Exam Guidance

Information on how our RYA online theory exams are conducted and assessed, and how best to prepare for your exams.

RYA Day Skipper theory

Before attempting your exams you must have studied all of the lessons and completed all of the exercises.

Exams are taken online, and then individually marked by an RYA Instructor who will give detailed feedback. 

You can either request all of your exams in one go or individually - 24hrs is generally sufficient notice.

We’ll then send you links to the online exam paper. You can open the links anytime in order to view and download the exam instructions before you begin, however once you start each exam it must be completed in one sitting and within the stated time-limit. 

There are 2 exam papers: General Questions and Chartwork. 
90 minutes is allowed for each paper.

In order to pass you must demonstrate that you have sufficient understanding of the subject, even if your answers do contain some errors.

Exam Conditions

Exams must be taken under “exam conditions”.

The only resources allowed are the RYA Training Almanac and RYA Training Charts 3 & 4. 

You are not allowed to refer to other books (including the course handbook) or to your notes. 

You should ensure that you have a quiet space to sit your exam - make sure that any family, housemates or other crew members know not to disturb you during the exam.

You’ll also need to ensure that you have a stable and reliable internet connection.

If you are taking an exam alongside other students you must not discuss the questions. You must not disclose the questions or your answers, including chartwork, with anybody else. If our instructors suspect collusion they will automatically fail all those that are implicated.

It’s entirely up to you whether you sit one exam at a time or attempt more than one on the same day. However many students find that attempting more than one at a time is tiring and we recommend that you space them out.

You should ensure that you have a firm grasp of fixes, estimated positions, course to steer and tidal heights. Pay special attention to correctly establishing tidal set and drift for any hour using both the tidal atlas and the tidal diamon tables on the charts.  Double check lat and long positions, tidal dates and heights, etc - using the wrong data is a common error.  Because knowledge of the Collision Regulations is so important you should swat up on these immediately before your exam.

At then end of your exam you will be asked to scan or photograph your chartwork and workings and to attach them to your submission. Extra time is allowed for this but you must have access to a scanner or digital camera. A smartphone camera will suffice.

If you pass we’ll ask you to complete our Customer Satisfaction Survey (which we need for the RYA) and to confirm the postal address you wish us to send your certificate to. Once we have this, we’ll send your certificate to you by First Class post or by Airmail as appropriate. We’ll also email you a scanned copy.

If you are a marginal failure we will ask you to conduct additional study in the relevant areas before setting you one or more additional questions and, if you answer these correctly under exam conditions, you’ll be deemed to have passed.

If you fail to get close to the required standard in one or more papers, we’ll give you detailed feedback and ask you to undertake a period of additional study and to answer some relevant practice questions before taking another paper, again under exam conditions. 

For the majority of our students these exams do not require invigilation.

You do not need to have your exams invigilated in order to:

  • Skipper vessels of up to 200 registered tonnes for leisure purposes.
  • Charter vessels worldwide.
  • Be granted an International Certificate of Competence (ICC).

Invigilation is only required if you wish to:

Obtain a Commercial Endorsement to a Day Skipper Certificare of Competence.

A Commercial Endorsement to a Day Skipper Certificate of Competence enables you to skipper a small commercial vessel (complying with the UK/MCA code of practice, carrying fare paying passengers). If your Day Skipper shorebased exam is invigilated by an RYA Instructor you can operate up to 12 miles from the vessel’s home port. Otherwise (if your exam is not invigilated by an RYA Instructor) you are limited to 3 miles from the vessel’s home port.

It can be any RYA Instructor (not just a Cruising Instructor or Yachtmaster Instructor). If you know a RYA Instructor, you can arrange your own invigilation or we can make the arrangements for you however a charge will be made. 

Your invigilator makes an online declaration that they have supervised you taking your exam and that to their knowledge you did not view the exam questions prior to the exam and have not used any reference materials, referred to your notes or sought outside assistance during the exam.

RYA Yachtmaster theory

Before attempting your exams you must have studied all of the lessons and completed all of the exercises.

Exams are taken online, and then individually marked by an RYA Instructor who will give detailed feedback. 

You can either request all of your exams in one go or individually - 24hrs is generally sufficient notice.

We’ll then send you links to the online exam papers. You can open the links anytime in order to view and download the exam instructions before you begin, however once you start each exam it must be completed in one sitting and within the stated time-limit. 

There are 4 exams:

  1. Chartwork (2hrs) - You will be required to demonstrate that you have a reasonable grasp of the topic.
  2. IRPCS (90 mims) - pass mark 60%.
  3. Passage Making Part A (90mins) - pass mark 60%.
  4. Passage Making Part B (2hrs) - pass mark 60%.

The Passage Making exams draw on the entire syllabus. Therefore you must pass the IRPCS and Chartwork exams BEFORE taking the Passage Making exams.

Exam Conditions

Exams must be taken under “exam conditions”.

The only resources allowed are the RYA Training Almanac and RYA Training Charts 3 & 4. 

You are not allowed to refer to other books (including the course handbook) or to your notes. 

You should ensure that you have a quiet space to sit your exam - make sure that any family, housemates or other crew members know not to disturb you during the exam.

You’ll also need to ensure that you have a stable and reliable internet connection.

If you are taking an exam alongside other students you must not discuss the questions. You must not disclose the questions or your answers, including chartwork, with anybody else. If our instructors suspect collusion they will automatically fail all those that are implicated.

It’s entirely up to you whether you sit one exam at a time or attempt more than one on the same day. However many students find that attempting more than one at a time is tiring and we recommend that you space them out.

You should ensure that you have a firm grasp of fixes, estimated positions, course to steer and tidal heights. Pay special attention to correctly establishing tidal set and drift for any hour using both the tidal atlas and the tidal diamon tables on the charts.  Double check lat and long positions, tidal dates and heights, etc - using the wrong data is a common error.  Because knowledge of the Collision Regulations is so important you should swat up on these immediately before your exam.

At then end of your exam you will be asked to scan or photograph your chartwork and workings and to attach them to your submission. Extra time is allowed for this but you must have access to a scanner or digital camera. A smartphone camera will suffice.

If you pass we’ll ask you to complete our Customer Satisfaction Survey (which we need for the RYA) and to confirm the postal address you wish us to send your certificate to. Once we have this, we’ll email it out First Class or by Airmail as appropriate. We’ll also send you a scanned copy.

If you are a marginal failure we will ask you to conduct additional study in the relevant areas before setting you one or more additional questions and, if you answer these correctly under exam conditions, you’ll be deemed to have passed.

If you fail to get close to the required standard in one or more papers, we'll give you detailed feedback and ask you to undertake a period of additional study and to answer some relevant practice questions before taking another paper, again under exam conditions. 

For the majority of our students these exams do not require invigilation.

Invigilation is not required to:

  • Skipper vessels up to 200 registered tonnes.
  • Attain a Commercial Endorsement to a Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore Certificate of Competence.
  • Qualify as an RYA Cruising Instructor or Yachtmaster Instructor.

Invigilation is only required if you wish to:

Use the Yachmaster Shorebased Course Completion Certificate as entry into MCA large yacht qualifications such as OOW 3000 or Master 200 certification route.

For the MCA to accept your RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Shorebased qualification as collateral for MCA large yacht qualifications your exams must be invigilated by an RYA Instructor. It can be any RYA Instructor (not just a Cruising Instructor or Yachtmaster Instructor). If you know a RYA Instructor, you can arrange your own invigilation or we can make the arrangements for you - however a charge will be made. 

Your invigilator makes an online declaration that they have supervised you taking your exam and that to their knowledge you did not view the exam questions prior to the exam and have not used any reference materials, referred to your notes or sought outside assistance during the exam.

RYA Yachtmaster Ocean theory

Before attempting your exams you must have studied all of the lessons and completed all of the exercises.

Exams are taken online. They are individually marked by a RYA Instructor who will give detailed feedback. 

There is one exam - for which 2 hours is allocated.

24hrs is generally sufficient notice. We’ll then send you links to the online ecxam paper. You can open the link anytime in order to view and download the exam instructions before you begin however once you start the exam it must be completed in one sitting and within the stated time-limit. 

Exam Conditions

Exams must be taken under “exam conditions”. The only resources allowed is the Almanc & Sight Reduction Tables

You are not allowed to refer to other books (including the course handbook) or to your notes. 

You should ensure that you have a quiet space to sit your exam - make sure that any family, housemates or other crew members know not to disturb you during the exam.

You’ll also need to ensure that you have a stable and reliable internet connection.

If you are taking an exam alongside other students you must not discuss the questions. You must not disclose the questions or your answers, including chartwork, with anybody else. If our instructors suspect collusion they will automatically fail all those that are implicated.

At then end of your exam you will be asked to scan or photograph your chartwork and workings and to attach them to your submission. Extra time is allowed for this but you must have access to a scanner or digital camera. A smartphone camera will suffice.

If you pass we’ll ask you to complete our Customer Satisfaction Survey (which we need for the RYA) and to confirm the postal address you wish us to send your certificate to. Once we have this, we’ll send your certificate to you by First Class post or by Airmail as appropriate. We’ll also email you a scanned copy.

If you are a marginal failure we will ask you to conduct additional study in the relevant areas before setting you one or more additional questions and, if you answer these correctly under exam conditions, you’ll be deemed to have passed.

If you fail to get close to the required standard in one or more papers, we'll give you detailed feedback and ask you to undertake a period of additional study and to answer some relevant practice questions before taking another paper, again under exam conditions. 

Invigilation is not required if you are taking the course for your own personal interest and simply intend to use the knowledge gained for leisure sailing.

Invigilation by an RYA Instructor is required if you intend to use this course as a pre-requisite for the RYA/MCA Ocean Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence Exam, or MCA Master 200 (unlimited) Certificate of Competence.

It can be any RYA Instructor (not just a Cruising Instructor or Yachtmaster Instructor). If you know an RYA Instructor, you can arrange your own invigilation or we can make the arrangements for you - however a small charge will be made. 

Your invigilator makes an online declaration that they have supervised you taking your exam and that to their knowledge you did not view the exam questions prior to the exam and have not used any reference materials, referred to your notes or sought outside assistance during the exam.

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