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Preparing for the 2016 MTA Conductor Exam


Four People on Platform - Train Conductor in Cap. Image ID: 5038748

(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

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

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

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.

Vintage Subway poster

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

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.


Travel 2015 New York City

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 for more information.

Additional Resources

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). 

(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)


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Air of Gratitude

Thank you for this article. It spoke to my situation in more ways than one. Keep up the good work!.

You're welcome Nichole! I'm

You're welcome Nichole! I'm glad you found it helpful.

Makeup exam for Conductor, exam 6601

Information very helpful. I am scheduled to take exam, but I just had a baby & don't have a caretaker. Should I notify the department to see if there's another date I can take the conductor exam?

Hello Scarlett! Thank you for

Hello Scarlett! Thank you for viewing the blog, glad you find it useful. You need to contact the MTA exam department, the address is at the bottom of the post. On their page it says you may request a makeup test, one of the acceptable reasons is "A temporary disability, pregnancy-related, or child-birth-related condition preventing you from taking the test.". It does say they require documentation, so if you recently had the baby you can try asking your doctor for a note stating that you are unable to take it right now. Not having a caretaker might not be enough to be excused, it appears that it has to be a medical reason.What they say exactly can be found via the link at the end of the post. Once you get that, mail it in as soon as possible. I suggest following up with the email provided after you send it. Best of luck!!

Makeup exam for conductor, exam 6601

Please send me a makeup exam letter for Conductor exam 6601. Due to the fact that i was late for my exam on Saturday 05./21/2016 At James Madison High School,due to the G train was not running when i got there which had made me Lat for my exam. Please help me. Thank You very much. Yours Truly Dan Washington 131 St.Nicholas Avenue # 7b New York, New York 10026.

Hello Dan, I cannot assist

Hello Dan, I cannot assist you with sending in a letter. You need to use the links provided under Contact Info (specifically the one that says visit the MTA information page) for the Mta if you need help figuring out what is an acceptable excuse for making up the exam. None of those given fits your situation so there is a chance you cannot take a makeup exam. The mailing address and email are also provided, I suggest emailing them if you have a question about what to do. Best of luck.

Conductor exam

This information was very helpful. I feel much better about the exam.

Shay, so happy that this blog

Shay, so happy that this blog has helped you feel more prepared. Good luck on the exam!

Thank you but is there more?

I have obtained the passbook and the information here is useful however I find some of these questions really need a prior knowledge of the position. I can't help but feel like I'm missing a big portion. Where do I find out what lights indicate on trains, or what certain horns sounding mean? Guess and check can only take me so far. Hope to hear from you soon, thank you.

Hi Maya, so I have heard that

Hi Maya, so I have heard that in the Passbook they give questions that are not actually on the exam. Why that is I can't say, perhaps because it is generic and meant for use on more than one test. Notice in the piece I took from the description of the exam it does not mention having to know MTA procedure because there is no way that a person who has never worked for them would know such information.The questions will stem from information provided during testing and will involve you making logical decisions for the scenarios they present. Now this is just my understanding from people who have taken it. If you want more please visit the NYC Transit Forum link under Other Resources and you can find people discussing the exam or even post your own question. Hope this helps and best of luck!

Mta conductor

How long is the exam

Mta conductor

How long is the exam

Test Time

Hi Jane, I do not know how long the exam is. That information is not provided. You can try emailing them at the address listed above and also try visiting the forum listed where people are discussing the test. Someone may have mentioned how long it is. Best of luck!

when is the next test

hello, i check every day twice a day on for a job posting for conductor assistant. which months do they usually post for this position? when is the next test taking place?

Hello Vanessa, I am not aware

Hello Vanessa, I am not aware of any exams for conductor assistant. This exam which the post is referring to is only offered every 4 years. I suggest you continue to check the site to see if they have updated information about exams.

Need assistance please!

Hello, My name is Thor and i would like to know where can i find the answers to the test that i took last month for the Conductor exam No.6601 please. I was suppose to check it out on the 8th of this month. but i wasn't home for a week. I would kindly appreciate the feedback.


Hello Thor, I do not know how you would find answers to the exam you took. From what I have heard they will be releasing that in July. There is a web page that has the answer keys for previous tests, I assume this is the page you will be able to go on for the answers. Copy and past the following web page: I suggest emailing them as well to inquire,

Quick question.. Is there an

Quick question.. Is there an assistant conductor exam and a conductor exam. And if so is there another test at some point? Or did I just miss out on 4 years? Thanks in advance for any help.

I don't believe the MTA has

I don't believe the MTA has an assistant conductor position, only a conductor. The test is typically every 4 years but that can vary. I suggest emailing them for more information, Take care and best of luck!

Selling my book

Hey I was reading your article and I was really helpful to me thank you, but now I have the book an my exam is over do you know how I can sell the book? The civil store doesn't rebut books even in new condition and strand is not interested any suggestions?

Hello Kerry, I'm glad the

Hello Kerry, I'm glad the blog was helpful. If you just want to donate it, then the library can always use more copies. If you want to get money back, you may want to put it for sale on Amazon or Ebay. The thing is, the book is only in demand when an exam comes out so now that it has finished I doubt there will be much interest. Perhaps you may want to hold onto it until the next one comes out and people really need it.

I'm willing to buy your book

I'm willing to buy your book


I got 11 wrong on the test did i pass or fail

Hello Tikisha, I'm sorry but

Hello Tikisha, I'm sorry but I really can't answer that for you. Just percentage wise I would say that depends on how many questions were on the test. 11 would mean you passed most likely but I can't say what your score is. I do know they mention that you need at least 70% to pass but remember they call people in order of the score they got so most likely people who scored 90% and above will be called soonest.

About my cdl permit

"...i can take the test with my cdl permit..."

Hello, you didn't really ask

Hello, you didn't really ask a question. If you are trying to say can you take the test if you have that license, yes you can. You are not required to have a driving license of any kind for this exam.

Candidate List

I just saw the proposed answer key for the Conductor test I took on April 23, 2016 and I got 76 out of 80 questions correct; I'm wondering how long it takes for them to mail you information about the candidate list and potential interview

Hello Timothy,

Hello Timothy, I do not work for the MTA so I cannot tell you information in regards to finding out your place on the eligibility list. According to the MTA information page, a list has not yet been generated. Copy and paste the following link to see where I read this and please visit that same page for updates,

Next exam date

When is the next exam for train conductor exam #6601. Is there another exam in 2016 or is there an upcoming one in 2017?

Visit Link

Hello Jonathan, please visit the link at the top of this post in which I answer questions about the exam. Thanks!

Sign up

Where do I go to sign up for the upcoming MTA transit conductor exam being held in December 2016?

I believe you are referring

I believe you are referring to the upcoming Train Operator exam, very different from conductor.Any information in regards to MTA exams can be found on their exam page. Copy and paste this link:

Thank you for this post.

Thank you for this post. definitely helpful. Will be sure to share it.


Thank you for reading!I'm glad you found it helpful!

The difference between train operator and conductor

Hello just asking what's the difference between train operator and train conductor test.. Thank you..

Hey, thanks for asking. Haven

Hey, thanks for asking. Haven't gotten this one yet. The conductor is the person who usually sits in the middle car of the train, opening and closing doors, making announcements, etc. The train operator is the one actually driving the train and is in charge of all train operations. You can copy and paste the following links to see their descriptions in previous exam notices.

HI I was wondering if you can

HI I was wondering if you can help me out with how to go about getting my results from this test I never got a letter in the mail stating if I passed or failed

Please visit the MTA page for updates

Hello Luis, this is what it says on the MTA information page,"At this time, we do not have an expected month in which this list will be made public or established. Once the list is established, you will receive your official Notice of Results in the mail." Copy and paste the following link to see where I read this and please visit that same page for updates,


Hi can u please let me know went is the next conductor exam thanks

Hi, there is no date for the

Hi, there is no date for the next exam. You would need to check the MTA's career page periodically for any upcoming exams. From what I understand, these tests are usually given every four years but it can be more depending on whether they need more staff and also have funding. Here is the link for the exam announcements page,

military time chart

i always have problems converting military time

Bus Operator

I am currently an NYC taxi driver with a few points on my driving record. I am very interested in changing to bus operator but I am concerned about the points. Does anyone know the policy for points on record? How many are allowed? Any help would be great. Thank you

how can a new person know

how can a new person know what to study for the train operator test ?

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