IMCA life support technician examination – recommended study material

IMCA is frequently asked for a study guide to help Assistant Life Support Technicians (ALST) candidates prepare for the IMCA Life Support Technician (LST) certification examination.

As part of the recent revision of the IMCA exam system, all IMCA Supervisor and LST exams are now generated from a question bank, ensuring that no two exams are the same.  In addition, the exam is now delivered electronically at a nominated exam centre with candidates only viewing one exam question at time.  It would therefore be advantageous for anyone planning to sit the LST exam to be comfortable with taking online tests and using online calculators.  Where practicable, it would be useful for LST candidates to practice taking online quizzes/tests and using online calculators before sitting the IMCA examination.

The Exam

The current exam is made up of three sections:

  1. Diving Physics; 20 Questions
  2. Diving Physiology; 20 Questions
  3. Chamber and LST Practices; 40 questions

The IMCA LST exam is primarily based around the content of the material contained in IMCA’s guidance documents together with the experience gained during the practical phase of an LST’s development.  Guidance for diving supervisors (IMCA D 022) is a core text and should be used as the basis for preparation.  It is essential that Life Support Technician exam candidates are familiar with all the relevant material this document contains.

Chapter 2 Diving Physics is of particular importance.  It contains a series of self-test physics questions. Candidates should be confident answering each of the relevant questions. Failure to do so means it is unlikely that candidates will pass the physics section of the final exam.

Study Guide

In preparation for the exams, candidates are required to have a thorough knowledge of the relevant IMCA documentation. The core documents which all candidates are required to be thoroughly familiar with are the latest revisions of:

Other Relevant Information

All published IMCA videos are available to stream online and it would be helpful for LST candidates to review all relevant IMCA videos as part of their preparation for the IMCA examination.  A link to the IMCA videos is shown below:

https://www.youtube.com/user/IMCAint/videos

Candidates should also be familiar with the latest revision of the US Navy Diving Manual, Volume 3, Section 13 Saturation Diving together with the use of Saturation Decompression Tables and Emergency Decompression.

The US Navy Manual is available as a free download from:

https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/SUPSALV/Diving/US%20DIVING%20MANUAL_REV7.pdf?ver=2017-01-11-102354-39

Legislation

Candidates who wish to sit the optional legislation modules should be familiar with the following:

  • UK legislation – Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR 2013) (see INDG 453 https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg453.pdf)
  • HSE Commercial Diving Projects Offshore Approved Code of Practice L103

(https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l103.htm)

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974: Sections 2-9

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37/pdfs/ukpga_19740037_en.pdf

These are available to download for free at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l103.htm.  

  • Norwegian legislation – NORSOK U – 100 Manned Underwater Operations available to purchase

https://www.standard.no/en/sectors/energi-og-klima/petroleum/norsok-standard-categories/u-underwater-op/u-1002/

Preparation

In preparation for the exam it is recommended that candidates who wish to achieve IMCA LST certification should start a programme of disciplined self-study long before they apply to sit the exam.

This is to ensure that they have the best chance of passing the exam at the first attempt, but it is also to ensure that every candidate has a thorough understanding of all the documents and procedures that this safety critical position demands.  In addition, consideration should be given to undertaking a review session in the run-up to the exam at one of the IMCA approved training establishments offering the ALST training programme.  A list of establishments currently offering IMCA-approved ALST training is available on IMCA’s website at:

https://www.imca-int.com/divisions/diving/personnel/life-support-lst/courses/

ALST candidates who do not prepare adequately will find the exam a challenge to pass, in particularly the physics and diving operations sections.

Sample questions indicative of the type of questions contained within the IMCA LST exam are contained in Appendix 1 of this Information Note.

The time allowed to sit the LST and legislation exams are:

  • IMCA Life Support Technician – 2 hours
  • Legislation Modules UK/NOR – 30 minutes each

Candidates who do not speak English as a first language or who are not familiar with online examinations and calculators should ensure they are adequately prepared before sitting the exam.  In addition, an allowance has been made within the exam timings for candidates working in a second language.