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Educational Department
- Basic Public Education -

Lamp of Learning


America's Boating Course - 3rd Edition
Course Tips

These course tips are being provided to help educational officers, course chairs, and instructors in conducting ABC3 courses. If you have a favorite tip, feel free to let us know using this form.

TIP - Using Microsoft Edge Browser To Create and Print Student Certificates and Wallet Cards

If you’re using Microsoft Edge as your browser, the following procedures will allow you to create and print student certificates and wallet cards.

  1. Make sure that you have Adobe Reader installed.
  2. Follow normal HQ-800 procedures to the Boating Course Details 800 Form.
  3. Select Enrollment Management Tools.
  4. On Course Enrollment Management Tools, select Certs/Cards.
  5. On Create Student Certificates and Wallet Cards, click on the Options Menu indicated by “…” in the upper right corner of the window.
  6. From the Options Menu list click on "Open with Internet Explorer".
  7. If the USPS Logon window appears, login and continue.
  8. Make your selections to print Certificates, Wallet, or Forms.
  9. Sometimes selections page entries may be lost and have to be re-entered.
  10. Select Create Print File.
  11. Select Print.

It's important to do the following in sequence:

  1. Select Printer Icon
  2. Select Printer
  3. Select Pages to Print
  4. Actual Size
  5. Portrait Orientation
  6. Confirm Print View shows desired number of pages.

When the print is finished, close the window. If you want to print additional certificates or cards, click on "Continue Printing". (This takes you back to Create Student Certificates and Wallet Cards.)

TIP - HQ-800 Updates for Managing All USPS Courses and Seminars

  1. The HQ-800 registration page allows you to enter ALL USPS seminars, ABC3, and advanced and elective courses your squadron may be scheduling. This is a great tool to place your educational program with prospective students who conduct web searches for recreational boating education - free advertising. And there is provision to check a "plus OWT" to advertise to the prospective student's intent to enrich the education with on-the-water training.
  2. The 2016 HQ-800 form selections for ABC3 shows the 8 hour and 16 hour classes with provision to indicate, by checking the "plus OWT" box, inclusion of on-the-water training. The approved ABC3 OWT is available for download from the EdDept home page, ABC3 sub-page, and additionally embedded in the 2015 ABC3 Student Manual as Appendix A.
  3. The 2015 ABC3 materials are available from the USPS Materials Catalog on the EdDept home page pull down, including the 2015 Instructor Kit with the Instructor CD with 8 hour and 16 hour PowerPoint presentations.
  4. New, and required education for compliance with the 2015 NASBLA Standards, is state approved Section 8 material (PowerPoint and associated 10-question supplemental examinations). This material is posted as soon as approved by the state on the EdDept Home Page for downloading from the "State Boating Info" pull-down, tabs 3 and 4.
  5. The respective DEOs have been asked to assist with extracting the state approved examinations from the password protected listing and forward the material to the SEOs for use.
  6. The HQ-800 has rapid entry provision for squadrons recording completion of ABC3 proctored examinations for online ABC3 courses, and updating member records in DB2000 when documentation of Basic Boating Course completion is needed. Be sure to review the "read me" instructions for the HQ-800 page.
  7. New SEO or need more information on HQ-800? The ABC3 web page contains several DIY education tools for new and seasoned SEOs. The "Nonesuch" program is recommended as a starter.
  8. The HQ-800 entries may be inserted by any member in the squadron holding a squadron educational position. This allows flexibility for SEO/ASEO to have others help with the entries.
  9. January 1, 2016 added On the Water indicator for ABC and classes. See "How to Use" for details.
  10. March 11, 2016 added a "Schedule" facility to copy schedules to the server and to display them on the online reservation page. See "How to Use" for details.

TIP - Registering Overlooked ABC Class Completions

The importance of filing your America’s Boating Course (ABC) completions using the HQ-800 system cannot be overemphasized. One for instance is it meets NASBLA Terms and Conditions to teach in the states and territories, we must provide a data base recording successful completions by each student. That is also useful for those needing validation for insurance or license replacement. If for some reason you failed to enter past ABC class completions, the procedure to use HQ-800 to correct the error is:

  • Go to the HQ-800 home page, check boating course and history and find.
  • Existing history courses are listed with a blue box with a "+"
  • At the bottom of the list is a gray box with a "+" that says "Click to add a new record"
  • A form comes up for entering a history boating course record. It includes counts of registered and passed.
  • Once added displaying the record has a box labeled "History Management tools".
  • Clicking on that you can select from the menu "Add Course Graduates".
  • On the form which comes up you can add boating course completions.
  • When this is done the completion are recorded on both the server and HQ.

Of interest, a similar process exists for seminars but none exists for Advanced and Elective Courses. Those completions require ordering exams for specific individuals.

TIP - Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11 Issues

Unfortunately, the combination of Windows 8.1 and later and Internet Explorer 11 has introduced change that prevents the "Student Disc v3.2" Courseware from running. As a result, USPS withdrew the Courseware disc.

However, there are several actions that may facilitate using Internet Explorer 10 or a prior version, or have access to another browser.

  1. Do not use the Google Chrome browser; Chrome requires a special plug-in to play the Adobe Flash files that are on the Courseware disc.
  2. Try using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.
  3. You must change your computer's default settings to permit the Courseware to play regardless which browser you are using, including Firefox. The steps to change your computer's default settings are outlined on the inside-front-cover of the ABC student manual. Make sure you change both settings, else the Courseware will not play.

Please consult the downloadable ABC Companion "Courseware" Disc v3.2 User's Guide (3795KB, PDF) that covers in detail how to make the changes.

TIP - Squadron and Student Credit for Cooperative Courses by Squadrons

Co-teaching of courses by squadrons allows economy of class set up and teaching, fills instructor voids, facilitates conduct of more classes and coverage of a larger student area. When so doing, we need to manage class completion entries to fill needs for squadron and student credit. USPS has some advice.

For a boating course, you need to list it as multiple classes—one for each squadron—and assign pass/fail students to each class. As a matter of fact, you need to assign students up front to the squadron they would be in as a trial or regular member. Part of this is tied to getting credit, and part is tied to making them trial or regular members since the system assumes you will make them a trial or regular member for the squadron teaching the course. If one of the squadrons is teaching but has no graduates you can use the NoPass option to get credit for teaching a course.

For regular courses, the bottom line is that it doesn't matter. If the student is not a member make him or her a USPS University (UU) student. Completions give students credit for the course. The squadron registered as teaching the course doesn't matter since what gets reported is how many individuals from a squadron pass a course and it is not tied into the HQ-800 or ERAG systems. This means that it comes out of the historian's reports.

Thanks to P/C Dan Bartell for this tip. (15 Aug 14)

TIP - Using HQ-800 Software

This TIP is especially important as new SEOs and course chairs come aboard: READ THE HQ-800 “HOW TO USE” INFORMATION AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS. The "HOW TO USE" button at the top of every HQ-800 page provides information relevant to the particular page you're working on. It is often useful when a procedure seems unachievable to have an assistant read the “HOW TO USE” instructions and then follow the directions one more time. The importance of using the HQ-800 on-line program to help us manage course items from initial course advertising to distribution of course completion information cannot be overemphasized. Essentially, HQ-800 software facilitates managing the whole course from blocking inappropriate communications to minor-aged students to meeting USPS-state MOU agreements to provide student and course information. READ THE HQ-800 “HOW TO USE” INFORMATION AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS. (10 Apr 14)

Tip - Getting Certificate Numbers for Non-Members

If you have a student taking the ABC3 public boating class, you need to use the HQ-800 system to request a certificate number. Instructions for the HQ-800 system are available here:

The following link will allow you to request a certificate number for a member of the public who is taking an advanced grade class: Note that you need to have your squadron's account password to use this link. (28 Oct 13)

Tip - Higher Final Examination Scores

The four end-of-chapter reviews in the ABC3 class have been presented in many ways to the students. The method that has consistently resulted in higher final examination scores is having the students read and answer the question in turn, a method involving the whole class. Try it. (25 Jun 13)

Tip - ABC3 Course Attendance Success Note

At a Fredericksburg Boat Show, we posted a large sign advertising a “FREE BOATING SAFETY COURSE.” That got people to our table, and we explained that we taught an 8-hour course, which is more than the minimum 6 hours that Virginia requires.  We explained that the free course got them the “Boat Basic Virginia” book, and that our book, which has so much more information, would be available at a nominal cost, or we would “rent” them a book for the duration of the course (we took a deposit for the full cost of the book, returning a portion to anyone who didn't want to keep it at the end of the course). We also told them that in addition to the 8-hour course, we'd offer them two additional 2-hour sessions that included an introduction to navigation.  Also free, but they really would need the optional book to get the full value from these sessions. We signed up a lot of people as interested and followed up with them via email.  In the end all but one attendee ended up buying our book and keeping it.

We signed up two new members from this course, which is better than we've done in some time.

Submitted by P/C Rick Marinelli, JN, Mid-Potomac Power Squadron (04 May 13)

TIP - Printing ABC3 Course Completion Wallet Cards from HQ-800 Software

ABC3 course completion wallet cards are pre-printed with 10 cards to a sheet. This presents challenges for the manager to prevent waste and get the printing done correctly the first time. The “HOW TO USE” directions in the HQ-800 for this effort include:

page scaling tip

It is always useful to run a test printing on a blank page when adjusting to various printers. Print, then compare the test page to the pre-printed card to check alignment. (10 Apr 14)

Tip - Printing ABC3 Course Completion Wallet Cards

When printing fewer than all 10 of the cards on the wallet card sheet, start at the bottom of the sheet which allows the printing to remain aligned. If you start from the top there is not enough paper to keep the sheet aligned. I've used this system several times and have great results. (04 Nov 12)

Tip - ABC3 Bonus Courseware CD

The ABC3 bonus courseware CD aids the student in post-course review and pre-course study. It assists the on-line student when preparing for Federal regulatory and safety questions in the final examination. It is not intended to aid classroom instruction and does not include any required state laws and regulations material. It is up to instructors to add these topics and questions. State questions are available from the protected State-Specific and ABC3 Chapter 5 Exam Questions web page. (28 Oct 12)

Tip - Your State Boating Law Administrator and Memorandum of Understanding

The recognized document for a USPS—State education agreement is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). In accordance with these MOU, electronic dissemination of course schedules when listed in HQ-800 occurs to the respective state, followed by course completions including names and student characteristics when agreed to, and provides collective student numbers at year end. It behooves all SEOs and DEOs to visit the EdDept home page, pull up the respective state information from the State Boating Information web page, and then review it with your state Boating Law Administrator (BLA). The DEO would be lead in states with many squadrons. Keep the BLA or his/her designated representative in your sphere of those important to state relationships. This is a critical step to validate that the person and email address listed as the BLA representative to receive USPS data transmissions is correct. The EdDept home page also includes a pull-down menu item under "State Boating Info" to the web page for existing MOUs. Many MOUs are dated a decade ago, but usually still valid. Review them and advise BPECom of needed corrections. The connection from USPS and individual districts and squadrons to their respective state is vital to smooth operations and a positive relationship. (28 Oct 12)

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This page last updated Saturday, January 11, 2020 21:48