Modern technology offers us numerous benefits previous generations may not have had access to; this extends to those studying for their vital contractor's license exam. We get one common question from prospective contractors entering the major study period for their exam: Is a laptop purchase worthwhile for this process?
At Contractors School, we're proud to provide numerous resources to those studying for the contractor's license exam in Utah, including both 25- and 30-hour contractor license classes. What factors should you consider when deciding whether to purchase or utilize a laptop for your contractor's exam studying needs, and which technology will be best for you if you go this route? Here's a general primer.
First and foremost, take the time to evaluate your current options in terms of laptops or other technology that might assist you in your studies. While a laptop will be your most flexible and convenient choice, it's not the only available option.
If you own or have access to a tablet (iPad, Android), these can also be quick and convenient choices for studying. A smartphone might also work for some people if they can find the right software.
Additionally, many people can take advantage of free online resources that don't require any device. Most study materials are available to download as PDFs that you can print out from a public source like a library. Other great study tools provide videos you can play without investing in a laptop or other expensive pieces of hardware.
If you can afford to invest in a laptop, tablet, or another device that meets your studying needs, there are two big questions you should ask yourself. First, what functionality do you need? If all you're looking for is an electronic textbook or a portable way to access online study materials, an inexpensive tablet might be enough.
If you're looking for something with more advanced functionality -- taking notes, storing files that you'll need for your studying (e.g., contracts, forms) without having to print them out each time, etc. -- likely a laptop will be your most cost-efficient choice.
For cases like these, the other question you'll want to be asking yourself is this: What other uses will the device I purchase have for me? While a contractor's license exam is very important, it will not be your sole focus for the next decade -- you'll also use the device for other tasks. It may not make sense to spend thousands on a brand new laptop if you don't have much other use for it, but -- conversely -- you probably don't want to invest in a cheap piece of hardware that will give out on you within six months.
While we all have different studying needs and styles, there are some generalities to research questions or practice exams you'll be taking. The first thing you need to consider is whether the exam you're studying for will have a closed book or open-book format. In most cases, contractor's license exams are taken on paper will have questions in a closed book format. You'll have a set amount of time to complete the test (which can range from half an hour to a full day) and will not be able to access any outside materials while you're taking it.
In cases where the exam is open-book, on the other hand, there are still some limitations to what you can have with you during testing. Usually, these exams either restrict the number of total pages you can bring in (e.g., 1 page of handwritten notes, 2 pages of typed notes) or the format you can bring them (e.g., paper, electronic notebook). Additionally, some open-book exams may have a limit on how long you can access any outside materials during testing. If you're using an iPad or other tablet to access materials during the exam, you may be required to shut it down at some point during testing.
Having a laptop with you at an open-book exam can make things easier when storing and accessing your notes or other important items (e.g., contracts, forms). This all depends on how you plan to use it and whether it's allowed by the testing facility.
And of course, you'll have to consider your budget for the exam. In general, you can find a decent used laptop for around $400-500, and easy-to-use tablets can be found on sale for as low as $100 (though high-quality ones will likely run closer to about $200). If you're buying a new laptop or tablet, prices will vary a bit depending on the functionality you need and what hardware is included in the price.
While many students use laptops during their licensing exam, some may find it easier to use a traditional textbook while taking the exam (since they're allowed to take up to two pages of handwritten notes). To avoid wasting money on a laptop, carefully review the policies of your testing facility before purchasing a device.
For more on laptop purchases for the contractor's licensing exam or to learn about any of our other exam resources for Utah contractors, speak to the team at Contractors School today.