The approved Master/Mate 200 and Master/Mate Uninspected Fishing Courses include four weeks of lecture and as much supplementary preparatory time as the candidate needs to feel ready for the examinations. There are five examinations. These can all be scheduled at the end of the lecture cycle or they can be taken at the end of the week that covers the particular subject area. In order to complete the course successfully, the candidate must pass all five exams with the assigned passing percentages.
The simplest method of approaching the course is to begin with Week A, Rules of the Road. This week includes five days of lecture, after which the candidate should have a good overview of the Rules of the Road as well as an appreciation of the many “details” the the prudent mariner must grasp in order to be in compliance with the Rules– and pass the examination. These “details” include the various lights and shapes of the various vessels, the appropriate sound signals – in sight and in or near an area of restricted visibility – and the maneuvering situations prescribed the Rules. Most of the time, the candidate who is encountering the Rules for the first time needs several more days of study to commit their essential features to memory. Candidates may test out on the Rules on the last day of the class or any time thereafter. No testing may occur before the candidate has completed the five days of lectures.
Week B covers Chart Navigation. This is a difficult week. Most candidates sit through this week’s lectures, work all the exercises in the workbook, and then practice sample chart problems over the next two weeks. The Chart Navigation exam for this approved course is unforgiving. Consequently, it is unlikely that a student will be ready to take the test on the last day of this lecture week. He or she will probably need to use spare time – mornings and afternoons before and after lectures, weekends – to fine-tune the chart skills that are necessary for successful completion of the subject area.
Weeks C and D address the subjects covered on the Navigation General, Deck General and Deck Safety exams. These are all very broad areas and the candidate is directed to reinforce and extend what is given in the lecture with the material from the relevant sections of the workbook. Candidates may test on Navigation General at the end of Week C, or as soon thereafter as they wish. Deck and Safety are best tackled at the end of Week D. At this time, or within the next week, most candidates are also ready for the Chart Problem.
If a candidate must return to work during the course, he or she may test out on any subject areas for which he has attended lectures. The passed segments are valid for one year from the date of enrollment in the course. When all segments are completed (again, this must be within one year of enrollment), the candidate will be issued the course certificate which then may be taken to the USCG and translated into the appropriate license.
Remember no license is granted to anyone who has not been approved the USCG for that license. Successful completion of this course is not in itself sufficient for receiving the license. Application must be made with the Coast Guard to determine if the candidate has the background and experience to be eligible for the license.