Writing the Red Seal Exam
What to bring to the exam?
- Photo ID (government-issued personal identification, such as a valid driver’s license)
- Apprenticeship I.D. from your jurisdiction (if applicable)
- Exam confirmation letter
- Any other materials listed in your exam confirmation letter
Who can write the Red Seal Exam?
Each province and territory decides who can write the Red Seal Exam.
You have to be experienced in the full scope of the trade. You might have done a formal apprenticeship program. Or you might have worked in the trade without doing an apprenticeship in Canada.
Preparing Yourself to Write the Red Seal Exam
1. Take care of the administrative tasks that you need to do
- Proof of apprenticeship completion or trade experience.
- Payment of fees.
- Know what you need to bring (e.g. photo ID, proof of apprenticeship, etc.)
- Request accommodations you need, such as for a learning disability.
- Confirm the language (English/French) of the exam you will take.
- Check your apprenticeship authority’s website for more details.
2. Familiarize yourself with what the exam is going to be testing
Every single exam question is linked to a Sub-task that is in the Red Seal Standard.
To get a better explanation of what each Sub-task is about, look it up in Red Seal Standard for the trade. This document can be found on the Red Seal website. It gives much more detail about the skills and knowledge you need for each Sub-task.
Look at the Red Seal Exam Breakdown for your trade to see how many questions there are for each section of the exam.
Ask yourself how experienced and familiar you are with the activities described in each Sub-task.
Are there any Tasks and Sub-tasks that you think you lack experience in? Are there many questions about them? What can you do to improve in these areas?
3. Prepare your own study plan
Look for ways to learn more about these Tasks and Sub-tasks, especially the ones that you don’t know very well. Check with your trade instructor about resources or reading you could do. Ask instructors for recommendations about resources like manuals and textbooks.
Remember that Red Seal Exams are work-based, not textbook-based, but reviewing these types of resources can’t hurt.
Talk to your fellow workers in the trade about good learning resources and learn from one another.
Look at the Sample Questions on the Red Seal website to get a good understanding of the format of Red Seal Exam questions.
Use the Internet to find explanations of concepts that you are unsure about. Not all sites or sources are reliable. Try to use reputable sources like manufacturers’ instructional videos, training providers’ materials or instructional videos. Check in with qualified tradespeople and employers to see if these online resources and videos are true to the Canadian workplace.
If anyone tries to give you or sell you copies of the actual Red Seal Exam or its questions, do not trust this claim. Report fraud to your apprenticeship authority.
Most importantly, try to gain experience in these activities. The exam is all about showing that you know how to work in the trade. The best way to learn these tasks is by doing them! After all, that’s what apprenticeship is all about. Ask your employer or mentor about getting more practice and experience in the areas where you might need them.
Red Seal Exam Format
Every question has exactly one correct answer and three incorrect options. They are not misleading or trick questions, but the incorrect options are not always obvious. Only someone who is skilled and experienced should be able to pick the correct answer from all the options.
Some questions are used to check your knowledge of facts related to doing a Sub-task.
Some questions test your knowledge of procedures and might include calculations or interpretations of diagrams.
Some questions are used to check problem-solving skills related to your trade.
What happens after you take the Red Seal exam?
Red Seal exam results
- Your provincial or territorial apprenticeship and certification office will send you your exam results. This can take up to four weeks. Refer to your exam confirmation letter for more information.
- Results are not released over the phone.
Receiving your Red Seal
- If you are completing your provincial or territorial certification at the same time as your Red Seal exam, the Red Seal may be affixed to your provincial or territorial certificate.
- If you already have a provincial certificate and you want to have the Red Seal affixed to your card, you may need to send your current card to your provincial and territorial apprenticeship office. Refer to your exam confirmation letter for more information.
What if you do not pass your exam?
- The Red Seal is the standard of excellence in your trade. As such, Red Seal exams are designed to test the national scope of the trade. If you have less experience in some of the tasks and sub-tasks, you may not pass on your first attempt.
- If you do not achieve the 70% pass mark, the number of times you can attempt the exam and the waiting period between attempts are determined by each province and territory. A course of study, approved by the jurisdictional certification authority, must be successfully completed before the third and every subsequent attempt. Contact your local apprenticeship and certification office for clarification.