Taking any of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) exams requires a lot of preparation and, in order to achieve the right result the first time, you will want to enlist the support of an experienced training provider. The syllabus is comprehensive and prior to taking the oral  exam However, with so many  MCA orals prep training providers to choose from, it’s important that you spend some time thinking about your specific requirements – What do you need from your oral exam prep course?

Here, we’ll share some advice on what to look for from an approved MCA oral training provider and how to decide on the right one for you. We’ll also explore some of the prerequisites you will need to have completed prior to applying for your exam.

The NOE Process

1. Introduction

1.1 The way in which you can book your oral exam has changed. The MCA  rolled out a new system in April 2022 where you will be able to book your oral exam using the Online Booking Service. The Oral exam is currently being delivered through an online platform.

1.2 This MIN provides an overview of the process of gaining an NOE, booking an online oral exam, undertaking an oral exam and what to do after an oral exam.

2. The NOE Process

2.1 Candidates can currently apply for an NOE by using the appropriate application form and referring to the process detailed in MIN 655 sections 3 & 4 (or subsequent publications). If you are required to submit your Training Record Book (TRB), the full physical book should be sent to the Seafarer Services Branch (to the address provided in the ‘more information’ section of this Notice), but you must retain scanned copies of the overview signature pages from the TRB. These will be required for your oral exam as per section 3.1 of this Notice.

2.2 The application forms and associated Marine Notices:

Quick Reference Application Form (including link) M-Notice Number (including link)
Deck Officers MSF 4274 MSN 1856
Engineer Officers MSF 4275 MSN 1857
Fishing Deck MSF 4345 MGN 411
Yacht Deck Officers MSF 4343 MSN 1858
Yacht Engineer Officers MSF 4278 MSN 1859
Electro-technical Officers (ETOs) MSF 4259 MSN 1860
Tugs (Deck) MSF 4260 MGN 495
Workboats (Deck) MSF 4257 MGN 496
Small Vessel Engineers (including Fishing Eng.) MSF 4900 MIN 524

2.3 If you meet the requirements, an NOE will be issued. Currently this is done through email and you will receive an electronic NOE . Only after you have received your NOE can you book an oral exam though the central team.


3. Online Oral Exam Booking Process

3.1 You will need to send your electronic NOE (emailed to you by STC, not a photograph or scan of the NOE), scanned Government ID and, scanned Discharge Book (showing the qualifying seagoing service for the certificate you are applying for or the past 12 months’ worth of seagoing service, inclusive of all required watchkeeping time, whichever is less. These scans must include the ship stamps and Master’s signature), via email to onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk.

3.2 For OOW, EOOW and ETO (cadet) candidates only, you will also need to send a scan of the following excerpts from your Training Record Book (TRB):

  • At the start of the TRB, and labeled as page “i” – Contact Details, with the stamp from MCA Seafarers Services Branch confirming they have reviewed your TRB;
  • Section 2.2 – Sea Service record (page 11 of the 2018 4th edition); and
  • Section 3.3 – Particulars of Ships (pages 23-25 of the 4th edition for the first ship and each subsequent vessel).

3.3 Once received, the Online Oral Exams team will check the details and send you a link to the Online Booking Service which will enable you to book your oral. The email will include the Candidate Code of Conduct, instructions for the use of Microsoft Teams and (for Deck Officer candidates) a Radar Plotting Sheet. The Booking Service does not permit bookings within 14 days. For bookings within 14 days please advise the Online Oral Exams Team via email to onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk.

3.4 The Online Booking Service will state the exam type you are eligible for – please check this is correct before selecting a time slot, if your exam type is incorrect, please email onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk.

3.5 The available dates and times will display, please select a suitable date and time. Unavailable dates will not be visible. Please complete the contact details section and ensure you provide the email address that you will be logging in from for the oral exam. You will receive an email confirmation containing the Teams link for the date and time you have chosen. Please use this link to join your oral exam.

3.6 If you need to amend / update the email address you will be joining from please email the new email address to onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk. The Online Oral Exams team will then need to send you a new appointment with an updated link. This request must be made at least 3 working days prior to your appointment.

4. What candidates need to know prior to an Oral Exam

4.1 The MCA will use Microsoft Teams for the examination. Microsoft Teams will need to be downloaded prior to the start of the examination and you must log onto the meeting at least 10 minutes prior to the designated start time. If you are unable to attend without a valid reason this shall be considered as a fail.

4.2 You will need to ensure you have a suitable room available with the necessary amenities i.e. a clear desk, comfortable chair, water, low ambient noise and is adequately lit with no glare. The IT equipment provided must have a camera and access to a reliable high-speed internet connection (recommended minimum 10mbps), enough for Microsoft Teams to be successfully supported. Candidates are not permitted to wear headphones during the oral examination.

4.3 If during the exam there are connectivity and/or reliability issues resulting in repeated interruption to IT equipment or connections, this will result in postponement of the exam and require a re-scheduling of the exam and potentially a referral to a face-to-face exam.

4.4 If you want to postpone this appointment, the MCA need at least 14 days email notice. More than 2 cancellations may result in forfeit of the examination fee. If you cancel within 14 days of your appointment, or fail to attend without a valid reason, you will fail the examination by default.

4.5 If you cancel your exam you will need to email onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk for a new link and resubmit your documents.

4.6 For guidance Annex A details the required evidence that must be submitted depending on the oral exam and educational route they have taken.

5. After the Oral Exam

5.1 Once you have completed your oral examination the MCA Examiner will record the result of your oral examination on your NOE. This will be forwarded to you from the Online Oral Exams Team. If you do not receive the NOE within 5 working days of your oral exam, please contact onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk.

5.2 If you have passed your Oral examination, you should submit the completed NOE to the relevant team and supply any outstanding documents or evidence as required by the applicable MSN (noted in the table in section 2.2 of this Notice). Completed NOEs and scans of outstanding documents should be emailed to the relevant team deck@mcga.gov.uk or engineering@mcga.gov.uk (as applicable).

5.3 If you fail your oral examination and would like to apply for a resit, you will need to submit your completed NOE along with any supporting documentation by email to deck@mcga.gov.uk or engineering@mcga.gov.uk, where you will be required to pay an additional fee via GOV.UK Pay before applying for a new NOE. Further information on the resit process can be found in the MSN relevant to your application (noted in the table in section 2.2 of this Notice).

More Information

UK Seafarer Services
Maritime and Coastguard Agency,
Bay 2/11
Spring Place,
105 Commercial Road,
SO15 1EG.

Email: onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk

General Enquiries: infoline@mcga.gov.uk

Learning Options

It’s important to remember that not everyone learns in the same way; what works for you might not work for somebody else. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face sessions were halted to prevent the spread of the virus and the number of online learning options became more widely available – These continue to be used by students even after the coronavirus pandemic.

At Captain Barry Sadler Maritime Training Academy, as well as  our comprehensive e-learning  we offer a wide range of learning choices for candidates, including,  blended learning  – this is a combination of different styles and tools, including courses and live interactive sessions over Microsoft Teams. One  day safety topic courses such as Colregs and enclosed spaces.  We also offer a number of oral prep books as well as a comprehensive offline app.

    Tip No.1

    When looking for your MCA Orals prep training provider, ensure you carry out some research into the type of learning options they offer and which ones are the right fit for you. There are many types of learners (visual, auditory, logical and solitary), so it’s worth taking the time to work out which provider offers a set-up that best suits your preferences.


    With all the online courses available, there’s still a high demand for blended learning incorporating in-person learning, whether that be 1-2-1 or within a small group.

    If you feel  in-person sessions is the preferred option, then the location of your orals prep  training provider will be crucial. Obviously you’d struggle to attend classes if you’re located miles away from where they take place. Look for the providers that provide both face to face as well as Microsoft team attendance options. 

    There are a lot of positive aspects to blended learning incorporating  121 or small group training  namely, the ability to review course infirmation as many times as you need to in oder to reinforce your learning as well as  the opportunity to ask questions and get immediate answers with the small group or 121 addition. Conversation which usually reinforces clarity and understanding of the topic in hand.

    MCA Training Prices

    While it’s important that you find a qualified training provider with a fantastic track record and high pass rate, you might also need to take into consideration the price.

    While doing your research, it makes sense to set yourself a budget before checking the price of each course. Quality  MCA orals prep  training is not cheap but you need to view the entire process as an investment in your future: you’re looking to further your seafarer career, whether that be in the superyacht industry, the merchant navy or another relevant sector.

    As with so many other things, you really do get what you pay for in this industry. So if you end up paying for training that is not up to standard, you’re increasing the likelihood that you’ll need to retake the exam at some point in the future. This will obviously cost you more money in the long run, so it’s important to identify a reputable and relevant provider from the beginning. MCA oral exams are expensive, and resitting any exam just increases the pressure on the candidate by enforcing the need to pass. Check out our prices.

    It’s also never a bad idea to take a look at the reviews for each service and ask other learners how they felt about the course.

    We hope this blog has given you some useful things to consider when choosing your MCA oral training provider and you have a clearer understanding about MCA oral exam prep.

    If you would like any more information on the learning options we provide at Captain Barry Sadler then don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our experienced team will be happy to discuss any queries you have.

    We wish you the best of luck in your exams and your career!