Six Test-Taking Steps

By Bill Murchison, October 2018

In my classes, when reviewing homework, I find myself giving advice to the class participants about how to solve problems. These tips are not just good for practice exercises; they are good principles to use on tests. Many of them are also applicable in solving problems in the field.

  1. Read the question. Make sure you know what the problem is, and what you are trying to solve. Read the whole question, and read it carefully. When reading the question, also verify the number of answers for the question. The IWCF will frequently have questions that require two or three answers, and if you do not put down all two or three correct answers, you do not get any credit on the question.
  2. Draw a picture. Draw a picture of the problem. Label the picture and try to get as much information as possible on the diagram. Many times the answer or the steps to solve the problem become much clearer with a picture. (When I began working at Murchison Drilling Schools over twenty years ago, Bill Sr., one of the world’s foremost experts on drilling operations, told me to draw a picture of the problem. It was his first recommendation, and it must be said that reading the question and drawing a picture went hand in hand to him.)
  3. Double check your numbers. A student in a recent class wrote down the capacity for 3" drill pipe as 0.00784 instead of 0.00874. As a result, his drill string volume calculation was wrong. Because his drill string volume was wrong, his drill string strokes were also wrong; his time was wrong, his psi/step was wrong, and his pump-down plan was wrong. Furthermore, his total volume, strokes, and time were all also wrong. He missed about five questions because of his mistake in copying this number. Double-check that your numbers are correct before doing any calculations.
  4. Do a material balance check. Over the years I have seen a lot of people make mistakes on kill sheets by leaving out the heavy-weight pipe or calculating the wrong length of drill pipe. It is prudent to add up all the lengths on the drill pipe side and make sure they add up to the measured depth of the well. Similarly, on the annulus side, add up all the lengths and make sure they also add up to the measured depth of the well. Many careless mistakes can be spotted and corrected by doing a material balance check.
  5. Manage your time. The IADC and IWCF have time limits on their examinations. Therefore, do not spend too much time on a difficult question. Write down the question number and move on to the next question. After answering all the questions, go back and answer the skipped questions.
  6. Answer all the questions. Recently, a student made a 68 and failed his IADC exam. In reviewing what he missed, I noticed that he had not answered six questions. If he had answered just one of those correctly, he would have passed his exam. On the online tests given by the IADC and IWCF, they show you at all times how many of the questions that you have answered. Before submitting your test, make sure that you have answered all the questions.