Hands-On Hints #4
You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Submitted by Mike Ahlee, San Diego County Director


Those six little words (actually four of them are little, two are big words) that nobody wants to hear ďyou have erred in your procedureĒ, are words that can ruin your whole day.  Then of course you have to stand there and listen to an explanation of what you did wrong.  This is sort of like adding insult to injury.  As much as you donít like to hear these words, your Proctor does not like to say these words.  Sometimes itís just plain unavoidable.  Usually an explanation from the Proctor is all it takes.  Most of the time you hear the explanation and think about it, then smack yourself in the forehead and say #&%$@#&*%$*@&%^ I canít believe I did that! However, occasionally the explanation will leave you scratching your head and talking to yourself.

In circumstances like this, you donít have to walk away talking to yourself, you can actually ask for a better explanation.  Proctors are very well trained, but as you know nobodyís perfect.  You have the right to an on-site appeal anytime you feel the Proctor has made an error.  You can go to the Proctor-in-Charge and plead your case.  If youíre disputing that you did what the Proctor says you did, that will be a very tough case to make.  However if you are disputing that what you did was not a cause for failure, you may be able to make your case.  As Proctors, we must view your actions in the light of whether or not they may have caused erroneous results.  It does not matter whether they affected your test results, rather itís whether or not they could have affected your test results.  Your Proctor must be able to make the case that your actions could have led to erroneous test results.  If you believe that the case has not been made, you have every right to appeal that decision to the on-site Proctor-in-Charge.  If youíre unhappy with that decision you may also appeal in writing to the Program Administrator.  Typically, these types of disputes will be handled by the on-site Proctor-in-Charge to everyoneís satisfaction.

Sometimes itís difficult to know what constitutes an error and what does not.  Some parts of the test procedure are totally arbitrary and could not affect the outcome of the test one way or another.  Other parts of the test are critical and definitely can affect the outcome of the test.  If youíre not sure, itís best to follow the procedures exactly as written. A good example of test procedures that have an arbitrary order is the pressure vacuum breaker test.  These three steps can be done in any order, and will not affect the outcome of the test in any way:

Step a.  Remove air inlet valve canopy. 

Step b.  Bleed water through both test cocks to eliminate foreign material. 

Step c. Install appropriate fittings to test cocks. 

A good example of the test procedure that can affect the outcome of the test would be Steps h.and i. of the reduced pressure principle test procedures (relief valve opening point test).  Step h. completes the procedure for bleeding the air out of the hose and gauge.  The next step asks you to close the number two shutoff valve and then note the apparent pressure drop across the number one check.  In both of these steps, the order is critical.  In step h., if you close the low side first and then the high side, you will fail your exam. The explanation from your Proctor would go something like this:  Prior to the relief valve opening point test any time you have the high side flowing water without the low side flowing water you run the risk of discharging the relief valve prematurely.  Closing the low side first would allow the high side to be running all by itself; this constitutes a critical error. 

In step i., if you were to make a note of the apparent pressure drop across the first check prior to closing the number two shut off valve this too would be considered a critical error.  The explanation would be that until number two shutoff valve is closed you could still have flow through the assembly; thus any reading obtained would not be accurate as an apparent pressure drop .  The apparent pressure drop is critical because it is used as a reference point two and sometimes three more times during the test. 

These are just a couple of examples of things that would be considered errors and the explanations you would receive.  There are many others, as well as many things that can be done out of sequence that would not be considered errors.  If youíre not sure, the best thing to do is ask before you start your exam.

Good luck on your next exam and as usual, happy testing.


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Comments to denise@socalabpa.org
Revised 06/16/2005 5:01 PM