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The Construction and Skilled Trade Selection System examination (CAST) is maintained by the Edison Electric Institute, a trade organization founded in 1933 which represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies.[1] The EEI maintains several different test batteries which focus on skill areas related to energy industry jobs. The CAST focuses on skills relevant to positions in transmission and distribution, facilities and repair, electrical repair, machining and vehicle repair, and meter service and repair. These skills include graphic arithmetic, mathematical usage, mechanical concepts, and reading comprehension.[2]

Function of the Test

CAST Study Guide

The CAST is administered as an employment test by individual utility companies. It is not administered directly by its creator, EEI.[3] Utility companies use the examination to measure job applicants' aptitude in skill areas relevant to skilled trade positions.[4] Because the CAST is administered by individual utility companies, the EEI does not report the number of people who take the examination each year or how well these test takers perform. However, the EEI represents hundreds of companies and organizations across the United States which together employ more than 500,000 people, so the CAST is likely taken by several thousand job applicants per year.[1]

Test Administration

CAST Flashcards

The CAST has four sections: Graphic Arithmetic,[5] Mathematical Usage,[6] Mechanical Concepts,[7] and Reading for Comprehension.[8]

The CAST is administered by individual utility companies as part of each company's job application process.[3] As such, the conditions and regulations for the examination vary widely. Some standard policies exist, however. EEI states that test takers must bring photo identification to any EEI employment examination. Furthermore, test takers are not allowed to bring a calculator or dictionary; all materials required to take the test are provided by the test administrator.[9]

Other test regulations vary from company to company. For example, Southern Company states that job applicants may retake the examinaton every 45 days if invitated to do so,[10] while Duke Energy specifies a 90-day waiting period before a retest.[11] Job applicants should contact their prospective employers directly to inquire about test dates and locations, retesting policies, and possible fees related to taking the CAST.

There are no standardized accommodations for test takers with special needs, but most companies which offer the CAST state that they will provide appropriate accommodations upon request. For example, CenterPoint Energy states that "[i]n accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if you have a disability that you feel may require special arrangements to take a test, please let us know at the time you are invited to a test session."[12]

Test Format

Distribution of questions on the CAST exam[5][6][7][8]
Section Length Time
Graphic Arithmetic 16 questions 30 minutes
Mathematical Usage 18 questions 7 minutes
Mechanical Concepts 44 questions 20 minutes
Reading for
3 reading passages
+ 32 questions
30 minutes
Total 110 questions 87 minutes

Test Environment

EEI doesn't administer tests, so the test environment may vary depending on where candidates are applying. The tests will be administered by the company that the candidate is applying at.[13]

Test Structure

The Construction and Skilled Trades Exam usually lasts about two hours, and consists of four different batteries. The exam's four parts include Graphic Arithmetic, Mechanical Concepts, Reading for Comprehension, and Mathematical Usage. Test takers will take this test with paper and pencil, however it is available to be scored either by machine or by hand.[14]

Test Content

  • Sample Mechanical Concepts Questions:
  1. In which direction (A or B) will gear 5 spin if gear 1 is spinning counter-clockwise? (If both, mark C)


  1. Which car (A or B) will travel a greater distance on the given track? (If equal, mark C)


  • Sample Graphic Arithmetic Questions:
Questions 1-2 pertain to the following figure:

CAST Blueprint PTQ.PNG

  1. What is the distance (“A”) from the left edge of the property to the break room?
    A. 47’
    B. 67’
    C. 70’
    D. 19’
    E. N
  2. What is the distance (“B”) from the top edge of the property to the conference room?
    A. 57’
    B. 22’
    C. 27’
    D. 59’
    E. N
  • Sample Mathematical Usage Questions:
Use the following information to answer questions 1-2:
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
1 mile = 1.609 kilometers
  1. 6 kilograms = ? pounds
    A. 2.205
    B. 6,000
    C. 15.24
    D. 13.23
  2. 2 miles = ? kilometers
    A. 1.609
    B. 3.218
    C. 1.243
    D. 2.486
  • Sample Reading Comprehension Questions:
Numbers 1 and 2 pertain to the following passage:
Comets are bodies that orbit the sun. They are distinguishable from asteroids by the presence of coma or tails. In the outer solar system, comets remain frozen and are so small that they are difficult to detect from Earth. As a comet approaches the inner solar system, solar radiation causes the materials within the comet to vaporize and trail off the nuclei. The released dust and gas forms a fuzzy atmosphere called the coma, and the force exerted on the coma causes a tail to form, pointing away from the sun.
Comet nuclei are made of ice, dust, rock and frozen gases and vary widely in size: from 100 meters or so to tens of kilometers across. The comas may be even larger than the Sun. Because of their low mass, they do not become spherical and have irregular shapes.
Many comets and asteroids have collided into Earth. Some scientists believe that comets hitting Earth about 4 billion years ago brought a significant proportion of the water in Earth’s oceans. There are still many near-Earth comets.
  1. What does the passage not list as a component of comet nuclei?
    A. solar radiation
    B. dust
    C. frozen gases
    D. rock
  2. According to the passage, what do some scientists believe brought a significant proportion of the water in the Earth’s oceans?
    A. Comets’ released gas and dust
    B. Comets exiting in the solar system
    C. Comet collisions with the Sun
    D. Comet collisions with Earth

More free CAST help.


Depending on the preference of the company administering the test, the CAST may be scored by hand or by machine. Candidates' results on the four sections of the CAST are combined into a single Index Score which is reported on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. This Index Score is used to predict a candidate's probability of succeeding in a given position.[2]

EEI does not clearly report whether there is a penalty for guessing on the CAST. However, they suggest that test takers make educated guesses on difficult multiple choice questions,[9] which implies that guessing is not penalized. EEI also does not report exactly how the Index Score is calculated, so it is not clear whether one section may be weighted more heavily than any other.

Because the CAST is an employment exam designed to measure candidates' aptitude for a wide range of jobs, there is no single "passing score." Individual companies are free to set their own score cutoffs for a given position, and due to the competitive nature of the job application process, successful performance on the CAST does not guarantee employment.[2]

Answers to Sample Questions

Mechanical Concepts 1:A; 2:C; Graphic Arithmetic 1:C; 2:B; Mathematical Usage 1:D; 2:B; Reading Comprehension 1:A; 2:D;


  1. ^ a b About EEI. March 20 2014
  2. ^ a b c Construction And Skilled Trades Selection System Online Brochure. March 20 2014
  3. ^ a b EEI's Employment Test Batteries. March 20 2014
  4. ^ Industry Employment Testing. March 20 2014
  5. ^ a b Construction and Skilled Trades: Graphic Arithmetic. (Click "Graphic Arithmetic" in sidebar.) March 20 2014
  6. ^ a b Construction and Skilled Trades: Mathematical Usage. (Click "Mathematical Usage" in sidebar.) March 20 2014
  7. ^ a b Construction and Skilled Trades: Mechanical Concepts. (Click "Mechanical Concepts" in sidebar.) March 20 2014
  8. ^ a b Construction and Skilled Trades: Reading for Comprehension. (Click "Reading for Comprehension" in sidebar.) March 20 2014
  9. ^ a b Test-Taking Tips. March 20 2014
  10. ^ Southern Company Employment Testing. March 20 2014
  11. ^ Duke Energy Employment Tests. March 20 2014
  12. ^ Center Point Energy: EEI Testing. March 20 2014
  13. ^ EEI Tests 19 June 2014
  14. ^ CAST Content 19 June 2014