What Is the EEI Test and What Is its Purpose?
Updated 23 June 2021
Almost all industry sectors use psychometric and aptitude tests as part of their candidate selection process, and the energy industry is no different. It is a fiercely competitive marketplace out there, with hundreds of people applying for each job.
As you would expect, energy companies want to make sure that they are hiring the best person for each role. The standard way to do this within the industry is to select candidates based on their Edison Electric Institute (EEI) aptitude test results.
EEI tests, commonly known as ‘battery assessments’, are a group of tests specifically developed by industry experts at the representative body for electric companies, the Edison Electric Institute.
The EEI tests measure the skills and abilities of a candidate to ascertain whether they would perform well in the role. After all, working with electricity carries a significant amount of responsibility.
The EEI aptitude tests look for a mixture of pre-defined skills including technical and mechanical knowledge, as well as industry-related problem-solving competencies.
In addition, the candidate will be expected to have well-rounded general industry knowledge.
As a candidate, you would not be expected to sit all the EEI tests. Your potential employer will ask you to sit the test that relates to the role you have applied for.
What Are the Nine Types of EEI Tests?
The EEI tests are divided into nine different categories:
1. Power Plant Maintenance Positions Selection System (MASS)
If you are a power plant engineer or maintenance worker, you will be asked by your potential employer to take the Power Plant Maintenance Positions Selection System test, otherwise known as MASS.
Typically, this applies if you are a welder, electrician, painter, steelworker or pipe fitter working within the nuclear, fossil fuel or hydroelectric energy industries.
MASS has four components, with which you will need to familiarize yourself to pass the EEI test.
Mathematical usage – This part of the MASS EEI test assesses your basic math knowledge. For example, you could be asked to convert measurements and work out industry-standard calculations. You will have exactly seven minutes to answer 18 multiple-choice questions.
Reading comprehension – You will have 30 minutes to answer 36 multiple-choice questions. The questions are related to five passages of text and assess whether you can understand the technical information found in a power plant guide or manual.
Mechanical concepts – Your test is to correctly answer 44 questions within 20 minutes. You will be presented with images of mechanical situations and will be asked to choose the correct answer to the problem from multiple-choice answers.
Assembling objects – Here, you must answer 20 questions within 15 minutes that will test your ability in working out whether an object has been correctly assembled. For instance, you may be asked to label an object and show that you understand the correct order in which to assemble its parts.
2. Plant Operator Selection System (POSS)
If you are already a plant operator or about to move into an operating role, you will need to complete the POSS test.
This test has five different test batteries.
If you want to know how to pass the EEI test to secure a plant operator role, you will need to familiarize yourself with all five aspects, including:
Mechanical concepts – As with the MASS test (above), the battery test is made up of 44 questions and you have an allocated time of 20 minutes. You will be expected to demonstrate your understanding of line drawings for all major mechanical components and how the application of motion and pressure works.
Reading comprehension – You must answer 36 questions related to five written pieces of text. These follow the same basic principles as the MASS test, although they are tailored to the role of plant operator.
Mathematical usage – This test has two forms – long and short. Which one you take depends on the type of plant-operating role you are applying for. If the role is a plant operator job, your test will be 18 questions and seven minutes long. If you are applying for the more senior position of supervisor, you will be asked to complete 46 questions within 17 minutes.
Figural reasoning – Lasting 10 minutes, you will need to evidence your knowledge on various mechanical parts of a plant in 20 questions on how and why devices are assembled.
3. Construction and Skills Trades (CAST) Test
If you work within the construction field, knowing how to pass the EEI Construction and Skills Trades test (CAST) is essential. It demonstrates that you have the skills and capabilities to work within construction. In particular, it shows you understand mechanical concepts.
It may sound daunting, but the two-hour test is divided into clear battery assessments and is very similar to other standardized exams.
Your overall test score is measured by combining the scores from each test section to create an overall score ranging from 1 (at the lowest end) to 10 (the highest possible score). The better your score, the more appealing you will be as a candidate.
The CAST test is made up of four sections, including:
Graphic arithmetic – You will be expected to solve 16 arithmetic problems within 30 minutes, using drawings and other visuals.
Mechanical concepts – You will answer 44 questions in 20 minutes to identify your exact knowledge of applied mechanics in construction.
Reading comprehension – You will be given passages of text to read from a typical mechanical site manual, and will be asked 32 questions to determine how you interpret written instructions.
Mathematics – This is a fast-paced part of the CAST test, so try not to labor too much on each question as you will have just seven minutes to answer 18 questions. The EEI test is looking for how quickly you can accurately work out basic numerical calculations.
4. Systems Operator/Power Dispatching Systems Selection System (SO/PD)
The SO/PD test is a pre-employment aptitude EEI test for those looking to start a new position as an energy-systems operator or power controller.
The test has been used since the 1980s although it has undergone several updates to accommodate for new technologies and regulatory changes.
It comprises four battery assessments, including:
Analytical thinking skills – The 45-minute test is made up of 23 questions across three sections: argument, problem-solving and logical reasoning. All include written passages of text where you must draw a conclusion based on the information presented to you.
Multitasking simulation – Within this test, you must complete four separate tasks on memorizing alphanumeric codes, basic math skills, gauging reading and listening to differently pitched noises.
Reading comprehension – You are presented with several passages of text from a standard systems operation manual. You will be expected to show an accurate understanding of instructions by answering 22 questions in 26 minutes.
Mathematical usage – This section of the test involves answering 23 power-plant-related mathematical questions in 45 minutes.
5. Technical Occupations Selection System (TECH)
The TECH EEI test is designed to assess the skills and suitability of technical graduates who are looking to pursue a career within the energy sector.
Graduates majoring in chemistry, mathematical engineering and mechanical engineering most commonly take the TECH test before securing a position at an energy company.
The test is much shorter than the other assessments, lasting just an hour. A lot of the questions are similar to those found in final college assessments.
There are four battery assessments in total, including:
Reasoning from rules – This test specifically measures your ability to interpret and apply rules to overcome problems on a logic network. Your responses are expected to be quick and you have a minute for each of the nine questions.
Graphic problem solving – Something that most technical graduates will already be familiar with, you will answer 21 questions in 19 minutes solving practical arithmetic problems presented as visuals.
Interpreting diagrams – You will answer nine questions in nine minutes, evidencing your ability to use symbols and codes to identify objects on diagrams.
Mechanical concepts – Each of the 44 questions in 20 minutes contain a visual illustration of a mechanical situation. Your job is to select the correct description out of three possible answers in each scenario.
6. Meter Reading Aptitude Battery (MRAB)
If you are applying for a meter-reading job within the energy sector, you will need to know how to pass the MRAB test.
The test is quite short, lasting just 20 minutes and is split into two assessments:
Using tables – You have six minutes to answer 85 questions, so speed is of the essence. You will be assessed on your ability to quickly and accurately recall numbers from a table.
Coding – Again, this is a quick-fire test. You will be given five minutes to answer four questions related to 18 data sets.
7. Support and Administrative Selection System (SASS)
The SASS EEI test is used to assess the suitability of a candidate for a wide range of administrative-based jobs in the energy world.
If you are applying for a role as a receptionist, secretary, admin manager, PA or even a senior office role such as a business performance analyst, you may be asked to complete the SASS.
You will be invited to take the following battery tests:
Basic Keyboard Skills Battery (BKSB) – This tests your ability to type quickly and fluently. You have seven minutes to prepare copy and 23 minutes to enter data across three forms.
Basic Competency Assessment Battery (BCAB) – Within this test, you will have eight minutes to spot 50 spelling and grammar mistakes. You will also be tested on basic math skills and your understanding of filing.
There are additional competencies that are also measured including word processing, spreadsheet work and customer simulation.
As a collective, all the SASS batteries are known as the Advanced Competency Assessment Batteries (ACAB).
8. Customer Service Representative Test Battery (CSR)
The CSR EEI test is used by energy employers to select the best customer service representatives.
If you are interested in a role in an energy giant’s call center, you will need to understand how to pass this EEI test.
The CSR EEI test has two batteries to measure the hard and soft skills of an applicant:
Basic workstation test – A software program assesses the rate and accuracy at which you input data into a typical system.
Customer order – This test assesses your softer customer-service skills. Again, using a software program, you are assessed on how well you respond to a customer, especially when they are experiencing a challenging situation such as a blackout.
9. Career Assessment and Diagnostic Instrument (CADI)
The CADI is as grand as the name suggests. Essentially, the test involves a 360-degree analysis of an individual’s ability to occupy a senior role within the business.
It is an in-depth profiling test designed to take a deep dive into your ability to do the job in question and to lead and motivate others.
If you want to know how to pass this EEI test, it is worth keeping in mind what employers want.
What employers are looking for is conclusive proof that you are the perfect candidate for the role – not just now, but in the future.
The CADI EEI test usually lasts an hour and consists of a series of tests including problem-solving, mechanical concepts, reasoning from rules and interpreting diagrams.
Which Companies Use EEI Testing?
There is a whole host of companies within the fossil fuel, nuclear and hydroelectric energy industry that rely on the EEI for candidate selection.
The EEI tests are only really used in the energy sector and for specific construction roles linked to the industry. All US investor-owned electric companies are represented by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and therefore adhere to EEI testing as standard practice.
Therefore, if you are looking for a job within an energy company, you will almost certainly have to pass at least one of the nine EEI tests.
What to Expect From the EEI Test
To understand how to pass the EEI test, it is useful to know what will be expected of you on the day of your test.
The EEI test does not only assess your existing knowledge and skills. It also tests your ability to respond to questions under pressure within challenging timeframes.
You may not be used to doing this in your day-to-day job, so try running through some sample questions on the Edison Electric Institute website.
These questions will give you an idea of what to expect but do keep in mind that the time pressures of the real EEI test will change the dynamics of the assessment.
If you are applying for a role at one of the larger energy companies, you are likely to discover practice tests on their websites.
For example, you can find sample CAST, TECH and SO/PD EEI tests on CenterPoint Energy’s website.
Some EEI tests are relatively obvious in terms of what to expect. However, it is useful to learn a bit more about the core tests that feature within a few of the batteries.
EEI Spatial Reasoning Test
It is an important test because it gives the employer a good indication of your engineering knowledge. After all, engineers need to be able to visualize what they are going to ‘engineer’ before starting a project.
You might, for example, be shown a shape and be asked to choose the correct corresponding shape from multiple-choice answers. You could also be asked to identify errors in a drawing.
EEI Reading Comprehension Test
In a Reading Comprehension EEI test, employers are looking at how accurately and quickly you can interpret a piece of text (usually five passages).
These extracts are taken from sample energy-company manuals. It could be text from any power plant training and safety manuals.
The important thing to remember with this assessment is not to make any assumptions – you must extract the answer only from the text in front of you.
Each passage will consist of several paragraphs. It is your job to select the correct answer from a choice of four statements.
You can prepare yourself for the test in several ways. You can visit the EEI website, where there are example questions related to a passage of text. You may also decide to purchase a test preparation study guide, of which there are quite a few to choose from for each of the main test batteries.
Mathematical Basics, also referred to as Mathematical Usage, measures your ability to solve mechanical mathematical problems.
You will usually be provided with a long list of measurements on the left-hand side of the screen or paper. You will then need to answer a series of questions in quick succession converting those measurements to solve the math problem.
For instance, you might be asked to convert yards to inches, slugs to grams, acres to square chains, and kilometers to meters.
How to Get a Good EEI Score
There are several practical things you can do to prepare yourself for the EEI test:
Do your research – Know which tests you will be required to pass for a role. That way, your preparation will not go to waste.
Practice – This sounds like an obvious one, but practice makes perfect. You should test yourself by answering the questions under pressure. Set aside the corresponding amount of time to complete a selection of practice tests in a single sitting and use a stopwatch to time yourself.
Visit the EEI website and other resources – There's lots of information on the EEI website and in other places, including practice tests. Don’t forget to visit the employer’s website. They may well have some tests for you to practice on.
Ask other people you know who have taken the EEI test – What did they find challenging? How did they prepare and what tips would they give?
Sharpen your skills in one or two areas – Some people find just one or two of the batteries tricky to master. If this is the case, you may decide to have an hour or two of coaching from an expert in that area.
Most importantly, try to relax. With most of the questions being multiple-choice, it is easy to overthink things. Be confident in your ability and your answers should flow naturally.
If you follow the tips above on how to pass the EEI test and give yourself plenty of time to prepare, you should fly through the assessments.
You may also need to complete the same EEI test again if you change employer since each energy company will ask you to take the test again as part of their selection process.