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How to Crack the 8870 IC Exam

How to Crack the 8870 IC Exam

The 8870 IC exam is a challenging test that requires thorough preparation and strategic studying. This exam covers a range of complex topics related to integrated circuits. Successfully passing this exam demonstrates your expertise and readiness to take on advanced roles in IC design and engineering.

Cracking the 8870 IC exam takes commitment, perseverance and the right study plan. Follow this comprehensive guide to master the key concepts, skills and best practices you need to ace the test.

Understanding the 8870 IC Exam Format

The first step is understanding the exam format and structure. The 8870 IC exam contains 150 multiple choice questions that must be completed within a 3 hour time period. Questions are organized into the following key content areas:

Analog Circuits (25%)

Topics cover analog circuit analysis, performance and operation. This includes concepts like amplifiers, filters, oscillators, A/D and D/A converters.

Digital Circuits (20%)

Content related to digital logic gates, flip flops, counters, registers, memory and microprocessor architecture.

General Circuit Theory (15%)

Foundational circuit analysis concepts including Kirchhoff’s laws, Thevenin/Norton equivalents, transient response, phasors, transfer functions.

Mathematics (15%)

Mathematical methods used in circuit analysis like complex numbers, matrices, trigonometry, calculus, statistics.

Electromagnetics (10%)

Principles of electromagnetism including electrostatics, magnetostatics, Maxwell’s equations, transmission lines.

Electronic Devices (10%)

Understanding of semiconductor devices like diodes, BJTs, FETs, their operation and applications.

Measurements & Instrumentation (5%)

Use of test equipment, measurement techniques, signal analysis, instrument accuracy and precision.

Key Exam Preparation Strategies

Follow these proven strategies to prep for the 8870 IC exam:

Learn the Test Format Inside and Out

Get intimately familiar with every aspect of the exam format, rules and procedures. Know the number of questions, time limit, topics covered and scoring process. This prevents surprises on test day.

Master the Core Concepts

Don’t rely on superficial knowledge – truly master the key theories, formulas, and concepts covered on the exam. Understanding fundamentals is crucial for solving complex problems. Focus study time on your weakest knowledge areas.

Practice with Realistic Questions

Solving practice questions that mimic actual exam questions is critical. Work through hundreds of multiple choice questions that are similar in format, style and difficulty. Verify your answers to correct any misconceptions.

Review Mistakes Thoroughly

Analyze each practice question you get wrong and fully review the topic. Pinpoint exactly why the correct answer is right. Connecting mistakes to broader concepts improves learning.

Take Simulated Exams

Take practice exams mimicking the real testing environment. Take them in a quiet room without interruption and time yourself stringently. This builds exam endurance and mental focus.

Know Key Mathematical Methods

Memorize and practice applying essential mathematical techniques like complex arithmetic, matrices, differential equations, Fourier transforms and statistics. These provide the foundation for analyzing circuits quantitatively.

Organize Formulas and Equations

Many exam questions test your grasp of key equations and formulas. Create formula sheets summarizing all the essential electrical engineering equations categorized by topic. Memorize these cold.

Leverage Visual Study Aids

Conceptual visual aids like diagrams, schematics, plots, sketches, and animations cement understanding. Draw diagrams out by hand to engage motor memory. Associate visuals with formulas.

Study in a Group

Join a study group with peers also taking the 8870 IC exam. Discuss concepts, quiz each other’s knowledge and compare study notes. Explaining concepts reinforces learning.

Take a Review Course

Taking a formal 8870 IC exam prep course can provide structure and guidance. Quality courses teach concise review strategies, provide practice questions and simulate the real exam. Just be wary of low quality courses.

Topics and Concepts to Master

Here are some of the most important topics and concepts to focus on for the 8870 IC exam:

Analog Circuits

  • Op amp circuits – inverting/non-inverting amplifier, summing amplifier, integrator, differentiator, comparator. Know idealized op amp model and conventions.
  • Negative feedback – reduces gain, increases bandwidth, reduces nonlinearity and distortion. Know trade offs.
  • Frequency response – bandpass/rejection characteristics of passive RC filters, poles and zeros.
  • Power amplifiers – Class A, B, AB and C types. Understand efficiency, distortion, switching times.
  • Oscillators – LC tank, relaxation, crystal types. Negative resistance condition for oscillations.
  • Data converters – D/A converters using R-2R ladders. A/D converters using successive approximation, flash, sigma-delta types. Quantization effects.

Digital Circuits

  • Logic gate implementations – AND, OR, NOT gates using RTL, DTL, TTL, CMOS, ECL, MOSFETS. Noise margins, fan out, propagation delay.
  • Flip flops – RS, D, JK, T types. Timing diagrams, edge triggering, master-slave arrangement. Applications like counters, registers, state machines.
  • Combinational logic – Boolean algebra laws and theorems, Karnaugh maps, logic minimization techniques, encoders/decoders, multiplexers.
  • Sequential logic – Finite state machines, state transition diagrams and tables, clocked sequential circuits like counters.
  • Memory – SRAM, DRAM cell design. Timing diagrams. Memory array arrangement. Address decoding. Memory interfacing.

General Circuit Theory

  • Kirchhoff’s Current and Voltage Laws – understand node/mesh analysis, superposition, Thevenin & Norton equivalents.
  • Transient response – source free, complete response using homogeneous and particular solutions. Time constants.
  • AC steady state analysis – phasor concepts, impedances, frequency response, Bode plots.
  • Laplace transforms – proficiency in solving differential equations and circuit analysis via Laplace methods.
  • Two port networks – parameter matrices like Z, Y, H and T. Reciprocal networks.


  • Complex numbers – arithmetic, polar/rectangular forms, complex conjugate, Euler’s formula. Know de Moivre’s theorem.
  • Matrices – arithmetic, inverses, determinants. Solving linear equations using Cramer’s rule, eigenvalues.
  • Differential equations – linear vs nonlinear. First and second order ODE solving using Laplace transforms.
  • Fourier transforms – properties, frequency domain analysis, Fourier/Laplace transform pairs. Convolution.
  • Statistics – probability, variance, standard deviation, normal distribution. Understand concepts like correlation.


  • Electrostatics – electric charge, electric field, Gauss’s law, electric potential. Capacitance, dielectrics.
  • Magnetostatics – Biot-Savart law, Ampere’s law. Forces, torques on current carrying conductors.
  • Maxwell’s equations – integral and differential forms, continuity equation, boundary conditions. Plane wave propagation.
  • Transmission lines – lossless line model, characteristic impedance, standing waves, Smith chart. Line matching methods.

Electronic Devices

  • Semiconductors – energy bands, intrinsic/extrinsic doping, drift/diffusion current, generation/recombination.
  • PN junctions – depletion region, built-in potential, IV characteristics. Know diode approximations and models.
  • BJTs – npn and pnp types, biasing configurations like active/saturation modes. Small signal models.
  • FETs – JFETs, MOSFETs types. Transfer characteristics, transconductance, gate capacitance.
  • Amplifiers – small signal models, biasing considerations, gain, input/output impedance for transistor amplifiers.

Measurements & Instrumentation

  • Oscilloscopes – understand CRT, analog vs digital types. Probe specifications like attenuation, loading effects.
  • Signal analyzers – spectrum analyzers, network analyzers. Frequency domain measurements.
  • Noise – sources like thermal, shot, flicker noise. Noise figure, SNR calculations.
  • Instrument specifications – accuracy, precision, sensitivity, loading effects. Calibration techniques.

Helpful Resources

Leverage these resources to supplement your 8870 IC exam preparation:

With meticulous preparation using these tips and resources, you can master the knowledge and problem-solving skills needed to ace the challenging 8870 IC exam. Stay determined during your studies and have confidence in yourself. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much time should I spend preparing for the 8870 IC exam?

The recommended study time is 80-100 hours spread out over 8-10 weeks. This allows enough time to thoroughly learn concepts, work through practice questions, identify weak areas, and reinforce knowledge. Cramming is not advised.

2. What score is needed to pass the 8870 IC exam?

A score of 70% is needed to pass the exam. This equates to answering 105 questions correctly out of the 150 questions. There is no deduction for incorrect answers, so answer every question even if unsure.

3. What materials or references can I use during the exam?

The 8870 IC exam is closed book. No materials, textbooks, notes or electronics devices are allowed during the test. Simple calculators will be provided.

4. Where can I take the 8870 IC certification exam?

The exam is administered globally at Pearson VUE test centers. You can locate your nearest testing center and schedule an appointment on their website. Some workplaces also offer onsite testing.

5. Can I retake the 8870 IC exam if I fail?

Yes, you can retake the exam after a 60 day waiting period. Most exam failures can be attributed to inadequate preparation. Focus on improving weaker knowledge areas before attempting the exam again.

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