Preparing for the 2016 MTA Conductor Exam
(If you have taken the test and have questions, please visit my other blog So You've Taken the MTA Exam...Now What? for answers to the most frequently asked questions)
The MTA Conductor exam is coming in the next couple of months and everyone is looking for the test book to study. The Library does carry civil service exam books, and you can read a more general post on civil service exams. The copies we own of the only known study guide for the MTA exam, Conductor: Test Preparation Study Guide Questions & Answers (published by the National Learning Corp), are limited and have a waiting list. This means that the odds of you getting the book via the library before the actual test are slim, but you have the option of going on the wait list for it.
If you wish to purchase the book, your best bet is to visit the Civil Service Bookshop. They are located at 38 Lispenard Street, New York NY 10013, (212) 226-9506. You can also purchase it online at Amazon or the Passbook website.
So what are your options if you are unable to get your hands on the book? Plenty. The exam is not typical in the way that you need to study with a special book in order to pass. Here is what it says on the exam notification:
You must achieve a score of at least 70% to pass the test. The multiple-choice test may include questions on: understanding and applying written and verbal instructions relative to the safe and efficient duties of a Conductor; using good judgment and taking proper action in emergencies or stressful situations; relating courteously and informatively to the public; being familiar with the locations of major points of interest in New York City; understanding military time; and other related areas.
So this means you really need to be familiar with a few things: reading comprehension, familiarity with important NYC points of interest and military time! These are all things that you can easily prepare for before heading into the exam and I will share how.
Books on Reading Comprehension
Most exams require the skill of reading comprehension. What is this, you ask? It is the ability to read a statement, process what you have read and understand it. You should then be able to answer questions regarding what you have read. The reason this is an important part of the Conductor exam is that they do not ask questions specific to the job because you have not yet been trained for it. Training takes place after you are called when you make the list of those who have passed. What you will most likely have to answer are questions that will present a situation to you that could happen on the job and then you must decide how to answer questions related to what you read. This is where reading comprehension comes in.
So how does one study reading comprehension? One way is to incorporate reading into your daily life. Whether it is books or newspapers, consistency is the key and both are available to you in all library locations. Can't visit a branch? You can access thousands of books on your computer, smart phone or tablet via our e-book collection. It's as simple as downloading an app. You also can read current newspapers from around the world for free via the PressReader database on your computer or tablet. You are not required to have a library card to view items on site at a branch but if you are interested in any of our remote services mentioned above or borrowing materials, please apply for one here!
The other option for more formally training your mind to read and think critically would be to use books and websites geared towards this topic. For general studying that will help you boost your ability, check out the titles on the following list: Reading Comprehension Books. Here are some highlights below:
Civil Service Reading Comprehension
The General Aptitude and Abilities Series provides functional, intensive test practice and drill in the basic skills and areas common to many civil service, general aptitude or achievement examinations necessary for entrance into schools or occupations. This book prepares you by sharpening the skills and abilities necessary to succeed on this part of your upcoming exam. It provides hundreds of multiple-choice questions to be answered in response to information contained in short and long passages on varying topics and subjects.
Reading Comprehension Success in 20 Minutes a Day
This book enhances your critical reading skills in just twenty short lessons. Learn to dissect a story, find the main idea, and draw conclusions through study of practical exercises. With passages from literature, essays, technical writing, and articles, this handy guide includes lessons with hundreds of exercises in test format to help you acquire or refresh essential reading comprehension skills.
Master the Civil Service Exams
Presents a study guide for preparing for entry-level civil service job tests, along with four practice exams and answers. You can pick and choose which sections would be applicable to this exam. Some helpful chapters are Reading Comprehension as well as Judgment, Communication and Memory.
501 Reading Comprehension Questions
With examples from literature, science, history, business, general interest, etc, this fully updated edition provides a reading comprehension tutorial in an easy to use format. This guide helps readers learn how to quickly: get essential information from a passage; find the main idea; increase comprehension and reading speed; identify chronological order; find meaning in a variety of readings; and draw conclusions.
Web Resources on Reading Comprehension
LearningExpress is a great database the Library offers for studying different topics. It focuses on test preparation materials and interactive practice exams that will help people improve their scores on academic, civil service, military, and professional licensing and certification exams. While they do not have an exam specific to the Conductor, it is another way to practice reading skills. When you visit the site you would want to choose Adult Learning Center (located under All Centers), then move the mouse over Guidance and choose Become a Better Reader. You can also practice some math skills and grammar among other things.
The Civil Service Employees Association has available online a helpful guide that gives some great basic information on preparing for a test. It also provides reading comprehension tips, along with sample statements and questions along with an answer key which provides explanations for the answers as well.
Books on New York City Information
The next thing you will want to go over are the major points of interest in NYC. As a conductor you would be working for the City of New York and therefore likely expected to know about such things from customers and staff alike. There will also will be questions in regards to this on the exam. One way to get this info easily is through a travel guide, they aren't just for tourists. You can find a comprehensive list of what we own here: New York City Travel Guides.
Not for Tourists Guide to New York City 2016
This nifty guide can in fact be read by tourists but it is made with the needs of native New Yorkers in mind. It is a map-based, neighborhood-by-neighborhood dream guide designed to lighten the load of already street-savvy New Yorkers, commuters, business travelers, and yes, tourists too.
DK Eyewitness Travel 2015 New York City
This newly updated travel guide for New York City will lead you straight to the best attractions Manhattan has to offer, from unearthing archeological treasures at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to biking through Central Park to discovering the city's hottest neighborhoods on walking tours. Plus, check out the best of the boroughs with suggested highlights for Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, and upper Manhattan.
Web Resources on New York City Information
NYC Go: Official New York City Guide
NYC & Company is New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization. Their site is the ultimate resource for visitors and residents to find everything they need about what to do and see in New York City. Look under the Must See link to check out information on the City's well known attractions as well as borough and neighborhood info.
Learning Military Time
So MTA expects you to know military time. What is that you ask? Military time is a method of measuring time based on the full twenty four hours of the day rather than two groups of twelve hours. It is used by the military, emergency services (including law enforcement, firefighting), transportation and hospitals among other organizations.
Below is a basic chart that shows how the time translates from a typical clock. Visit www.militarytime.us for more information.
Career Cruising is free with your library card. It is a comprehensive bilingual (English and Spanish) interactive multimedia source which features profiles and information on hundreds of occupations, two- and four-year college and universities, and financial aid, including scholarship opportunities. Search under the term Train Operator for information.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Offered through the United States Department of Labor, the OOH can help you find career information on duties, education and training, pay, and outlook for hundreds of occupations.
NYC Transit Forums
A great source for current and prospective employees. The NYC Transit Forums website is strictly for informational and entertainment purposes. The website is no way connected or affiliated with the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) or any other related transportation agency. It is a useful tool if you want to hear about the experiences of current and past employees, as well as sharing with others who are going through the training process.
MTA Job Applicants Frequently Asked Questions
A list of questions and answers the MTA receives about jobs.
Contact Information for the MTA
MTA Exam Information Center
180 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Information in this post is meant to be a supplement for those who will be taking the upcoming examination. This post is in reference to Conductor Exam #6601 which will be administered in April and May 2016. If you have already taken the exam and want updates, please visit the MTA Information page (which you can access by clicking on this link).