Passing the ICC (S1) Bolting Plan exam, like any other exam, can be assured if you put in the necessary effort. There is no denying the fact that you need to diligently study the required plans (blueprints) if you want to pass the exam. Apart from that, it will surely help if you have spent some time gathering field experience doing the job. Yes, the ICC allows those without experience to take it, but having seen the job live will increase your chances because you will be able to understand the plans when you read them. Still, the best way even for those without job experience is to prepare for the exam by diligently studying the subject with a mentor.
The ICC has recommended a number of references that you can read and study to help you in your preparation for the open book code segment. These references include the 2009 International Building Code, the Model Program for Special Inspection and the AISC Steel Construction Manual, 13thEdition. When a question comes up during the open book exam, and you have built speed in finding the answers from these sources, it will create more time for you on the plan interpretation portion of exam. You are also advised to take courses or seminars that are conducted purposely to help you with obtain a passing mark. Of course you can review the subjects by yourself, but there is added benefit in joining a class. These classes should be well organized and cover all the areas that will be given in the exam. You may not be able to do that by yourself. In addition, these classes should give emphasis on subjects which are weightier in terms of their percentage of the total score.
More importantly, these training courses should also enhance your knowledge of the technical aspects and the duties and responsibilities of an ICC (S1) Bolting Inspector. Admittedly, a lot of expensive inspection courses out there do not even cover structural plan reading, steel frame observation, inspection reports, typical inspection practices, material sampling, testing and verification, etc.
One last thing in closing is be at the exam site at least 30 minutes before the start. There will be instructions given before the start that will impact your total score. This is true when you are taking the computer-based exam. You need to complete the tutorial before starting the exam where you are instructed how to correctly input your answers. It will not help your nerves if you come in rushing. If your nerves are calm, your brain will be able to function in its maximum capacity. Remember, experts also advise that if you don't know the exact answer, make a guess, and don't leave the question unanswered. Who knows? Your guess may turn out right.
Good luck on the exam...