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What did you do right? April 2006

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I still don't know if I passed, but I thought it would be good to share some ideas about test prep and test taking here.

My studying quality improved immensely once I set up shop in the guest bedroom. trying to study in the dining room so I could keep in touch with the family did not work. It was also a lucky break that the computer that I was gaming on broke too :true:

i put alot more time studying in that when i last took the exam more than 10years ago. 20 hrs a week for most of 4 months. i think the CERM practice problems were not the best, the six minute solutions were better. i wish NCEES published about 10 times more material than they offer!

During the exam, I noticed on the score sheet that there were 4 collumns of 10 answers each. this made it simple to monitor progress, i had 1 hour for each collumn. when i went chasing a lookup for 30 minutes on one of the first few probs in the PM, i saw what i needed to do to get back on schedule.

any other suggestions?

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I'll try to add some more detailed ones when I have more time.

Quick ones:

-Read and worked in-chapter problems on MANY chapters in MERM.

-Worked many end of chapter problems during studying (mostly had to look at the solutions manual to get them).

-Worked many problems in NCEES practice book many times each.

-Took notes while reading MERM and made my own index sorted both alphabetically and in order of MERM.

-Color coded items in my index to indicate which color (if any) tab it was under in my MERM.

-Tabbed the heck out of my MERM.

-Brought spare glasses to the test. Would have been finised halfway through AM session without them.

-Studied in various settings- library, dining room, home office, work office (helped to be able to focus in any environment)

I'll add more as I think of them.

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I read about 3/4 of the CERM and did the homework problems from the 240 practice, blah blah blah. I did this pretty solid for about two and a half months. I then worked other problems like six minute solutions and example tests. I also tabbed my book. However, one of the best things i think i did was to copy and bind a copy of the index of my CERM so that way if I was fishing for an answer, I could have the several different pages that the subject was on in front of me the whole time and didnt have to flip back and forth a bunch. Just my 2 cents.

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Here's what worked for me on the April 2006 CE Water Resources Exam:

-Studied 2 hrs per day, Sun-Thurs, taking Friday and Saturday off from Feb 1 to April 19 (2 days before exam), cramming hard during the last week.

-I designated one place in our home to study and used ear plugs while studying (really helped out with concentration).

-I went through the CERM chapter by chapter (skipping a lot of chapters that I didn't feel would be on the exam) and did the example probems as I came to them. At the end of the chapter I would pick and choose practice problems corresponding to the chapter. Familiarizing yourself with the CERM is key.

-I knew I was going to take WR in the afternoon so I hit it a lot harder than the rest of the subjects.

Some other advice I can give is not to get too bogged down in tracking down references. This can be expensive and time consuming. I may have used two other references other than the CERM during the exam. Also, I thought the problems in the WR six minute solutions were a LOT harder than the problems on the exam.

Hope this helps.

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A lot of people have been taling bad about "the other board" but I have to say that I used it for 95% of the exam.

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:D I established a schedule starting in AUGUST 05. I reviewed each chapter in the CERM, did the practice problems, and when I finished the sections I did the 6 minute solution problems. While studying I would diagram the equations with the variable definitions so I didn't have to read the text again above or below. I tabbed my CERM like crazy. When I started my depth section I used the DAS Principles books (Geotechnical Engineering & Foundation Design) along with the DM-7.01 & .02. By the time I was done, I bound my worked problems into a book thicker than my CERM and tabbed that as well and brought it in for the test. I did most of this during my down time while deployed where I welcomed something to take my mind off my daily routine. If you take the time and put in the effort you can pass. I'm proof! :true:

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Here is what I did. I found out in Desember I failed the October test. I orderded every book from "the other board" (by the way don't waste your money on the calculator book). When the material showed up, I went thru and highlighted all of the sectoins that were in the NCEES summary sheet. I made a schedule. I stuck to the schedule for about one week. I purchased GUN for PS2, and stoppe studying. I attempted to try to study a couple of nights a week until March. I got a brochure from Testmasters in the mail. I ended up signing up for the Atlanta class. Went to all 10 days of the class, did all of the sample problems in class. Returned home with 4 days left before the exam. I worked 3 sample tests using the information from Testmasters and my references. I felt really good then. I took the exam, the am was a breeze, all but I think 2 problems could be solved with Testmasters of CERM. The afternoon was my speciallity so I did not even study for it. I honistly think I got atleast 30 correct in the pm. I left the exam feeling great. I never thought I might not pass. I have never felt that comfident about an exam my entire life.

So I would have to say the Testmasters calss was worh every penny.

Giving them almost $2K is what I did right! :read:

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Great advice and similar study habits to most.

What I would add is understand different terminology that may be used.

Know your references!!!! If you do not know what is in one and when to go to it you probably don't need it.

Working tons of problems helps you learn what reference to use on any given problem.

Just being prepared and determined.

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Let me tell you what not to do.

1. I know a lot of people use tabs. Me, I was so familar with the CERM i didn't need tabs. Some people say, "Oh, I've got 10,000 tabs, I'll be OK, not. They end up have too many damn tabs. If your using tabs, use them the right way. Be familar with CERM.

2. Don't try to compile a bunch of similar problems and try use them with out knowing the guts and the theory. Also, some people spend vaulable study time writing notes that are already in the CERM instead of doing problems. I was either going to use the CERM or notes, not both.

3. Be careful with study courses. They give some a false sense of security.

4. Don't take SEI or SEII. Take CE/ Structural. For those who pass SEI or SEII, you people must be geniuses.

5. Don't show up with 3 truckloads of books, those people usually fail.

It worked for me, it may not work for you :tone:

Remember, if your taking civil, you only need to be better than about 35 out of 100 test takers. Some show up just to see what its like, some don't show up at all, some because their work made them, some are bad test takers. Rarely will you see someone fail that really puts the effort in.

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A lot of people have been taling bad about PPI but I have to say that I used it for 95% of the exam.

I used mine alot as well. I think the bad talking of PPI is due to the frustration felt on the message board. Hopefully, we are helping that out some. :thumbsup:

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did any other civils do the "structural bypass"?

for a transpo depth, the structural counted 10% of the test, but was at least 1/3 of the CERM. I skipped those nasty chapters to look for easier points.

funny, but of the 8 structural questions in the AM, I felt pretty good about 5 of them. which aint bad for the throw away portion

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most important for me......

1. to not waste a lot of time studing things i KNOW i can't do (ie, anything structural). i focused on brushing up what i felt most confident in, really reviewing things i needed more depth in, and reading CERM when i needed more to spur my memory.

2. bought the mgi study materials and tried to work as many problems as i could. i never did take their section mini-tests, but their problems cover SO much more than what you need to know, that if you can even do a quarter of the problems, you're doing just fine.

3. worked a lot of the ncees sample problems. keep going back to what you get wrong and rewwork the problems until you get it.

4. i second the printing out of the CERM index, double sided. it was a life saver and saved me a lot of time manipulating that big ass book. also, printed a full size copy of my calculator manual, just in case.

5. i tabbed my CERM, and it worked fabulously for me. but COLOR CODE the tabs (ie, green for enviro, blue for water, etc), it'll help the tabs not just get lost.

6. find about one box worth of books and limit yourself to that. get to know those books as well as you possibly can. nothing beats knowing you've seen the table that holds the information you need. that'll serve better than all the tabs and books in the world.

i studied here and there during the week (maybe one hour, two nights a week) and four hours on saturday and sunday each. i started in mid january, but took a major portion of february off after the board told me i was taking the environmental exam and not the civil exam. resumed in mid march when i got word they agreed to let me take the civil exam. stopped studying 2 weeks before and just got my stuff together, tabbed my CERM, and let my brain rest.

i don't know if this will work for anyone but me, but that's my two cents. and don't make yourself nuts with this......IT'S JUST A TEST. stay as relaxed as you can.

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The best advice that I can give is to do all of the problems that you can... I really messed up my previous times because I just went through the motions of doing the problems and not understanding how to use the formulas. This time, I committed myself to not looking at the solution and working the problem backwards until I came up with an answer. I really tried to cut corners preparing on earlier attempts and paid for it... Best of luck to you all that have to endure this thing again. I know how you feel getting that letter in the mail. Try not to dwell on what has happened and just strengthen your weak spots and maintain your strong suits.

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I started studying in October and studied around 2 hours per night (including weeknights), 30-45 minutes of problems at my desk over lunch breaks, and would study a heavy Saturday, taking sunday off. I think I put nearly 400 hours of study time into it.

I used "the other board"'s study schedule that you can customize as a starter schedule. I moved stuff and did less machine design and hit the fans/HVAC chapters twice. I worked most of the in chapter and end of chapter problems... I didn't look at a practice exam until 2 weeks before the exam. I planned my schedule to give me the last 2 weeks to just do problems (BIG HELP!)..

When I got to the practice exams, I was like... you've got to be kidding me - how easy are these problems??? "the other board" doesn't follow the test format well, but if you study it, you'll be prepared.

I did tab the hell out of my MERM, but I used a system to do it, so I didn't have to memorize all the tabs. I used the bottom of the book to tab main chapters to flip easily to them. I used the right hand side to mark critical equations. I used the top to mark all the tables / charts for reference with equations.

For mechanicals, I would also recommend getting a steam and gas tables books. The ones' provided with MERM are not as detailed and you can waste a lot of time attempting to interpolate numbers, and quick guessing can get you close, but if you want to be "accurate" and make correct choices, have the numbers at your finger tips.

I also made a mistake of not having updated ASHRAE books. I would recommend getting the latest and greatest, some things could be referenced out of the newest ones. They are expensive, so borrow if you can.

I"m no expert and everyone has different study styles. I think if I was going to be taking it again, I would have considered doing a class.

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I think the two best things I did were 1. estblish a study routine that was tailored to my learning style, and 2. study dilligently on a reasonably structured schedule.

1. The thing you always hear about how to study on the PPI website and other place is to work as many problems as possible to build up speed and knowledge through repetition.

I don't like that strategy. All that does for me is get me to memorize equations and plug numbers into a calculator. I would rather know the theory behind the subject, in just a little more depth than a 5 minutes problem could ask.

I relied heavily on old textbooks. I would try a few practice problems in 101 Solved Problems, figure out the subject matter and degree of difficulty, then hit those topics in depth in the relevant textbook. I'd summarize the chapter with handwritten notes, and photocopy important tables/figures right out of the book and put them in a loose leaf binder.

I'd then try a few more problems to make sure I was on the right track.

I studied for 4.5 months, and it was really only the last month that I was just straight up doing problems to build up my speed and confidence.

2. I found out I was eligible for the test in mid-November. I ordered some study materials that came around Thanksgiving, and began reviewing the first week of December.

PPI's ENVRM suggested about 300 hours of studying. So, I divided up the 300 hours by each topic, in proportion to the percentage a certain topic appears on the test. For example, if wastewater is 10%, I spent about 30 hours on it.

I then said I wanted to spend 75% of my review on reading and studying my references, and the other 25% pounding out problems, and broke it down further.

I kept a study log of hours spent on a given day, and the topic I worked on, to track progress.

I was happy with my effort. The longest I went without studying during that span was 4 consecutive days. And that was when I had company one weekend, then flew out of town on vacation right after. I studied every morning when I was away.

I also got in the habit of bringing a review book with me wherever I went. Waiting room at the doctor's office, lunch hour at work, etc.

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I started studying in February, I has a really compressed schedule. The best things I did were:

1. When I worked on problems, for each type, I actually worked one out all the way including the calculations, and using the appendices. It just doesnt work flipping to the answer key and reading the answer. Wasted 2 weeks doing that.

2. Kept a list of formulas that came up a lot. Including reminders of what each symbol meant, and what page it came from, so I didnt have to look them up again.

3. Tab the tables in the chapters that are necessary, but aren't in the appendix. There were a lot of important constants that were only listed in the chapter.

4. Put those formulas, and any other good info into a spiral or looseleaf notebook, and use that as your quick reference during the test.

Dont over do it. 2-3 hrs a weeknignt for 2 months, 2 saturday mornings and the day before the test. - Way more than I've studied for any test ever.

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^ I used my weekends as power study time. I'd try to wake up early on Sat and Sun and get in an early morning session from around 7-9 AM. Then I'd already have a nice chunk of work done, and it'd only be mid-morning.

I'd then try to get in a late afternoon session from around 4-6 PM. Then I'd stil have plenty of time for dinner and whatever plans I might have had in the evening.

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One thing that I did (most ppl probably do the same) is focused on one subject at a time. I worked all my problems in one spiral notebook and for each problem wrote out the problem statement and then worked the entire problem through. I tabbed the notebook into each discipline and I used the first page in each discipline to write down all the equations, conversions, etc. that way I could just flip to the first page (tabbed) and get what I needed. Found that I practically used my "first pages" the most for each subject area during exam day. Having all the conversions written out and broken down by each subject was huge.

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I broke it down topic by topic as well. Studying ambient air quality one day and lime-soda softening the next wouldn't have been effective for me.

I did something similar with writing down equations, data, etc. I'd rather flip through 2 or 3 pages on say, filtration, than slog through a whole chapter in the textbook and lose time.

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i took the water resources pm exam for civil and passed it on my first try. however, after spending $2000 on a graduate course in water resources, review course and books and over 300 hours of studying staying up until 12 every night, it was complete overkill. everyone here has great advice and it's what i followed to get through the exam, but here is some advice for those that don't have a lot of money or time.

1. go through the cerm thoroughly for your concentration. i read through every page for water, environmental, and geothech. tab the important charts that you know you will use. if you want to find something, it is better to make a copy of you index and have that in front of you. some of the advanced chapters are less likely to show up, but it's better to cover your bases. also, read the first couple of chapters on the other two areas that will appear in the morning.

2. spend a couple hours a day studying. and get enough sleep because being drowsy the next day makes that day's studying much harder. give yourself at least 3 months to study. it's a lot of material and cramming everything into 2 months is very ulcer-inducing. also, you can give yourself the weekends off if you start earlier. that way your kids will still recognize you after the exam.

3. find a quiet place with no distractions. you'll miss your family and doing anything fun, but you'll only be gone for a couple hours. and those 2 hours go by real quick if you're doing some quality studying.

4. bring any books that you are familiar with to the exam. know your references well enough that you can look things up quickly. but also bring as many books with you that you can that may have something useful. at the exam, i brought three milk crates. one had all my notes, cerm, indeces and water books that i knew i was going to use and that i knew very well. the second one had additional books that i was somewhat familiar with that contained information about the other subjects. the third one had books that i barely looked at at all, but may have a remote chance of appearing on the test. of course i mainly used crate number one, and sometimes number two. but for a couple questions that i had absolutely no idea of, i was actually able to find the answers in a book i had only cracked open once.

5. speaking of tons of books, abuse all your resources. books are freaking expensive and you will probably never use them after the exam. if your company will reimburse you for anything, take it. also use your public library system for reference books. also, if you have a friend who's still in college, you can get a lot of PE sample problem and exams from a university interlibrary loan. and the internet has a lot of information you can print out. and of course, you can always see if any of your co-workers have books that you can borrow.

6. DON'T PANIC (in big friendly letters). being all grumpy will not only make your family hate you, but it will also give you a nervous breakdown. take breaks as you need them and don't feel guilty about it.

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lots of good info here

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One thing that I did (most ppl probably do the same) is focused on one subject at a time. I worked all my problems in one spiral notebook and for each problem wrote out the problem statement and then worked the entire problem through. I tabbed the notebook into each discipline and I used the first page in each discipline to write down all the equations, conversions, etc. that way I could just flip to the first page (tabbed) and get what I needed. Found that I practically used my "first pages" the most for each subject area during exam day. Having all the conversions written out and broken down by each subject was huge.

you know I started out doing that, and didnt keep it up. I think I will do that this time, just to be more organized, but I think it could come in handy.

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A few recomendations from someone who doesn't know if he passed yet. These are generally for those in Civil-Trans.

1. Don't waste hours studying complicated structural concepts. six minutes isn't long enough to give you anything other than basic questions.

2. Learn to use the conveyance factor tables in the CERM. It will dramaically speed up your ability to solve open channel flow problems. Learn to use all of the applicable tables as it will give you more time on the test.

3. Better get to know your Highway Capicity Manual!! You need to know where stuff is located in there and you won't have time during the exam.

4. Manage you exam time. Don't get stuck on a difficult problem. Go back to it later.

Good Luck

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4. Manage you exam time. Don't get stuck on a difficult problem. Go back to it later.

Just make sure you are really careful with your answer sheet if you skip the occasional problem.

I had to consciously say to myself, "Ok, I skipped problem 7, I am answering problem 8, and I need to put my answer next to problem 8 on the answer sheet."

I'm notoriously bad on scantron exams as far as screwing up the answer sheet after skipping problems. On a 30 question test, I'd be all done and realized I was only on #29 on the answer sheet. You then have to go back and figure out where you screwed up, and hope to hell to erased everything well enough. :blink:

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I almost think that is how I failed this time. I don't know for sure.

But when working the problems, I 'marked' 31 in the AM that I knew. Then 'marked' 17 in the PM that I felt I knew and had right. That adds up to 48, so I figured if I could guess a few right out of the remaining 32, then I should pass.

I got my results back and had a raw 35????????? Go figure. I'm stumped, and don't know what happened.

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