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If I were preparing for the GCC Factories Plant Engineering Exam in 2024, I would do this...


The GCC Factories Plant Engineering Exam is challenging for aspiring Certificated Engineers, characterized by its extensive content and the addition of new, complex questions.

The pass mark of 4% in June 2022 has heightened anxiety among students, necessitating a comprehensive and strategic approach to preparation.

I will explore key components and strategies in this detailed guide, providing a roadmap for success in the GCC Factories Plant Engineering Exam of 2024.

In short, here are the top ten considerations to pass the 2024 GCC Factories Plant Engineering Exams:

Understanding the GCC Factories Exam Format

Before embarking on your study journey, it is imperative to familiarize yourself with the exam format.

The GCC Factories Plant Engineering format is as follows:

  • There are Sections A and B.

  • Section A consists of three compulsory questions that you must answer. Each question amounts to 20% of the exam, and Section A amounts to 60%.

  • Section B consists of 5 to 6 questions; you must answer two. Each question amounts to 20% of the exam, and Section B amounts to 40%.

  • Section A Question 1 is usually a mechanical engineering question. It is usually an applied thermodynamics question covering topics such as steam generators. The questions are a mixture of theory and calculations. Most exams have a 50/50 split between theory and calculation. So, you have to be strong in both.

  • Section A Question 2 is usually an electrical engineering question. It is usually a DC motor, induction motor, and transformer question. However, there are exams where the examiner will ask SANS 10142, fault current, and other miscellaneous electrical theory questions.

  • Section A Question 3 is usually a safety management question. The examiner usually asks an ISO 45001 question in 10% of the exam and a general safety question for the other 10%. The general safety questions vary from asking you to draft a procedure, safety checklists, or safety considerations when working with various equipment. The general safety question requires practical plant experience and keeping abreast with industry incidents and trends.

  • Section B combines electrical, mechanical, and general safety questions. You can get one question asking only electrical or mechanical. But other questions may include both mechanical and electrical. The mechanical topics include pumps, beams, material conveyors, passenger conveyors, compressors, fans, etc. And the other electrical topics may include transmission lines, lighting, economics of electricity, cables, alternators, etc.

  • You have three hours to answer five questions. The time allocation may seem like a lot, but you will soon realize how fast it goes.

  • The examiner used to have plenty of repeat questions in past exams. However, the trend in 2022 and 2023 has seen the examiner introducing more trick questions and, in certain instances, new questions.

  • The exam format has generally remained consistent over the years, except for the past couple of years, when the examiner is introduced to new questions or asks questions differently.

Comprehensive Study Material

The cornerstone of successful exam preparation lies in the choice of study materials. 

Given the recent changes in 2022 and 2023, select textbooks, reference guides, and online resources that cover the entire spectrum of topics outlined in the syllabus and consider the recent trends/changes.

Given the propensity for introducing new questions, staying abreast of the most recent materials ensures your preparation remains relevant and aligned with the exam requirements. In short, is the study material you are using fluid enough to provide updates as they happen?

Creating a Structured GCC Factories Exam Preparation Study Plan

Attending five-day revision classes two to three weeks before the exam doesn't work well for most GCC Factories Candidates.

The realistic amount of time you need to prepare for the exam is 14 to 18 weeks. During this period, you must break down your study session into manageable segments that cover a topic or lesson each day.

The Department of Employment and Labour GCC Factories syllabus consists of the following six broad modules:

  • Safety management with 6 topics

  • Electrical technology with 33 topics

  • Applied thermodynamics with 15 topics

  • Structures and strength of materials with 20 topics

  • Theory of machines with 18 topics

  • Fluid mechanics with 11 topics

  • Environment with 7 topics

There are 110 topics in total. Covering one topic per day means you will need about 16 weeks.

However, you will notice that you can cover more than one topic per day, and therefore, you can design your study plan to be over 5 or 6 days of studying per week. If you use good study material, you may need 3 to 5 hours per day of studying.

Covering multiple topics per day will help compress the study plan and ensure that you can allocate some time for practicing past questions and simulating the exams during revision time.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The proverb "practice makes perfect" holds for the GCC Factories Plant Engineering Exam.

I will collect past exam papers and go through as many questions as possible. The Palucraft website has a collection of the latest papers, and I would start there.

I will also collect sample questions from reference textbooks for the different topics. They will help introduce other ways to ask questions, enhance familiarity with the exam pattern, and sharpen my analytical and problem-solving skills.

Aim for timed practice sessions to simulate exam conditions and improve your ability to manage time effectively.

Focusing on Weak Areas

Self-assessment is a crucial aspect of exam preparation. Identify your weak areas through regular evaluations and allocate additional time to reinforce these concepts.

As a mechanical engineer, I know that electrical topics are my weak area. So, I would start my study journey with electrical technology and ensure that I master those topics first because I know I will not struggle much in comprehending the mechanical topics.

The other shortcoming I have noted from other GCC Factories candidates is the practical knowledge of safety management. I will prioritize getting more involved at work by becoming a SHE Representative, joining the SHE Committee, and engaging with incident investigations and periodic inspections.

I would seek assistance from tutors, peers, or online forums if topics are challenging.

Staying Updated with Industry Changes

The field of plant engineering and safety is dynamic, with continuous advancements and regulation changes.

In the past three years alone, the Department of Employment and Labour has amended about four regulations and introduced two new regulations. It is now in the process of amending the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

One of the trends I have noted in the past few exam seatings is the examiner asking questions about recent incidents or trends. For example, there was the Eskom hydrogen explosion, and the examiner asked about the incident.

Another example is the recent discussion about the energy mix. The examiner has asked questions related to that, such as the Levelised Cost of Energy, renewable energy options, and components of the PV installation.

I would keep an eye on the Palucraft Blog since they have shared articles that have been or ended up being part of the exam. I would also join the Palucraft mailing list, where they share regular updates on the GCC Factories exam.

Joining Study Groups

Study groups played a huge role in completing my Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering because we would share past papers and ways of answering different questions and assist each other with assignments.

I also benefited from being part of a study group while completing my Master's Degree. Group members would share reference sources, dissertation formats, and editing tools that will save time.

Being part of a study group will save you some time. You may also consider joining cohorts (group paid sessions), but make sure you choose one with a track record, an experienced facilitator, covers the considerations in this article, and has value for money.

Study groups or cohorts will serve as a great accountability tool, give you a sense of community, and keep you motivated during the journey.

Effective Time Management

You will need about 15 to 18 weeks to prepare for the GCC Factories Plant Engineering Exam.

The two factors that will ensure you meet your study plan are:

  • Quality study material and

  • Effective time management.

Time management is a critical skill during the exam preparation:

  • Allocate 3 to 5 hours per day of studying.

  • Allocate 5 to 6 days of studying.

  • Allocate 16 weeks of studying to meet your hourly and daily targets.

Simulating Exam Conditions

Include one practice exam every two to three, where you simulate the exam setup. 

Taking full-length practice exams helps assess your preparedness and identify any areas that need further improvement. Not only will you familiarize yourself with the exam environment, but it will also help build your endurance for the actual exam day. Analyze your performance, adjust your study plan accordingly, and focus on refining weak areas.

I suggest allocating two to three weeks of final revision, where you will complete multiple practice exams within three hours over two weeks.

The above strategies will ensure sufficient time to attempt all questions and help build confidence.

Prioritizing Mental and Physical Well-being

When my body feels good, my mind feels better. That applies to most of us.

The challenging thing about the GCC Factories Exams is that you must prepare while working full time, which may exert a lot of pressure on your mind and body.

Here is what has worked for me:

  • Ensuring I get enough sleep, 

  • maintaining a balanced diet, and 

  • taking breaks during your study sessions.

A healthy mind and body significantly contribute to your ability to absorb and retain information. Incorporate relaxation techniques, such as meditation or short walks, to alleviate stress and maintain a positive mindset.

Physical and mental health is essential, and many working GCC Factories Candidates neglect this factor.


Preparing for the GCC Factories Plant Engineering Exam 2024 demands a multifaceted approach.

You can navigate the challenges by understanding the exam format, utilizing comprehensive study materials, creating a structured study plan, and incorporating effective practice and collaboration.

Stay focused, stay current, and prioritize your well-being to maximize your chances of achieving success on exam day.

Remember, success is not just about mastering the content; it's about adopting a holistic approach that encompasses preparation, strategy, and self-care.

Best of luck!


PS: The Palucraft GCC Factories Plant Engineering Exam Preparation Programme is designed to help you achieve all the above. Our programme will save you time and keep you abreast with the latest trends to ensure you pass the first time. Click here to learn more about our programme.

GCC Factories Plant Engineering Exam Preparation Programme

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