that require job applicants to take the CAST test as part of the screening phase of recruitment. The job roles involved in this process include, but are not limited to:
- facilities and repair
- transmission and distribution
- electrical repair
- meter service and repairs
- machining and vehicular repair.
There are many corporations that utilize the CAST exam as part of their hiring process, including:
- The PSEG Foundation
- NextEra Energy, Inc.
- CenterPoint Energy
- Hawaiian Electric.
The CAST test is not administered directly by EEI; individual utility companies administer the test independently. As such, there is no published data from EEI to indicate how many people take the exam each year or what scores people manage to achieve.
With that said, EEI represents hundreds of organizations and companies all over the United States, which collectively employ more than 500,000 staff. This indicates that the CAST exam is likely taken by a few thousand job applicants every single year.
Preparing for a CAST Test
The best way to prepare for the test is to develop a strong understanding of both its content and structure.
- a detailed overview of the CAST test
- a thorough analysis of the mechanical concepts you are likely to encounter
- a complete review of what reading comprehension and mathematical usage involves
- a breakdown of what is covered in graphic arithmetic
- lots of CAST practice test questions with full explanations of all answers
If you are taking the CAST test soon and are feeling anxious about whether or not you can achieve a high Index Score, the best advice is to engage with lots of CAST test prep. The better equipped you are before walking into the examination, the better your chances of success and making it through that phase of the hiring process.