Second Mate: Exam, Eligibility, Syllabus

2nd Mate in Merchant Navy

1. Second Mate Overview

The Second  Mate Exam in India is the building block of a Deck Officer’s Career and  

Should therefore be properly studied and understood.

There needs to be more clarity about what this examination is all about and the entire process just seems too complicated and troubling.

In this Blog, we are going to make it as simple as possible for you to understand the intricate details of the examination and plan your steps with a full appraisal of the circumstances.

The Blog will apply to those who are sailing or planning on sailing onboard Foreign Going (F.G)  Merchant vessels

Check out our comprehensive guidance video on the 2nd Mate COC Exam here:

2nd mate Exam Guidance Series

2. 2nd Mates Exam

Before understanding what the 2nd Mates Exam is, we need to understand the Career Progression of a Deck Officer

2nd mate Exam
  • In Simple Words, The 2nd Mates Exam is required as it grants you the license to perform duties as a 2nd Mate onboard a ship would do.
  • As you can see from the above flowchart, a Deck Cadet needs to successfully Pass the Examination to Sail onboard as a Third Officer and for further promotion to Second Officer
  • The Director General of Shipping(D.G) is responsible for the conduct of professional license exams for Merchant Navy Officers in India.

3. 2nd Mate Function Course

The courses required for the 2nd Mate Examination can be grouped as follows:

  • 2nd Mate Function Course
  • Advanced STCW & Modular Courses
  • Simulator-Based Courses
2nd Mate Function Course
  • The Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping(STCW) Convention requires seafarers to undergo various courses throughout their careers. 
  • For the 2nd Mates Examination, the following Advanced Modular Courses are required.
  • Physical Classes are held for all of these courses at the Maritime Training Institute
  • For all of these courses, E-learning should be completed on the D.G. Shipping Website.

Basic Details of all the 7 required courses are given below:

7 required courses

3.1. Where Should You Do Your Courses From?

Courses can be done at any Institute of your convenience.

 Two things are to be kept in mind:

  • Quality and review of the institution
  • Financial Feasibility

The GMDSS Course should be given special attention as it is considered to be one of the most challenging courses and probably the most important. Only a good institute should be chosen for this course.

4. 2nd Mate Assessment Process

To be eligible to attend the 2nd Mate Exam(Orals+Writtens), certain documents are required to be submitted to the MMD of your Choice.

Only when these documents are verified, one become eligible to attend the exams.

The MMD issues an Assessment Checklist, based on which you need to present the Documents 

2nd Mate Assessment process

4.1. 2nd Mate Assessment Checklist:

2nd Mate assessment checklist


GMDSS Course
  • GMDSS stands for Global Maritime Distress and Safety System
  • It is a System that relies on Satellite and Land Based radio Stations to Facilitate Ship-shore communication(Rescue Coordination Center)
  • The GMDSS Course consists of the following:
  1. 12-Day Course
  2. 3-4 days of Exam conducted by the Ministry of Communications
  • After Completing the course, you will get to know the essential emergency & distress procedures using several pieces of equipment.

5.1. Importance of GMDSS Course & Exam:

  • The GMDSS Course involves subjects entirely new to your knowledge
  • A strict invigilated exam lasts 3-4 days.
  • Invigilation and orals are conducted by officials from 2 different departments of the government of India.
  • As an officer, you must be thorough with the GMDSS equipment. In a real-time distress situation, your proficiency in handling GMDSS equipment may prove to be detrimental. 

5.2. GMDSS Course Fees:

Minimum EligibilityCLASS 12th Pass Certificate with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics Passport Valid SID.
Duration12 Days + 3-4 days Exam
Course Fees₹24999
Conducting BodyDG Shipping & Ministry of Communications (MOC)

Note: All of the above-mentioned details may vary from Institute to Institute. Visit respective websites to gather full knowledge

5.3. GMDSS Exam Pattern

Part A: Written Theory

SectionTypeMaximum MarksPassing Marks(Section-wise)Passing Marks(Both Sections)
Section AMCQ (30 Nos)3018/30
Section BDescriptive( 5 SOLAS Questions)3018/30

Part B: Commercial Working & Practical

SectionDescriptionMaximum MarksPassing Marks
R/T Log Log Keeping30

Single Side Band(SSB) OralsSurveyor asks questions20
DSCPractical + Orals20

5.4. GOC

It stands for General Operators Certificate.

It is the highest level GMDSS Radio operator qualification

After clearing your GMDSS exam, you will be issued a provisional GOC License which needs a GOC Endorsement

Cost of GOC 

GOC Endorsement₹3000
GOC Hard Copy (20 Years Validity)₹5000
GOC Hard Copy (Lifetime Validity)₹10000

6. 2nd Mate Course Fees

In the end, it all boils down to this question:

  • How much money does a deck cadet need to save for the 2nd Mate Exam?

The following table may give you a better idea about the total cost of the 2nd Mate exam:

TopicMoney Required
Advanced & Modular CoursesAFF Course(6 days)- ₹7500
MFA Course(4 days)- ₹3500
PSCRB Course(5 days) – ₹6500
ROSC Course( 2 weeks) – ₹13,000
ARPA Course – ₹7000
ECDIS Course – ₹13,000
GMDSS Course – ₹35,000
GOC Endorsement – ₹3000

Total Cost – ₹88,500
All of the costs are rough estimates and based on the average cost of these cour
2nd Mate Function Course(For DNS)₹40000(Average)
2nd Mate Assessment₹3000
2nd Mate Written Exam₹3000 (1st Attempt )
2nd Mate Oral Exam₹3000 (1st Attempt )
COC application₹3000
Fooding & Lodging₹60000 (For DNS cadets due to function course )
₹15000 (For BSc Cadets)
Total Cost₹2,10,500 (For DNS Cadets)
₹1,35,500 (For B.Sc cadets) (Approx)

7. 2nd Mate Exam Eligibility 

The Eligibility criteria vary according to the type of course completed at the pre-sea training level. 

The following components are required:

  • Completion of pre-sea training
  • Completion of required Sea time
  • Functions Course
  • Completion of Advanced  Modular Courses
  • Passing the Signalling Exam
Eligibility for 2nd Mate Exam

8. 2nd Mate Syllabus

The 2nd Mate Exam Syllabus is divided into three Functions that comprise different subjects. They are listed in the following table:

Function 1Terrestrial & Coastal Navigation
Celestial Navigation
Bridge Equipment and Watch Keeping
Function 2Cargo Work
Function 3Ship Stability
Ship Safety
Environmental protections Construction

For Syllabus Details, download the Polaris app- Click Here 

8.1. 2nd Mate Written Examination Syllabus:

Sr. No.SubjectSub-topics
1Terrestrial & Coastal NavigationPassage Planning
Chart Work- Running Fix, 3-point Bearing, H.S.A, Rising & Dipping, First & Last Sight, Allowing & Counteracting 
Days Work
Great Circle
Tidal Calculations
Chart Symbols
2Celestial NavigationPrincipal Navigation Theory& Numericals
Staggered & Simultaneous Observations
Long by Chron Sun/Moon
Intercept Method
Compass Error by ABC method, amplitude, Time of Rising Setting, Meridian Passage, Meridian Altitude of Sun
Polaris, Computing Altitude, Meridian Altitude of Sun
3MeteorologyCoding & Decoding
Wind Triangle, Theory of Wind
Meteorological Instruments
Atmosphere/Atmospheric pressure
Clouds/ Visibility/ Climatology
Weather System/ Sea & Swell/ Weather Forecasting
4Bridge EquipmentGyro Compass, Magnetic Compass, Auto-Pilot, Course Recorder, ROTI
Doppler Log, E.M Log, Echo Sounder, BNWAS
L.R.I.T, AIS, VDR, Sextant
Bridge Procedure
IAMSAR, VTS Procedure, Ship Reporting System
Watch-keeping, BRM
5Cargo WorkDry Cargo numerical
Wet Cargo numerically
Dry theory
Wet Theory
Container/ RORO
Refrigerated Cargo & General Cargo
Damage to Cargo & reporting
6Ship Construction, Stability, Ship Safety & Environmental ProtectionM.V Hindship
Stability Numerical
Ship Construction Diagram
Ship Safety & Environment Protection
Safe Working Practices & Checklist
Ship Construction Theory
Maritime Legislation(SOLAS/ ISPS/ ISM)
Leadership & Team Working Skills

For the official Question Paper Format

To know about the Eligibility Criteria for the 2nd Mate Examination,

8.2. 2nd Mate Oral Syllabus:


1. Plan and conduct a passage and determine position

 Ability to Use Celestial and Terrestrial bodies, Landmarks, and Aids to navigate to determine position, to appreciate and allow for the effect of wind, tides, and current, to use charts incl. ECDIS AND PUBS e.g. Sailing Directions. Radio Navigational warning, Routing information, etc. Ability to correctly use Nav-aids e.g. Echo sounders, Compass (Gyro and Magnetic), Steering control systems and their adjustments, etc. Ability to interpret information received from Shipboard Meteorological Instruments.

2. To maintain a safe Navigational watch 

Thorough Knowledge of content, application, and intent of ROR Lookout duties.

3. Respond to Emergencies

Precautions for personnel protection and safety, initial assessment of damage, and control in case of fire, collision, flooding, standing, etc. Making emergency MasterCard and conducting drills Responding to distress signals at sea, Knowledge of IAMSAR.

4. Ship maneuvering and handling.

Knowledge of factors affecting Safe maneuvering capabilities and their optimum uses.


1. Monitor loading, Discharging, Stowage, and care during passage

Knowledge of safe handling, storage, and securing of cargoes including dangerous, hazardous, and harmful cargoes, and their effects on the safety of life and of the shop. Use of IMDG code.


1. Compliance with pollution prevention requirements

 Knowledge of precautions to prevent air and sea pollution, Knowledge of pollution prevention rules and regulations, Anti-pollution procedures, and all associated equipment.

2. Maintain the seaworthiness of the ship.

Working knowledge and application of stability, trim and stress tables, diagrams and stress-calculation equipment, understanding of basic actions to be taken in case of partial loss of intact buoyancy, understanding of fundamentalPrincipal of watertight integrity, Knowledge of principal structural members of a shop and proper names for the various parts.

3. Prevent, control, and fight fires on board

Knowledge of fire prevention, Ability to organize fire drills, Knowledge of firefighting systems, and understanding of actions to be taken in the event of a fire, including fire involving oil systems.

4. Operate Lifesaving Appliances

Ability to organize abandonship drills and knowledge of the operation of survival craft and their associated equipment including Life Saving Appliances and Life support apparatuses.

5. Apply Medical First Aid on board

 Practical application of medical Guide and advice by Radio including the ability to take effective Life Saving action in case of on-board emergencies. Maintenance of medical chest.

6. Monitor compliance with legislative requirements.
Basic working knowledge of the main IMO convention, the Indian Merchant Shipping Act. 1958 and M/M.S. notices and other circulars (Issued by D.G.S. and various recognized forums)

8.3. Documents required for 2nd Mate Exam:

The Various documents required for the 2nd Mate Examination at various stages of the courses and examination are as follows:

  • CDC
  • Medical Fitness Declaration
  • Basic STCW Course valid certificates
  • 2nd Mate Function Course Certificates( For DNS only )
  • Advanced STCW Course valid certificates
  • Passport
  • CDC 
  • SSTP
  • 6 Months watch-keeping certificate signed by Master
  • SSC and HSC Mark Sheet/ Degree Certificates

This is just a basic overview of some documents required.

Go through our comprehensive blog on 2nd Mate Exam Eligibility, Full detailed information.

9. 2nd Mate Exam Pattern

The 2nd Mates Exam Consists of the following Components:

  • 6 Written Exams
  • 3 Oral Exams
  • Signaling Exam(Morse)

It is further Illustrated Below:

Written Exam
Oral Exam
signalling exam- Morse Code Flashing

9.1 2nd Mate Written Examination:

Details of the written examination are given below:

Sr. NoSubjectsMaximum MarksPassing MarksDuration
1.Terrestrial & Coastal Navigation2001403 Hrs
2.Celestial Navigation2001403 Hrs
3.Meteorology100502 Hrs
4.Bridge Equipment2001003 Hrs
5.Cargo work2001203 Hrs
6.Ship Construction, Stability, Ship Safety & Environmental Protection2001202 Hrs

9.2 Most Difficult Subject of 2nd Mate Examination:

Now, difficulty is a subjective term and can vary from individual to individual. 

We have ranked the difficulty of the subjects as per our personal preferences:

most difficult subject of 2nd Mate Examination
  • Function 1 is extremely vast and includes a variety of topics. Extensive preparation is required to understand as well as remember topics properly. In the Oral examination, the most imaginative questions that require thinking are asked from this function
  • Function 3 is also vast but not as vast as Function 1. Some subjects need very little understanding and more learning. The only exception is Stability.
  • Function 2 may be considered the easiest as questions can be answered with experience and knowledge.

9.3 2nd Mate Oral Examination

  • The 2nd Mate Oral syllabus comprises the 3 Functions discussed above.
  • All of the 3 Functions exams are conducted on the same day.

9.4 2nd Mate Oral Examination Pattern:

  • Traditionally the oral Examination was offline where you had to face 2 MMD Surveyors(External + Internal).
  • Nowadays, You can Choose between Online or Offline Mode
  • Even in Offline Mode, you will have to sit in front of a computer and will be asked various questions by both surveyors
  • You will be asked about 10 questions from anywhere on the topics of that specific function and judged by the Surveyor.
Sr No.FunctionTotal MarksPassing Marks
1Function 110070
2Function 210060
3Function 310060

10. 2nd mate signaling exam

 morse Code Flashing

Key Points:

  • The Signaling Exam is generally conducted before the orals are conducted
  • It is a Morse Code Identification exam aimed at testing your proficiency in Morse Communication
  • The result is given out on the same day or maybe the next day
  • A Surveyor will be flashing types of Morse Codes and you will have to write them down in a piece of Paper

Details of Signaling Exam:

Exam SyllabusSingle digit Alpha-numeric Codes – Morse Codes from A to Z and Numbers from 0-9
No Special Characters are asked
Exam ModeWritten Only
Exam PatternBlocks- Single Alphanumeric Code. Eg- A, N, V
Groups- Eg- NEST, BIRD, AZB9
Marking Scheme(60 Codes x 1 Mark)  = 60 Marks
(8 Groups x 5 Marks) = 40 Marks                         
Total = 100 Marks
Passing Marks70/100 

10.1. Preparation For Signaling Exam:

  • Morse codes for the above syllabus should be learned by heart using any method appropriate. 
  • Although the exam is written only, it is recommended that you prepare in such a way that you can answer the questions almost orally.

Use the following chart:

international Morse course

For Further Practice, you may seek the help of YouTube. Here are some channels for you to explore:

11. 2nd Mate Exam Schedule

The Examinations(Written, Orals & Signaling exams) are held each month. The exact schedule of the examination is published on the DG Shipping Website.

For Example, look at the examination schedule for January 2024:

12. How to apply for 2nd Mate CoC:

Once you clear all of your Examinations (Written+Orals+Signaling) you are eligible to apply for your 2nd Mate Certificate of Competency.

Use the following video to understand the procedure:

13. 2nd Mate Exam in UK

  • It is a well-known fact that the 2nd Mate Examination in India is the toughest to clear and holds more value than other COCs
  • Some cadets who feel that it’s too tedious to obtain COC in India, opt for the 2nd Mate Examination in the UK.
  • It is a common practice for candidates from the rating background to try to obtain a COC from the UK
  • To know more about the UK COC:
How to Apply for UK CoC for GP Rating to 3rd officer.


13.1 2nd Mate Exam Fees in the UK

Directly from UK

Expense CategoriesCost in GBP (Pound)Cost in INR (Rupee)
IELTS363 GBP₹36,351.58
Enrollment Fee (1000 GBP+ 8145 GBP)9145 GBP₹9,145,000
Maintenance Funds for Visa (1023*9) GBP 9207 GBP₹91,350.00
Living Expenses (Monthly)200-300 GBP₹20,000 – ₹30,000
Chest Report25 GBP₹2,500.00
Flight Ticket250- 500 GBP₹25,000 – ₹50,000
UK Student Visa1100 GBP₹,10,000
Total20290-20640 GBP₹20,29,000 – ₹20,64,000

UK & India Blended Program (6+3 Months)

Expense CategoriesCost in GBPCost in INR
IELTSNot RequiredNot Required 
Enrollment Fee8025 GBP₹8,02,500
Maintenance Funds for Visa (1023*6) GBP 9207 GBP₹92,700
Living Expenses (Monthly)200-300 GBP₹20,000 – ₹30,000
Chest ReportNot RequiredNot Required
Flight Ticket250- 500 GBP₹25,000 – ₹50,000
UK Student Visa130- 400GBP₹13,000- ₹40,000
Total17,812- 18,432 GBP₹17,81,200 – ₹ 18,43,200

14. 2nd Mate Exam Fees in India

Examination1st Attempt FeeTotal Fee
Written Exams (6 Subjects)₹500 (for each subject)3000
Oral Exams (3 Function)1000 (for each Function)3000
Signaling Exam1000 1000

15. Conclusion

If you have read this blog properly, you should have an Idea about what the Second Mates Examination in India is all about. 

You should always keep in mind that the exam requires a hefty amount of preparation and determination as well. It is a belief that 

Obtaining a 2nd Mates COC in India is one of the most difficult tasks as compared to other countries and hence is valued more in the maritime fraternity. Make sure you have the proper plan and preparation strategy well in advance to always have an edge.


1. Where can I find information about the syllabus for the 2nd Mates Exam?

Ans. Information about the 2nd Mate Exam can be found Here:

Signaling Exam – Morse Code

2. What qualifications are required to appear for the 2nd Mates Exam?

Ans. You need to Complete 12-18 Months of Seatime, including 6 Months of Watch Keeping, and Complete 7 Advanced Modular courses as per STCW.

3. How is the 2nd Mates Exam structured?

Ans. The 2nd Mates Exam Consists of 6 Written Examinations, 3 Oral Examinations, and a signaling exam 

4. Why is it called 2nd Mates?

Ans. It may seem to some that the exam should be called the 3rd Mate Exam as one will be joining as a 3rd Officer onboard after obtaining the 2nd Mate COC. The 2nd Mate COC entitles one to be able to be promoted to the rank of 2nd Officer onboard. No further examinations are needed at this Stage

5. What is the Maximum number of Attempts that are allowed?

Ans. 2nd Mates can be attempted an unlimited number of times until it is cleared. The only catch is that it should be 

6. How Difficult is the 2nd Mate Examination?

Ans. The 2nd Mate Examination is considered to be difficult for the average student as it comprises 3 different examinations. The Orals are particularly difficult as questions may be asked from anywhere in the syllabus.

7. What if I fail in one subject and pass in others?

Ans. If you fail in one subject and pass in the rest, you need to attend the re-examination of the failed subject only and pay the respective fees accordingly. You need to wait at least a month to take the re-examination. This applies to Orals as well. Click Here.

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