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5 Tips for passing SMSTS

The SMSTS Certificate is a must if you want to work in construction, there are 12 focus areas and here are 5 SMSTS tips to help you digest what is needed and pass the exam.

How to effectively prepare for passing the SMSTS exam

SMSTS is a demanding exam, but you can make things so much easier for yourself if you have a good preparation plan. Past SMSTS exam questions are not available and course providers are forbidden from sharing them under the Site Safety Plus Scheme Rules set by the Construction Industry Training Board. Whether you are covering the cost yourself or getting sponsorship, you will understandably want to get the most out of your SMSTS training.

#1 - Make lots of notes during the course

If you don't have good notes to build on, it'll be much harder to revise.

  • Use a highlighter pen to mark important passages within the text
  • Use paperclips or sticky notes as bookmarks to make the information easier to find
  • Ensure you capture the main points and consider using abbreviations or your own “code”

However, don’t try to write too much or you won’t have time to listen properly and understand what is being said.

#2 - Ask questions

Actively listening, engaging and participating means you are creating memory anchors and as a result you will naturally remember more.

  • Make a list of questions from the previous days notes from the course, so you can get clarity before the next days learning
  • Be prepared to ask questions about anything you didn’t understand first time around
  • There's no such thing as a stupid question

Don’t hang back - discuss what you have been taught. Engage in conversation with the other participants and don’t be afraid to exchange ideas and questions.

#3 - Find your learning style

Gaining a good knowledge of a topic involves finding your preferred learning style and developing activities for that style.

  • Visual Learners - prefer charts and graphics
  • Auditory Learners - like to recite information out loud
  • Reading/writing Learners - learn best from text and notes
  • Kinaesthetic Learners – ‘hands on doing’ works best here

It’s important to find what works best for you, and most likely to be a mix of the four styles with a strong bias, rather than one style.

#4 - Do your homework, stay on top of the learning

SMSTS can be an expensive piece of paper to get, for that reason, you probably want to make sure that you pass the course first time!

  • Do not underestimate the difficulty level of the test
  • Be dedicated from day one to study hard and stay on top of the work allocated
  • Use all the help that you can get from the people that are willing to help

Here are the 12 focus areas of SMSTS:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act
  • Risk Assessments/Method Statements
  • Occupational Health Management
  • Behavioural Safety
  • CDM (Construction Design and Management) Regulations
  • Recent changes in accepted working practices
  • Confined Spaces
  • Scaffolding
  • Electricity
  • Demolition
  • Working at Height
  • Excavations

Twelve different subjects (from health and safety to excavations) will be covered in the course so you will have to be prepared to learn about 2 or 3 of them every day.

#5 - Keep Calm, Get Rest and Eat Well

The night before each of your 5 day course make sure you get to bed early and sober. There is simply too much information to learn and the only way to achieve your goal is through proper resting and good concentration.

  • When revising, don’t let yourself get too stressed, take a 5 minute break if you feel stressed
  • Leaving plenty of time for revision is the best way to stay calm, so little and often is the key
  • Don’t try to cram everything, create a structure for your revision so you build up knowledge

And the night before the exam...

Allow yourself time to relax, eat properly and sleep. You will function better in the exam if you’re not tired, hungry and grumpy. As long as you had paid close attention during the 5-day teaching period, a 3-4 hour revision covering the main points before the exam will be enough for you to pass.

SMSTS gives a great understanding of the numerous legal obligations of a job in construction

The SMSTS certification is an excellent way to increase safety and environmental awareness on site. Passing the Site Management Safety Training Scheme exam is a matter of being prepared - hopefully by taking these 5 tips on board you can get the most from your course and prepare well.


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